Roana Bennett, Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake Trust general manager, says she is pleased to see today's Budget's focus on education, particularly early childhood education.

"Where I have my reservations is in how those appropriations are going to be implemented and spent on the ground. The policy makers still do not fully understand the requirements at the community level in terms of effective government spend.

"Yes, they've got the broad key points right, but for me the jury is out as to how that gets translated on the ground.

"Early childhood is one of the big winners: there is nearly $400 million over the next four years to go to early childhood centres. My issue with that is it should be on quality, not just quantity.


"There is compelling evidence that a young child who experiences quality earlier childhood education succeeds at school. What makes up quality early childhood for Ngati Whakaue is for a centre to incorporate a child's identity, language and culture in the early childhood environment."

She said that out of the 50 early childhood centres in Rotorua some did this really well, most were trying to do it and some didn't do it at all.

She said it was about improving what we have already got, not making new centres.
"But, I think the money is going to go on new centres and new places."

She said she was pleased to see stronger support for trade training and apprenticeships: "A trade is a pathway to a fulfilling, sustainable career. Many of our Maori men now in their 50s and 60s went through trades apprenticeships as young adults and are now supporting three or four generations of whanau.

"Trade training and apprenticeships should not be confused with initiatives for vulnerable or at risk learners. That's a separate kaupapa altogether.

"To be successful at a trade or in an apprenticeship you need to have a good solid grounding in literacy and numeracy and well-established learning and work habits.

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"We need our best and brightest to aim towards apprenticeships. This is a point the policy makers seem to miss.

"I would have liked to have seen incentives for employers to take on apprentices. This would ensure buy-in by employers and lead to increased apprenticeship opportunities for rangatahi."