- Nga Ngaru
Stationary poverty on the rise as tamariki return to school across the country
Stationary poverty on the rise as tamariki return to school across the country With many children around the country returning to school today the Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has once again signaled a warning that there will be tamariki heading back into the classroom with little in the way of resources. Tukaki, once again highlighting the increasing gap at school between whanau who can afford things such as stationary and uniforms and those who cant has also indicated that while the beginning of the school year should be celebrated its also a cautionary tale in poverty: “The reality is that the cost of returning to school is high from the need to buy school uniforms to filling the stationary list and onto the basics such as kai and transport. Then there are things for senior students such as camps and activities that get underway almost immediately and when you combine that with the fact that many vulnerable whanau are still struggling then things get pretty tough and really quickly. And its not just our vulnerable whanau that are struggling – our research indicates that its also those who would otherwise be classed as middle class – the bills are up, interests rates on mortgage repayments are eating into the whanau budget and the added stress of Omicron is not helping” Tukaki said “The other thing we are mindful of is that we are exiting Christmas where credit card and personal debt balloons – when you combine that with rising interests rates and inflation, increased house prices and so on – the start to the year is pretty tough” Tukaki said “Over January we have done some calculations on the average stationary list for those returning to school in the intermediate and high school years and when you add in the bring your own devices such as laptops and touch pads the cost, when combined with new uniforms and so on balloons. Laptops, of BYODs at places such as JBHIFI range in price between $449 – $479 for primary and intermediate age children while for high school students the cost can go up to the high end of $1799 for those who might be doing graphics or IT related courses in the curriculum. Stationary packs for primary and intermediate students range now between $100 – $150 while high school students can expect to pay just above that between $100 - $200. School uniforms range in cost also between $150 – to $300 when you include shoes. In other words the cost of returning to school can be large even at the low end for an intermediate student at $699 and if you had having a high school student in the same household the cost can be as high on average at the low end of $949” Tukaki said “So if you have two students returning to school the total cost could be $1648 and that’s before the other costs are included. Its also a period where we expect to see special needs grants from MSD increase and increasing pressure on charities. This is part of the broader challenge of weekly costs – when you add in the weekly cost, according to STATS NZ of a weekly shop for a four person household including two dependents of $395.80 (Auckland) and average weekly rent of $600 in Auckland the a pretty challenging picture is painted” Tukaki said “But there are some things that many of us can help with. One example is that there are a lot of people out there with devices sitting at home that can be reset – if you have one that contact your local school to see if they have a drop in computer scheme; or your local kura or social services agency. We have collected 16 in our small network, they have been reset and given out to whanau. The other is assisting with the basics in stationary – again, many social services organisations have stationary packs, MSD have grants and then you have organisations such as Variety that also help out.” Tukaki said “So the key to this is reach out if you need help” Tukaki said Tukaki reiterated his call to look at cost of living price freezes on the basics and this could extend to a social support package for returning to school children.