Helping whānau with the cost of education

Over the last decade Whai Rawa has helped over 250 whānau to pursue their tertiary education dreams.

David Tikao, Programme Leader – Whai Rawa, says nearly $500,000 has been withdrawn by members to assist them with tertiary study.

“Whai Rawa is different to Kiwi Saver because we allow our members to withdraw for tertiary education because we recognise the important role education plays on the long-term financial position of whānau,” says David.

Maegan Cameron, Whai Rawa member, says using her funds improved her access to tertiary education.

“Signing up and getting a loan when you are young is pretty scary, but if you know you have some money aside to help you pay it off, it makes study more accessible,” says Meagan.

“I wouldn’t have paid off my loan by now if it wasn’t for Whai Rawa. I would still have a big chunk of it sitting there,” she says.

Maegan studied social work at Ara Institute of Canterbury and is now a social worker for Poutini Waiora.

Jamie-Lee Tuuta, another Whai Rawa member says Whai Rawa helped her to pay off her student loan.

“Without Whai Rawa I would still have a significant student loan, but by using Whai Rawa I have been able to reduce my debt, which is a great feeling,” Says Jamie-Lee.

Jamie-Lee studied Law, Psychology and Māori and Indigenous Studies and is now an environmental policy advisor and in-house lawyer.

Kristen Kohere-Soutar, Chair, Whai Rawa Fund Limited says the focus for tertiary education is to help whānau create pathways to greater wealth.

“Whai Rawa focuses on three phases of life: tertiary education, buying your first home and retirement. We have focused on these areas because evidence shows us that whānau who have greater access to these three elements have the ability to live a better quality life,” says Kristen.

“The Whai Rawa funds under management have risen to $53-million,” she says.

“We have 22,000 members and to date we have helped over 300 whānau into their first homes, assisted more than 250 whānau with access to tertiary education and helped around 1,400 whānau towards a more comfortable retirement. That is a great success,” says David Tikao.

The programme is run by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and currently there is an annual matched savings up to a maximum of $200 per member. In addition, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has contributed annual distributions to most members, most years, regardless of whether they have saved into Whai Rawa or not.

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