‘Life changing’ financial literacy programme helps hundreds

The following is an excerpt from an article published online by Catherine Hutton, Senior Reporter for Radio New Zealand 

Photo source: Vaka Tautua

Photo source: Vaka Tautua

A programme which helps Pasifika people under severe financial pressure is so successful it met one of its annual targets in five months.

Vaka Tautua runs free financial literacy programmes for at risk Pacific families.

They are referred to the agency if they have a family member who is disabled or they are struggling with family violence and housing problems.

In the three years it’s been running, it has empowered more than 400 Auckland families.

On a very hot evening last month, 40 people gathered for a ceremony at a Tongan church in Otara.

They celebrated and shared stories after completing an eight week course which helped them get to grips with their finances.

“Life-changing” is how one participant described the programme.

Ana Talakai who works full-time, said the course gave her a savings goal.

Photo: Vaka Tautua

Photo: Vaka Tautua

“By the end of this course I was thinking to save something to go for a holiday. Because I’m working full-time from January – December and I didn’t have enough money to think of going for a holiday to the Islands or anywhere in New Zealand, but this time I can do it,” she said.

Vaka Tautua chief executive Mark Gosche said the programme worked because it gave families the skills to deal with their financial problems.

There are several elements, including a weekly workshop and an individual coaching session, as well as participants keeping a spending diary.

Mr Gosche said families were forced to address their needs and wants and debated what was important, often changing the family dynamic.

“Because when they have to write down in their spending diary how much they spend, quite often a huge amount is going on takeaways, unhealthy food. And by the end of the programme, that drops dramatically and they’re actually eating healthy food, because it’s cheaper and it’s better and the family makes that decision collectively,” Mr Gosche said.

“It’s hard if you’re a smoker and you’re sitting around the table with your children to say ‘I’m gong to continue to spend $6000-$7000 a year on cigarettes’, when the children’s are saying, ‘but our needs are in other areas like in education’,” he said.

The full story is available online here via Radio New Zealand