AFLPP Network: Building Pasifika Financial Capability – Actions and Insights

11057395_896794533702344_2568264420427970974_oAt the latest Auckland Financial Literacy Practitioners & Providers (AFLPP) network meeting we had three amazing speakers share some powerful stories about the power of budgets.

Keeping with the meeting’s theme: Building Pasifika Financial Capability – Actions and Insights, the speakers shared how families transformed once they started managing their income differently.

First up was the Community Development Manager for the Cook Island Development Agency, Rourina Brown, who spoke of a research project – From Turanga to Ora’anga Mou – that involved 20 Cook Island families and highlighted why it is important for services to understand the collective as well as the individual’s need.

Next up was Geoff Fariu, who shared how the ‘Akara Mamao’ church in Tamaki is running a six week home-ownership focused programme that is followed up with a detailed financial plan and coaching, including ongoing peer support.

This programme shows how housing can be a real catalyst for change, linking home-ownership focused financial literacy with ongoing support enables families to clear debt, improve credit ratings and get a sense of hope and purpose for their financial future.

Lastly, Pelenatete Lam Sam presented on how Vaka Tautua is incorporating financial literacy into support for Pacific families who care for disabled family members.

As many of the families in these programmes had no idea what a budget was, let alone how to create one, the speakers said it’s important to remember that budgets need to recognise what people care about – family, church and cultural obligations, which should not be seen as additional, but essential to their way of life.

Another important theme that came up multiple times during the meeting was the value of education. Education is one way families can save for the future – as if families invest time into the education of their children, the whole family will have a better life together.



Alison Sutton - Winner 2015

Oral language skills are an important part of learning, and yet research has shown that roughly a third of young people lack the necessary language skills needed to make a great start on reading.

COMET Auckland and Learning Auckland are sponsoring Talking Matters, a collaboration of representatives from more than 30 organisations in teacher education, health, early learning, family services, child development researchers, parenting programmes, family literacy and government.

Talking Matters is raising awareness of the importance of early oral language and will explore ways to encourage and upskill families and educators to provide the richest oral language environment possible.

Two forums have explored the importance of early oral language and school readiness and considered strategies that are effective in growing the communication confidence of children in their first few years. Already some of the participating organisations have made small changes to their practice as a result of the information shared.

Talking Matters is drawing on insights from Alison Sutton’s Winston Churchill Fellowship early in 2015 when she looked at city-wide literacy initiatives. Enhancing oral language in families and in early learning and family services emerged as a key strand of action in the cities Alison visited in England and the USA. Alison has been active in the media, advocating for more attention and action on children’s oracy. We are encouraging adults to talk, sing, read and tell stories to their kids as much as they can – simple, free and easy strategies that make a big difference.

NEXT STEPS: Talking Matters has been in a scoping phase this year. More network meetings are planned for 2015, a work programme is being developed and we are applying for funding to support this collaboration.

If you’d like more information on Talking Matters, please contact Alison Sutton, COMET Auckland’s Manager, Literacy, at



This year we launched the Youth Employability Passport (YEP) to help young people build, practise and integrate the competency skills employers have identified as being critical for them to succeed in securing and retaining employment.

The objective of the YEP is to establish successful education and industry partnerships that connect young people with vocational opportunities within the region to ensure students are aware of their career options in the trades and technology sectors, and have the opportunity to build their employability skills.


Around 100 young people across three Auckland schools and one training organisation are participating in a pilot programme designed and led by our Skills Manager, Shirley Johnson. The young people are receiving training and on-the-job experience, recording their developing skills in the passport along their journey.

We have generated positive feedback on the passport, with a number of other schools showing interest in the programme.

The Youth Employability Passport not only equips young people with the necessary skills employers are seeking, but it places them in industries they are passionate about.

Papatoetoe student Sirila Alao has aspirations to be a chef in the Navy, and has been placed at SKYCITY Hotel’s 24/7 staff restaurant and room service kitchen to get a taste of what it’s like to get behind the chopping board.

Before showing up to work in the kitchen, Sirila was taught the skills his employer would be looking for, such as attitude and punctuality, so he was able to make a good impression from the get-go.

Now, with the help of the passport programme, Sirila knows his dream to work in a kitchen is an achievable outcome and looks forward to stamping SKYCITY on his CV.

SKYCITY Apprentice Trainer and Coordinator, Martin Harrap, said the passport provides just as many opportunities for young people as it does for employers. He is currently supporting two other young people from the programme, and says the possibility of permanent roles for the young people is definitely on the table.

Thank you to our partners Auckland Council, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Careers New Zealand, CDANZ, Employers and Manufacturers Association, Employers Association Trust, Pathways to Employment Trust, Tindall Foundation, Work and Income, Workchoice Trust.

A special thank you also to the Lottery Grants Board, Work and Income, Auckland Council and Pathways to Employment Trust, who have made it possible for us to trial the passport, including bringing on a programme and logistics coordinator to organise work placements for the young people taking part in the programme, handle logistics and liaise with young people, schools and employers.

NEXT STEPS: At this stage, the trial involves monthly reviews to improve the workability of the passport. We hope to conduct an expanded trial in 2016 to further refine the programme. Already a number of schools and youth organisations have indicated their interest in being involved. Eventually, we aim for the passport to be widely used by Auckland schools, tertiary institutions and youth training organisations, and we are working with relevant government departments towards that goal.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Youth Employability Passport programme, or about our other work in the youth employability sector, click here.


CK9qg2AUAAAyuhBTe Reo Māori is a taonga – a national treasure – and yet it’s declining on a national level. The latest 2013 Census reveals only 4% of the national population can speak Te Reo well enough to hold a conversation. This shows the urgent need for Te Reo to be promoted and supported.

At present, 70% of Māori school students in Auckland are getting very little or no Te Reo, meaning the majority of Māori students are missing out on the social, economic and cultural benefits to be gained by learning Te Reo Māori.

Working alongside community, council and iwi groups, COMET Auckland plays an active role in discussing and advocating for the best strategies to promote Te Reo Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau, with an increased emphasis on quality, early childhood learning to support Māori learners and whānau.

Te Reo revitalisation has become an important topic of conversation at the Tāmaki Makaurau Education Forum, which COMET’s Māori Education Manager Hauāuru Rawiri leads and facilitates. The TMEF platform is used to discuss effective strategies to identify what is working in our communities and what can be developed further.

A TMEF hui held in November included over 20 iwi representatives, the Education Review Office, Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Education, Serco, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council, and it was agreed that Te Reo revitalisation is a community issue and is addressed more effectively with a single focus from across the sector.

The TMEF hui in May discussed government and community engagement strategies, language resilience and how policy can support Māori education.

The hui in May also identified four focus areas which were:

• Empowering communities – supporting community initiatives around Māori education.

• Speaking Te Reo – encouraging Māori to be comfortable in participating and speaking Te Reo in immersion environments.

• Best Learning – identify broad strategies that foster effective iwi cohesion.

• Te Ataarangi – maintaining Te Reo proficiency outside of immersion environments.

One further action towards supporting Te Reo Māori revitalisation this year has been support for a collaborative project led by Auckland Transport, with Kiwa Digital and Pukekohe North School, to develop a fantastic new resource that became available in Māori Language Week 2015.

He Rā Ngahau Mā Te Whānau I Runga Tereina, or Whānau Fun on the Train is a digital book available in both Te Reo Māori and English, and is a valuable resource for local Māori cultural history and Te Reo language.

The book is about a whānau from Pukekohe who go by train on a day trip to Eden Park to watch the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines. Along the way the whānau teaches us Māori history of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) by sharing stories about sites of significance such as maunga (mountains), events and traditional names for train stops. The app can be downloaded free and is a wonderful resource for schools and kura, and also for families wishing to strengthen and celebrate Te Reo Māori with their children.

To read the full report, click here.

Radio NZ: Susan Warren on the rise of early childcare centres in Auckland


COMET Auckland’s Chief Executive, Susan Warren, spoke with Radio New Zealand about the large number of new early childcare centres that have been established throughout Auckland this year, the highest number since 2009.

Of the 93 new ECE centres, 50 are being run from people’s homes – which is a controversial and often criticised method of delivery.

Susan told Radio NZ this increase could mean good news, but was largely dependent on where the new services were being opened.

“Many of the services that have been just opened this year are in the higher socio-economic areas and they tend to be the areas that are better served already for early learning,” she said

“So it’s a little bit of a concern that not very many of those new services are in low socio-economic areas.

“There seems to be an indication that quality is a bit more variable in home-based services than it is in others and if the pattern is followed, we would have to question what quality those services would be.”

Click here to read the full article.


SnapshotsThis year we created a series of 23 infographics presenting important statistics on education, skills and employment, with a particular focus on families.

The suite of education infographics cover Auckland’s 21 local boards, an Auckland-wide snapshot and, for the first time, information on The Southern Initiative (TSI), which combines data from Mangere-Otahuhu, Manurewa, Otara-Papatoetoe and Papakura.

These snapshots act as a valuable resource for Local Boards, Government, education professionals, community organisations, parents, caregivers and learners, enabling people to understand the key characteristics of their regions and make informed decisions. The infographics have received positive feedback from the Ministry of Education since being released in mid-2015.

The Southern Initiative infographic highlights some of the education and skills gaps affecting Auckland’s southern suburbs:

• The number of school leavers achieving University Entrance is significantly lower in South Auckland at 36.2%, compared to Auckland as a whole, at 57.1%.

• The unemployment rate in South Auckland is at 10.4%, compared to Auckland as a whole, at 5.4%

• 29% of South Aucklanders have no qualifications whatsoever, compared to 16.8% Auckland-wide

• A major concern is the lack of internet for households with children. In South Auckland, 33% of households with school-aged children don’t have Internet access, compared to 15% of families Auckland-wide.

Quotes from stakeholders:

“I met with some of the White House Initiative leaders in education today and gave them copies of your snapshots (Maori, Pasifika) and explained how important these have been. They went down very well with the people I was meeting with.” Professor Airini, Thompson Rivers University, Canada.

“We all love the snapshots” Paul Prestidge, Auckland Council

“I was able to use the Devonport Takapuna snapshot in conversation with the youth board and the new youth board applicants at our meet & greet on Monday evening, very timely.” Steve McLuckie, Auckland Council

“The factsheets were helpful in gaining an understanding of the demographic issues throughout Auckland, and particularly within my ward area.” George Wood, CNZM, Auckland Councillor

If you want to check out the 23 snapshots of the local boards, click here.


COMET Auckland’s Manager, Literacy, Alison Sutton recently won an award for her long-standing commitment to adult literacy and numeracy education.

Fitting with the theme of International Literacy Day, on 8 September, 2015 Alison was awarded the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Leadership Award by the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adult’s Director Professor, Diana Coben.

Alison has been involved in adult literacy for 27 years’, working in research, evaluation and project development roles. At COMET, Alison now leads numerous initiatives related to family learning and literacy across the city, the latest of which is Talking Matters, an Auckland collaboration designed to grow early speakers, listeners and readers.

Earlier this year, Alison was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship, and has since travelled to the UK and the US to research how city-wide literacy campaigns are being developed.

If you want to read more about Alison’s award click here.