Financial mentoring aims to get whānau out of debt

By Jessica Tyson

This year The Salvation Army is focusing on strengthening the financial literacy of Māori families to help get them out of debt and reduce poverty.

Salvation Army spokesperson Pam Waugh says around 45 per cent of families they help are Māori and over the last 10 years poorer families have been getting “further and further behind” in debt.

“In the next year, we want to continue working with families from financial mentoring to make sure we strengthen their financial literacy skills and get rid of that debt that hangs around them and keeps them trapped.”

According to Waugh, the highest percent of Māori living in extreme poverty are in the far North, Whangarei and Rotorua.

She says government’s Families Package and energy payments are helping but will take a while to impact because some families have a lot of debt.

“We have financial mentoring plans. We have social workers. We have counselling and we have life skills groups, says Waugh.

“All of those programs work together to help a family develop new skills or help them with their financial management and financial literacy.”

Waugh says the Salvation Army will continue to work with providers within the iwi groups to create the best outcomes for whānau.

“We’ve also got to work hard on housing and working with government, local government and communities to stabilise the housing market, which is another big problem for our families who are struggling to stay in there,” says Waugh.