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Raetihi has a number of options for early childhood education.

“We’ve got two kohanga and private day care.”

The local primary school in Raetihi is well regarded but while, theoretically, the primary school has access to the services that ‘other schools have’ but in reality it was felt that it was difficult for the primary school to get the same level of support that schools in urban areas have. In particular, services delivered out of Whanganui were reluctant to travel to Raetihi.

  • There were no significant challenges reported in accessing primary or secondary schooling.
  • Funding though is a challenge for the primary school as well as working in a community with high levels of social economic disadvantage and the ensuing social and health issues.

In terms of extracurricular opportunities available for children, it was noted that there used to be a lot more available but these activities were always contingent on having a person passionate about a particular activity willing to offer it.

  • Lack of parental support and again, lack of transport were seen as barriers to young people getting involved in sports and other activities.

“We have a dance group that operates out of the school hall but I’m open to anyone using that facility. You know, like, if we had some sort of martial arts type people who were interested in offering those services, then the place is there to do it.”

“We are seeing some bright spots though. Our rugby was really struggling, we only had three or four teams and hardly any school kids playing. High school didn’t even have a first fifteen. Now all of a sudden there’s a number of school kids playing. But a number of parents struggle to get their kids from one game to another, transport. The club does help but they’re struggling as well because not many parents can afford to pay the fees.”

In terms of post high school education, most of the formal opportunities for further education exists in on job training in programmes such as farming cadetships.

  • There were few, if any, academic training opportunities available in Raetihi and many young people could not afford, or did not want, to move to other centres for education.

“When they leave college we do have a lot of kids going to uni, we have a lot of our kids going to polytechs, we have programmes that are like farming cadetships, more of the trades and that, land based training, so there are some of those things that are starting to come into our communities that can be accessed.”

“From a kid’s point of view though the challenge is in all those cases they have to move away from home to access those things like University and Polytech. Whereas if they lived in a town they could probably stay at home and still access those facilities. So our kids have to get up and go”.

“I’ve been to the polytechs closest to us and asked for more education closer to our rohe, and they said no because it’s a numbers game for them. So as soon as the NZ Institute of Skills and Technology Starts, I’ve contacted the CE to see if we can become a hub, because one of the problems I’ve seen is that many of our youth will not leave the security of their whanau to go away and study. In terms of them not wanting to leave the nest, they might also have siblings they have to take are off, they don’t have the money to live in the centres.”

“You got to educate them, upskill them, before they get out the other side. Our area is predominately forestry and farming, and you’ve got kids that are not going to university, is there a stepping stone to move them into jobs, is there anything to help them into those in the college? [Yes there is, there’s ag courses but the forestry is limited because of the risk factors, health and safety…]

Challenges for youth in Raetihi included exposure to drugs and alcohol, financial stress, and having a lack of good male role models.

“A lot of our kids come from single parent homes and they don’t have that male role model there to help financially and to help with the young boys, especially, they’re vulnerable so it’s pressure everywhere for those families.”

“And youth are very vulnerable because of generational use they’re very vulnerable of becoming users, because it’s the norm. But that’s a huge risk for youth at the moment, drug and alcohol. We get kids come through the justice system and so forth and all their issues are drug and alcohol related. We work with the kids but when they go back into their environment, it goes back to the same.”

“And in education they look for male teachers, but they’re few and far between. And to find male role models is hard because they are out doing things and working themselves.

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