Wairarapa’s rangatahi and the tourism sector are receiving a boost as the central government announces more than $1 million of funding for two of its successful Provincial Growth Fund [PGF] applications, both of which were supported by the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy [WEDS].
An announcement made by Hon Shane Jones today at REAP House in Masterton revealed $947,800 of funding over two years was being granted to The Nga Pumanawa Tupuna (the strengths & talents of the ancestors’) for its programme targeting at-risk rangatahi and youth to develop soft-skills and habits necessary for success in the world of work, as well as The Dark Sky Society being awarded $100,000.
The Nga Pumanawa Tupuna initiative is a joint venture between The Youth Education, Training, and Employment partnership (YETE), The Wairarapa Rural Education Action Programme (REAP), and the three Wairarapa councils, as well receiving strong support from both Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Rangitāne.
The initiative will target (predominantly but not exclusively) at-risk rangatahi Māori and build the skills, attitudes, habits and confidence they need to effectively transition into further education or training or directly into employment. Funding was provided through the He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) fund - a cross agency initiative part of the PGF, which seeks to support communities develop pathways for young people (aged 15-24) not currently in employment, education or training (NEETs), through to sustained employed underpinned by intensive pastoral care
The two years of funding will enable the programme to target the development of up to 60 rangatahi per year from across Wairarapa to effectively transition them into further education or training or directly into employment. Each rangatahi will be provided with ongoing intensive mentoring and other support. The programme will also help address the common issue of increased difficulty in finding work-ready applicants.
Project lead Tom Hullena said the funding now means change can happen sooner rather than later.
“We are thrilled with today’s announcement,” Tom said.
“This funding will make a meaningful difference to the lives of 60 rangatahi throughout the Wairarapa. Programmes similar to this have already had pleasing results in our region with youth and rangatahi being supported into further learning or work. I’m excited to see more progress along this path.”
Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson was pleased an important issue affecting the region’s youth was being addressed.
“The Wairarapa has a more youth out of education, training or work than the average across New Zealand. In our region one in every five people aged under 25 isn’t involved in education, training or employment. That compares to one in eight across New Zealand,” Lyn said.
“Our whole-hearted thanks go to the central government for sharing our vision for a positive outcome for our rangatahi. We have passionate people working hard to improve outcomes for these important members of our community. This funding will shift those efforts up a gear.”
Having Wairarapa skies recognized as an official ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ has been identified as a regional visitor and tourism priority in the recently released Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy. The project is being led by the Martinborough Dark Sky Society and the economic plan required, which can now progress thanks to the PGF grant, is a vital pre-requisite to achieving international certification. The Dark Sky Society has secured a total of $122,000 in funding - $100,000 being granted from the PGF, with additional support from private funders. Chairman of the Martinborough Dark Sky Society, Lee Mauger said the successful PGF application reflected all the hard work over the last year to demonstrate the outstanding quality of sky in the Wairarapa and strength of community support to the international regulator.
“We already have new pioneering local businesses forming to take advantage of this opportunity, so we now carry responsibility to complete the international certification and new light pollution mitigation policies on which these businesses depend.”
South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said the announcement was a great boost for the region’s tourism sector.
“An accredited reserve will attract those who value Astrotourism, which is the new sustainable international travel trend. Stargazing travellers are directed to locations where the night sky is darkest and clearest, steering clear of light-polluted tourist hubs or urban areas. Normally these are in remote spots but the Wairarapa is uniquely positioned, just over the hill from the nation’s capital, to create a world-class place to view the cosmos.”
Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy Governance Group Chair Dame Margaret Bazley said it was a great achievement for the region to have now secured close to $2M in successful PGF applications.
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