Maori Party to encourage uni attendance

Creating a tradition of university study within families is at the heart of the Maori Party's tertiary education policy, launched in Palmerston North.

Announced by Te Tai Hauauru candidate Chris McKenzie yesterday, the policy would include a four-year zero-fees First in Whanau scholarship, open to the first members of a family to undertake a bachelor's degree.

McKenzie told a packed Spiers Centre at Palmerston North Boys' High School that he was an example of creating a family legacy for university attendance.

"What I know in Maori families is if you have a legacy of not going to university in your family, generations won't go to university. If you build a legacy of going to university and you get the first one in the door, many more will follow," he said.

"I know that because I was the first in my family to go to university and now it's quite a normal thing.

"Universities and the government should make an investment - first in families and first in whanau should be free."

McKenzie said the most exciting part of the policy was a rebate, which would write off a portion of a student loan if the student worked in a job in New Zealand relevant to their qualification for five years after studying.

"It's an added incentive for our young people to get out of university and get a job, and if they do that for five years then we should support them."

A universal student allowance without means testing and a postgraduate student allowances were also supported in the party's policy.

Also at the debate yesterday were Labour candidate Adrian Rurawhe and Greens candidate Jack McDonald.

Rurawhe said Labour would review student allowances and increase adult community education by $13 million.

McDonald said the Greens planned to restore young people's faith in government, invest $1 billion in innovation and fund an extra 1000 places inscience, mathematics and engineering, as well as reinstate postgraduate student allowances and move to a universal student allowance.

Manawatu Standard