Just 20 kilometres separate Wellington from Lower Hutt and Porirua, but they might as well be worlds apart for some young residents.
School principals have revealed that some of their pupils have never set foot in the capital, despite living less than half an hour away, leading to concerns that poverty may be stifling their future ambitions.
Naenae College principal John Russell said that of 26 pupils in a recent year 9 class, 16 had never been to Wellington.
The situation was common, he said.
"A lot of kids do live in a very prescribed world, between home, school and the Naenae centre, and that's about it."
Families were struggling and, for many, trips into Wellington were not possible.
Many pupils came from single-parent homes.
"If you don't go on any family trips, then your whole view of life and learning gets narrowed. You don't know if something is worth it till you know what ‘it' is."
Porirua College principal Susanne Jungersen said it was common to find pupils who had never left Cannons Creek.
"I get amazed by the number of students who haven't been to Wellington city. That gives you pause for thought.
"We have students in our senior school who don't know how to catch a train. They don't know how a train goes, or where."
For many, leaving home turf could be intimidating.
"That's your place and beyond that it's a big, scary, different place. I suppose it's like two worlds, really."
When teens were taken into Wellington, they were shocked.
"They get very excited to see the big city. It's like giving a gift to somebody. It's like being a tourist - 20 minutes up the road and you're a tourist."
Naenae College pupil Bernie Kahukuranui, 15, said yesterday that he had never been into Wellington. The biggest barrier was a lack of money. "It's a struggle, you know, times are hard."
Tmaconer Tangiwai, 14, also said he had not yet been to Wellington. "I haven't got the money eh."
Mr Russell said the gap between low and high-decile schools was widening.
"On the other hand, a lot of these kids are living in a vibrant cross-cultural environment with a whole different set of experiences, and they have some lovely skills and attributes from that."
Hutt city councillor Angus Finlayson said that the effects of poverty were a concern throughout the area.
Proposed cuts to Hutt Valley school bus routes would make pupils even less mobile.
Billy Graham, who runs the Naenae Boxing Academy, said that when he recently took a group of teenagers to Taupo, some had not been north of Paraparaumu.
"There wouldn't be 10 kids in our gym that have been to Wellington Zoo.
"Milk runs are gone, paper runs are gone. They don't have any money. What it does is limit their horizons. We're trying to broaden them."
Wainuiomata High School principal Martin Isberg knew of many pupils who did not travel into Wellington, but said that was often down to personal choice.
"They do their socialising and their shopping at Westfield [Mall] in the Hutt, and many of them may never see the point of travelling into Wellington."
A DAY IN THE CITY
For a family of two adults and two children:
From Naenae: Family bus pass $21, family train pass $40
From Porirua: Family travel pass on buses and trains $42
A FAMILY TRIP TO THE ZOO
Entry: $60 (two adults, up to three children)
Day out on the bus/train from Naenae: $81/$100
Day out from Porirua: $102
A FAMILY TRIP TO THE MOVIES, READING COURTENAY
Entry: Adult ticket $16, child ticket $10.50
Day out on the bus/train from Naenae: $74/$93
Day out from Porirua: $95
A FAMILY TRIP TO TE PAPA
Entry: free, and most activities are free
Scientific adventure rides:
Adults: $10/$18 (one ride/both rides), children (under 16) $5/$9
Two adults and two children: $23.50/$42.50
Day out on the bus/train from Naenae (with rides): $63.50/$82.50
Day out from Porirua: $65.50/$84.50
- © Fairfax NZ News
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