Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

“It’s a kick in the guts”: South Auckland budgeting service faces closure

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

A drop in funding for Budgeting Financial Services from $22.3 million to $19.5 million has led the MSD to pull the plug on 44 of the 132 budgeting advice organisations across the country.

This includes the South Auckland-based Vaiola Pacific Island Budgeting Service, which employs 11 staff members across its three offices in Mangere and Manurewa.

Vai Harris, who co-founded the organisation in 1996, says she received news of their unsuccessful funding application last month.

“It’s a kick in the guts,” she says.

“It’s really devastating. [There was] no explanation whatsoever. All it [said] was ‘unfortunately, your application is unsuccessful.’ and that’s it.”

The result means the organisation could close its doors as early as next month unless it can revert the ministry’s decision or secure alternative funding.

Vai fears many Pacific families will have nowhere to turn to and may be at a greater risk of homelessness if the service closes down.

“Pacific Island people always come to us because they feel comfortable and [because we] also explain the language.

You know, we might tell them off, you know, but there’s always the love, the culture, the language there. We open up to them.

“Seems like [the government] cut everything [like it] doesn’t matter. They don’t care. I hope they cut their wages and give some to us because we’re doing the work helping the community.”

Client Ta’amilo Matofai and her family decided to buy their first home this year and turned to Vaiola for help with the process and to sort out their finances.

“Without them, we don’t know how to manage the money, how to budget [for] our family – to save money and stuff like that,” she says.

Vaiola helped them secure a home in just three weeks. They also received a first home grant of $10,000 shortly before the government scrapped it last month.

“I feel lucky, and I feel like a millionaire in New Zealand,” Ta’amilo says.

“The Vaiola Budgeting [Service] is a big help for us. That’s why we need to please continue their service. They are a big help for our Pasifika people.”

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