NZ govt to reach Pacific and Maori youth through rugby league.
NZ government looks to reach Pacific and Maori youth through rugby league.
The New Zealand government is attempting to promote education and well-being among Pacific and Maori youth through a new partnership with the sport of Rugby League.
The Education minister Hekia Parata says she hopes "It's more than Just a Game" will improve the education, health and well-being of thousands of people.
Koro Vaka'uta has the details of the unique initiative.
"It's More Than Just A Game" brings together NZ Rugby League, the Ministry of Education, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the Health Promotion Agency and New Zealand Police. Ms Parata says the NZRL was initially contacted as the ministry looked for ways to engage specific target groups and it is an example of perfect timing.
HEKIA PARATA: Our early-learning taskforce, I had instructed them to find ways that we could engage communities in early childhood education that aren't traditionally engaged, in particular our Pasifika and Maori community. At the same time the New Zealand Rugby League was looking to partner with organisations that would support their family-based approach.
Since initial contact the NZRL has been running Early Childhood play groups in Auckland. Ms Parata says the new programme will expand the NZRL's educational reach.
HEKIA PARATA: We together look at how we can get more play groups associated with rugby league clubs around New Zealand. We already have 10 operating with the NZRL in Auckland. We expect to double that over the next year. We're also working with them to promote the importance of NCA 2 with their development players with the families.
The Minister says communities are communicated to more effectively from within and with 80% of the rugby league community being made up of Maori and Pacific Islanders, the sport provided an ideal partner.
HEKIA PARATA: With the 40,000 or so players, they all bring their families with them. The clubrooms become a community hub and it's an opportunity to progress the sort of interests that we have in education as well as in the other agencies and it's in the league's interest that they have strong, healthy, engaged, members.
The programme is being funded to the tune of just under $200,000 US dollars. NZRL Chief Executive Phil Holden says the funding will be used to assist a number of initiatives.
PHIL HOLDEN: To support our initiatives to grow the playgroups to be nationally. To support our initiative and messaging around youth at risk through our performance camps and also making people aware of lifestyle and behaviour choices through our club network, through a programme we call "League for Life" so that's how it will be delivered.
The programme aims to assist at least 300 junior players to achieve NCEA Level 2 and promote positive health and social messages to over 100,000 Maori and Pacific Islanders.
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