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‘I’m a bit worried’ – tumuaki on David Seymour’s new school lunch model

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Older students next year will receive different school lunches from their younger counterparts.

Te Kura Ākonga O Manurewa tumuaki Whaea Irihapeti Matiaha (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tūhoe) is relieved after hearing Associate Education Minister David Seymour’s plans to continue school lunches but she is also worried about the new model for ākonga year seven and above.

“Heoi, i a au e noho ana i runga i te hui pae tukutuku a David Seymour, i rongo mai ki āna kōrero mo te toenga o tēnei tau, ana, kua ora mātou o tēnei kura i tēnei rautaki, heoi hei tērā tau, te tau 2025, e rua ngā rautaki rerekē, arā ko tētahi ka noho tonu ngā kai ki ngā tau 1-6 i roto i tēnei kura. Heoi mō ngā ākonga tau 7-13, he rautaki rerekē anō tērā kia riro ai ngā kai, me taku whakaaro, ka pēhea tērā e noho tau ki roto i tēnei kura, i runga anō i ngā uara o te kura nei, i runga anō i nga mātāpono o te kura nei, i runga anō i ngā tikanga o tēnei kura, nā te mea, whakaaro ahau mō te manaaki, te whakamana, te tiaki me te aroha.”

Whaea Irihapeti Matiaha.
Whaea Irihapeti Matiaha.

“When I was in David Seymour’s online meeting, I heard what he said about the rest of this year and we at this school will continue to benefit from this programme but next year, the year 2025, there will be two different programmes, that is one where meals will remain for years 1-6 at this school. However, for students in years 7-13, there is a different strategy in terms of the food they will get, and I’m thinking about how will that fit with this school, based on the values of this school, based according to the principles of this school, according to the traditions of this school, because I’m thinking about the principles of caring, empowering, protecting and loving.”

“Kei te āhua māharahara au, he aha te aronga whakamua.”

“I’m a bit worried, what is the direction going forward?”

Her kura receives school lunches for all 90 of its students, provided by Alfriston College. The school teaches students from year zero to year eight, so older students next year will receive different school lunches from their younger counterparts.

“Māku, e noho tahi ai māua ko Te Pae o Takaanini, kia noho mana tonu ai ngā uara o tēnei kura. Kaare au i te tino hiahia kia rerekē rawa atu ngā kai ka riro i ngā tau whitu me ngā tau waru, ki ngā kai ka riro i te toenga o te kura.”

“For me, us and Alfriston College will continue to work together, to ensure the values of this school continue to be met. I don’t really want the food that Years seven and eight get to be too different from what the rest of the school gets.”

The free school lunch programme currently offers meals to 230,000 students in about 1000 schools. Photo / RNZ
The free school lunch programme currently offers meals to 230,000 students in about 1000 schools. Photo / RNZ

She says before the announcement, she had been stressing about the lunches and whether or not the current Government would completely remove or halve it, so she joined an online hui with Seymour speaking on the new announcement.

“Tino poto te wā i riro i a au tēnei karere, e rua noa iho ngā rā e whakamōhio mai ki a au, he hui nui mo ngā tumuaki puta noa i Aotearoa kia rongo ai mātou, mai i te waha kōrero o David Seymour, he aha te aronga whakamua o Ka Ora Ka Ako.”

“I was given the message with very short notice, only two days to inform me that there was an important hui for principals all over New Zealand so we could hear, from the mouth of David Seymour, what the future would be for Ka Ora Ka Ako.”

“I roto i ngā marama kua pahure ake nei, i te kaha taumaha te pōkaikaha tēnei ki runga i ahau e pā ana ki ngā kai ka riro i taku hapori me aku taonga o tēnei kura. Me taku whakaaro hoki, ka ahatia te taha kai mā ngā tamariki o te kura nei, ka ahatia ahau, he aha he painga mōku?”

“Over the past few months, I have been extremely worried about the provision of food to my community and to my school, worried about whether the children in this school will continue to receive food, thinking about what am I going to do, what can I do?”

“Nā reira, me pono ahau, ahakoa i te taumaha ake aku whakaaro i mua i taku kuhu ki taua hui me DS, he pai ake taku tau ināianei.”

Associate Education Minister David Seymour.
Associate Education Minister David Seymour.

“I have to be honest, my thoughts were a lot heavier before I entered that meeting with David Seymour, but I feel a lot better now,” Whaea Irihapeti said.

‘There is no choice’

During the online hui, whaea asked Seymour if her school had to follow the same model due to her kura having a cultural system that treats all children equally.

“Engari karekau he kōwhiringa, me noho pū tonu kia whai rautaki rerekē ngā tau 7 ki te 13 puta noa i Aotearoa. Heoi, ki roto i tēnei kura, mā ngā tau whitu, tau waru, he rautaki rerekē kia riro ai ā rātou kai.

“However, there is no choice. We have to follow suit so that years 7 to 13 have a different programme across New Zealand. However, at this school, the years seven and eight have a different programme to get their food.

“Ko te mea tino harikoa ki a au, kei te whiwhi kai tonu, koirā te mea tino pai ki a au. Me te tau pai o taku ngākau. Heoi, ko te whakatau a David Seymour’s, mārama pai au ki tāna, ahakoa ka ōrite tonu ngā tina mō ngā tau 1 ki te tau 6, he rautaki rerekē mā ngā tau 7 me ngā tau 8 hei te tau 2025, ka ōrite ēnei rautaki e rua tae noa ki te mutunga o te tau 2026.”

“The main thing that I am happy about is that the provision of food will continue. That’s the main thing for me and I am so relieved about that. However, David Seymour’s decision, while I understand what he is doing, the lunches for years 1 to 6 will continue, but there will be a different program for years 7 and 8 in 2025 and these strategies will continue until the end of 2026.

“Kātahi ka whiu anō i te pātai, he aha te anamata o te 2026, kāre anō kia whakatau i tēnā i tēnei wa.”

“I also asked the question, so what will happen beyond 2026, but that has not been decided yet.”

Whaea Irihapeti is talking to Alfriston College to discuss school lunches before the new strategy gets rolled out next year.

What is the new lunch model?

Mapping out the new school lunch programme
Mapping out the new school lunch programme

Tamariki as young as 2 will be the beneficiaries of the new-look Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches Programme expanding its eligibility.

Morning tea and lunches will be provided to low equity, not-for-profit, community-based early childhood centres, with 10,000 new mouths to be fed.

At the same time, intermediate and secondary school students will receive lunches differently, through the Government’s new “alternative provision model”.

The new model will see the Government buy a large supply of goods, which schools can order based on demand.

Individual kura will be responsible for storing, preparing, and distributing the food.

The changes will take effect at the beginning of 2025.

This new change will leave primary school learners (years zero to six) unaffected.



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