I am very pleased to be invited here today by Te Puna Ora o Mataatua for the opening of the Tū Māia Rangatahi Hub.

I'd acknowledge Chief Executive Dr Chris Tooley and your team for all the work you have done behind the scenes in the lead up to this momentous occasion.

As a Government, we're committed to improving the employment outcomes for all New Zealanders.

As Minister of Employment, I'm particularly passionate about changing the story for our rangatahi who are not earning or learning. I want all our rangatahi to achieve their full potential.We know that nationally, the numbers of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) are reducing.However, we also know that this progress is not shared evenly and that there are places and communities, particularly Māori and Pasifika communities, where the rates of NEETs are reducing much more slowly.

That's why we've decided to do things differently through He Poutama Rangatahi. He Poutama Rangatahi supports programmes that provide tailored support for rangatahi so they are prepared for opportunities to gain sustained employment.

I remember announcing Te Puna Ora o Mataatua's He Poutama Rangatahi project Whāia Te Rangatira - Pathways to Independence in August 2018, particularly because it was one of the biggest projects to be funded through HPR.It's promising to see that the project is pressing on and helping young rangatahi in the Whakatāne area.The development of this hub will provide a great source of information and help for young rangatahi in their search for employment.

This project is one of 19 He Poutama Rangatahi projects which are currently ongoing in Eastern Bay of Plenty, Te Tai Tokerau, Te Tairāwhiti and the Hawke's Bay.He Poutama Rangatahi projects are currently helping more than 1,400 rangatahi in these regions and there are plans to help even more rangatahi get on the right path.Through this project and others, we have the potential to change the lives of rangatahi while turning the tide of the rate of young people not in employment, education or training.He Poutama Rangatahi is a crucial part of the Government's overall commitment to address youth unemployment.

On 4 February 2019, the Prime Minister announced further funding of $13.275 million for He Poutama Rangatahi.This funding from the Provincial Growth Fund will enable us to apply the He Pou Rangatahi approach to more communities in more places where there is need and work opportunity for young people. It allows us to expand the approach on a case-by-case basis in places in regional New Zealand which were not part of the initial trial.

I am heartened by the strong levels of interest in He Poutama Rangatahi, particularly from communities who are eager to help their young people to connect with the job opportunities in their local area, but have not in the past been supported with the tailored assistance they need.

Importantly, He Poutama Rangatahi, and the Provincial Growth Fund, will also help support employers to be more ready to employ local people, who have been prepared with the skills and attributes required for their work.

Entire communities will benefit when we get more at-risk rangatahi into training or work which matches the needs of local employers, and which leads to sustainable economic growth.Whakatāne is one of those communities who will benefit through the opening of this hub. It gives me great pleasure to therefore, declare the Tū Māia Rangatahi Hub, officially open.

Speech provided by Hon Willie Jackson at the opening on Tū Māia Rangatahi Hub on 15 March 2019.

Article published in Beacon Whakatane 26 March 2019

Hon Willie Jackson

Hon Willie Jackson, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Minister of Employment.

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