Rebuild growing Chch Maori population

Jarrod Cameron, 20, moved to Christchurch from Rotorua to learn the building trade through the Ara He Toki ki te Rika Māori Trades Training programme.

Jarrod Cameron moved to Christchurch this year to become a builder – just like his mum.

He moved from Rotorua in February with six of his mates, some of the many young Māori who have moved to Christchurch since the earthquakes.

Canterbury already has the second-fastest growing Māori population in the country – something the health board has described as an “unprecedented growth rate”.

Jarrod and his friends moved to be part of the rebuild.

They met while studying at the New Zealand Sports Academy, and while there they heard about the Ara He Toki ki te Rika Māori Trades Training programme.

Jarrod said his mum, Martha, had been a builder before she had her children, and it was a trade he always wanted to learn.

“I always wanted to be a builder, so when our tutor told us about this we jumped on it,” he said.

He said the sports opportunities were another thing that drew them to Christchurch.

(L to R) Tamamutu Whata,18, Jade Church, 20, Jarrod Cameron, 20, Jessie Anderson,19 and Temanawapa Whata, 18 all from Rotorua, living in Christchurch and students at Ara campus learning the building trade.

The Belfast Rugby Club had supported Jarrod and his friends in the move, inviting them to join the team and even helping them find a flat where they could all live together.

After just a few months at the course, one of the friends already had an apprenticeship lined up, while the others had work experience and potential opportunities set up.

But it wasn’t all an easy transition.

“I thought I was in a different country at first, it was seriously cold,” Jarrod said.

And although Christchurch’s Māori population may be growing, he said he was still surprised by how “white” it was.

“You don’t really see many Māori here. I don’t mind it, but you notice it. We did a haka for the rugby club when we came here, and some boys said it was the first one they had ever seen,” he said.

But he said he loved the city, the Ara course, and the people he had met, and hoped to make Christchurch his home long-term.

He Waka Tapu chief executive Dallas Hibbs said many Māori had moved to Christchurch to help with the rebuild, seeing it as “a great place for hard working Kiwis”.

“The overwhelming majority are making positive contributions to the economy, to their school community and sporting teams, and quite literally to the building of the city.”

But that came with its own challenges.

He said demand for the whanau-based services his organisation provided, which include health, counselling and family support, had grown up to 300 per cent over the past five years – and funding for the services had not kept up.

He said extra funding was needed in a lot of areas in Christchurch, including mental health and addictions, domestic violence, suicide prevention and Well Child programmes.

Health services are also concerned about how they will handle the growth in demand for the services, which include interpreters working in the health system, information and advice networks, and services targeting specific health problems in parts of the community.

At the time of the last census in 2013, there were 31,800 people who identified themselves as Māori living in Christchurch, making up 9 per cent of the city’s population.

Within 20 years, by 2038, Statistics NZ predicts that will rise to 54,300 – 13 per cent of the city’s population.

The story is similar for people of Asian heritage, who are set to be the fastest growing ethnic group over the next 20 years, rising to 19 per cent of the city’s population, from just 10 per cent in 2013.

Christchurch Multicultural Council president Surinder Tandon said a lot of organisations supporting minority communities in Christchurch were run by volunteers, so growing numbers were a challenge for them.

But the predicting how the population might rise gave them an opportunity to develop a solid plan for the future, he said.

“There is no shortage of ethnic leaders and volunteers willing to provide their time to provide services to the ethnic community, we just need closer collaboration with these Government organisations,” he said.

He said the minority communities were not asking for more services than other people.

Their main need was support to understand what services were available, and how to access them, he said.

Potential issues as the populations grow have been considered as part of the Canterbury District Health Board’s 2016-2020 statement of intent.

“Like age, ethnicity is a strong indicator of need for health services and some populations are more vulnerable to poor health outcomes than others,” it said.

It specifically mentioned the Asian population as an area where more focus would be needed.

“We need to carefully consider the unique health needs of this large population group, including the growing number of refugee and migrant families coming into Canterbury.”

But Community and Public Health Committee chairwoman Anna Crighton said that with resources so tight since the earthquakes, their top priority was keeping essential hospital services running as smoothly as they could.

“Naturally we keep statistics on the growth in these communities and we monitor everything, but at the end of the day what we’re doing is providing a health service for everyone. If we can improve it, it helps everyone,” she said.