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Arowhenua Māori School

Arowhenua is a decile 4 contributing school located in Temuka. It has a roll of 21.

The school was part of a financial education trial in 2007 initiated by Ngāi Tahu and the Retirement Commission (now the Commission for Financial Capability). It was implemented in Arowhenua School from years 1-6 by teaching principal Toni O’Neil.

We planned a cross curricular unit for 10 weeks, which ended with a Big Day Out. The unit focused on students' understanding the values of excellence and community, becoming competent at managing themselves, while developing budgeting and saving skills for the day because:

  • our students needed extra opportunities to take on responsibilities and set goals
  • we had a big focus on literacy and developing home/school relationships
  • our children didn't have many opportunities to manage money and little experience of how money could be earned, saved, and spent
  • we wanted to develop a positive, responsible culture based on developing a worth ethic using the theory that incentives do matter, whether they be intrinsic or external.
  • we wanted students to see that hard work + planning = choice.


To begin, we contacted the whānau and organised a hui at school. We told them that we intended on providing computers with the contract money to start the trial. This meant parents saw a tangible advantage through being involved. The number of whānau attending was above our expectations and they were positively supportive of our venture. They made links to Whai Rawa and wanted to investigate starting school banking.

Whai Rawa is a medium to long-term saving scheme, specifically designed for Ngāi Tahu whānui. Whai Rawa supports and encourages Ngāi Tahu to increase their social and economic independence and self-sufficiency; to empower individuals, their whānau and all Ngāi Tahu.

Learning areas


  • Number and algebra level 1 AO1 | level 2 AO1 | level 3 AO1

Social sciences

  • level 1 AO2 | level 2 AO2 | level 3 AO2

Health and physical education

  • Healthy communities and environments

Financial capability matrix of learning outcomes

Managing money and income

  • Money level 1
  • Income level 1
  • Saving levels 1, 2, 3
  • Spending and budgeting level 2

Setting goals and planning ahead

  • Setting financial goals levels 1, 2
  • Identifying and managing risk level 1

Key competencies

Through developing the concept of saving, students were able to set goals, manage themselves, and understand the value of doing their best work.


Students were encouraged to value 'community and participation for the common good' through considering how the money they raised could be used. The students wanted to use left over money for the whole group, supporting the school's kaupapa of whakawhanaukataka (kinship, links, ties) - valuing community.

Note: This trial was conducted in 2007 and learning areas and strands have been fitted to the revised curriculum where possible.

Developing financial capability

Using the Big Day Out as a context, students were given a budget to plan a fun day for the end of term.

Children began by surveying peers and parents to find out what people like to do on a fun day, then presented their findings. Next, they had to investigate prices and costs associated with the most popular events. After brainstorming and researching ideas, the activities were planned. During this process they designed budgets, kept records, investigated and compared prices. Problems with lack of money were issues the students had experience with, and providing them with budgeting skills in a real context was very powerful.

To participate in the Big Day Out students had to pay for the planned activities. They found out how different people earned money. One activity was for students to interview someone about their job. We then identified what makes a good worker, including work ethic. We wanted students to understand and value doing their best and how this provides a worker with satisfaction.

Kura dollars were introduced and a school bankbook was provided to all students. Each student set themselves a financial goal to meet and completed tasks to achieve it. Tasks included things such as completing homework, working toward reading goals, and doing chores around the school. Students knew that they were part of a project and that doing a good job meant they got paid. Bankbooks were filled in each week with earnings as students managed their time and effort to reach their goals.

Some improvement was noted at the beginning of the term but quite a few didn’t put their best effort in until the eleventh hour, when it was clear that they may not have enough money to participate in all activities. Each student needed at least $30 to participate in all three activities. Some had less than $10 by week 5 and began working purposefully toward the target in week 8. We saw this as a positive, as students were learning from their mistakes and in the long term this experience would set them up well for the future.

Other activities that supported financial literacy learning included:

  • English - reading activities. Journal stories were added to the senior class reading programme. Themes included problem gambling, fundraising, pocket money, donations. Critical thinking activities were used to develop themes.
  • New coins activities were very timely, and the Reserve Bank website and the Sorted website were used to reinforce numeracy lessons.
  • Junk mail budgeting was useful to provide students with practice in using number operations to budget. Given a set amount of money, students were able to plan spending and cut out purchases from junk mail, this included car buying, shopping for electronics, and selecting presents.
  • Social sciences - students found out about the famous people on bank notes. This included their achievements and what they represented. Students designed their own kura dollars based on the information they gained from the inquiry as part of the visual language programme.
  • Students searched for jobs and undertook some career investigation, including interviewing someone about their job. This research provided positive development for many students, providing them with a wider understanding of the types of jobs there are.


Productive partnerships were developed as whānau became more involved throughout the programme. Personal financial education provides a context for identifying and developing values of excellence and community in our school.

Students developed better understandings of financial literacy.

We can see the benefits in financial education, as it provides:

  • Authentic contexts for numeracy, literacy, and key competencies such as managing self. Algebra, numeracy, and measurement were all covered during the maths programme. An improved understanding of decimals was gained through dollar and cent amounts using authentic contexts.
  • A more developed understanding of saving, spending, and how personal and social issues affect these. The concept of saving was developed successfully, as students were able to set goals, manage themselves, and understand the value of doing their best work. This was an enormous improvement from the beginning of the unit, where students had limited experience of saving. As part of their evaluation, students indicated they wanted to continue the bankbook incentive. They had money left over from the Big Day Out and were unanimous in their desire to save it for the end of term 4. They also wanted it used for the whole group; this supports our kaupapa of whakawhanaukataka (kinship, links, ties) - valuing community.
  • Exposure to good career role models and information.
  • The possibility of developing a school saving culture, supported by whānau desires to start a saving scheme. Students understood koha and donations through practical experiences during the term, including Jump Rope for Heart, but they hadn't been involved in an initiative where they gave money away before. They identified ways they could donate time and money to their marae community and gained an appreciation of how others donate to them, that is, Poua Taua Group. Our unit led students to identify fundraising as an area they want to explore further.

Resource recommendations

Published on: 20 Jun 2017