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May 29, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Fairer Fares Update #263

On May 23, students and VUW representatives, as well as Wellington City Council (WCC) Mayor Justin Lester, spoke in support of fairer fares for tertiary students at the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) Annual Plan hearing.

The oral submissions were backed up by over 1700 written submissions also in support of fairer fares, a third of which were from ratepayers, that had been collected by VUWSA.

VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin stressed to the GWRC that the need for fairer fares is about “access” for everyone, no matter where they live, to tertiary education.

“Throughout the campaign we’ve heard countless stories from students, particularly from those outside of Wellington, who are paying hundreds of dollars to get to class.”

He pointed to the 1700 submissions, of which the 13 councillors had been given physical copies, as evidence of the support for the issue.

However Lower Hutt Councillor Prue Lamason was less sure, suggesting “what a waste of paper.” Lenihan-Ikin retorted “not at all, that’s democracy in action.”

WCC Mayor Justin Lester said that fairer fares are “about creating a student friendly capital,” and pledged financial support to help the GWRC implement the policy.

“We are happy to see this as an economic development priority and assign money within our long term plan […] to make this a reality.”

Kahu Haimona, Tumuaki Wahine for Ngā Rangahautira (Māori Law Students’ Association), and Kahu Kutia, Ngāi Tauira (VUW Māori Students’ Association) Communications Officer, both spoke at the hearing in support fairer fares, and about the impact of high transport costs on tauira Māori.

Haimona addressed the councillors: “it is hard to experience how great this city is, if you’ve only budgeted for the week of getting to and from university.”

“Many tauira have sacrificed much, and moved away from our maraes and our whanau to be here and gaining a degree,” Kutia reflected. “Not only is this an educational issue, it is an equity issue. In making university more accessible to our tauira Māori, we are nurturing people who will take is towards a brighter future.”

“Successful bi-culturalism cannot occur as a city and as a country if Māori students are not getting into the important spaces for change-making in our society.”

Student and Campus Living Director Rainsforth Dix spoke on behalf of VUW in support of fairer fares, suggesting it was not just about the university or Wellington City. “We have a real opportunity to grow the greater Wellington region.”

Fairer fares would give “all of our potential students, as well as our current students, a real opportunity to participate in tertiary education.”

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