Riana Bennett

Ryan, 4, and Maia, 1, are both registered members of the iwi and Whai Rawa, and the Bennetts are just one whānau of many. More than 70 per cent of Ngāi Tahu’s registered children are also already Whai Rawa account holders; every pēpe signed up by parents before their first birthday is kickstarted with a gift of $100 into their account.

Riana Bennett (Makaawhio, Ngāti Mahaki) is a mother.

And before motherhood, there were different priorities. But, since two tamariki have come along, there was suddenly a more concrete long term future to plan for.

“It’s my main goal now to provide for my kids. Before them, it was all about me and ‘what am I doing Saturday night’ – but now in all our financial aspects and aspirations, we’re looking towards the kids.”

Whai Rawa enables her and husband Jeremy to do just that – with ease. Ryan, 4, and Maia, 1, are both registered members of the iwi and Whai Rawa, and the Bennetts are just one whānau of many. More than 70 per cent of Ngāi Tahu’s registered children are also already Whai Rawa account holders; every pēpe signed up by parents before their first birthday is kickstarted with a gift of $100 into their account.

Riana says the administrative side of signing up can be a barrier for whānau, but adds the Whai Rawa applications are well worth it in the end.

“I don’t want them to have a financial burden if they want to study something amazing… if I can provide that for my kids, it means that when they go to buy their first home there will be money sitting there.

“As soon as they were born, we set up bank accounts for them, we got their IRD numbers sorted and they have their Whai Rawa accounts. Actually, the kids have more money than me!”

Riana has been a member of the iwi saving scheme since it began in 2006 and hasn’t made a withdrawal to date.

“[It’s for] retirement, absolutely,” she says, nodding.

Her grandparents lost faith in saving schemes after money they invested in 1975 was effectively wiped under Robert Muldoon’s government. The money was never returned.

“They lost faith in government schemes. I don’t want to be struggling, so we’ve thought ‘what can we do now and in the next 30-40 years?’

“My beliefs are that I have my faith and trust in Ngāi Tahu.”