Candidates running in the General Election in September may face a funding challenge from SeniorNet.
National pulled the financial rug from under the organisation two years ago when it re-prioritised adult learning.
The organisation’s national president, Grant Sidaway, told a Warkworth SeniorNet meeting on June 8 that the change in priorities left seniors out in the cold.
“We had a funding agreement for the previous nine years, which was worth around $400,000 annually,” Mr Sidaway says. “The money was distributed to the 74 branches nationwide and helped subsidise the courses so they were affordable.
“The government wants us all to communicate with it via the internet but puts no value on improving the digital literacy of people over 50. I’d like to see this become an election issue.”
Mr Sidaway was in town to celebrate Warkworth SeniorNet’s 20th anniversary, held at the Warkworth RSA. He congratulated past and present committee members and tutors on their achievement.
“I’d like to clone Warkworth and replicate it throughout NZ.”
There are now between 15,000 and 17,000 SeniorNet learners in NZ.
Reflecting on the pace of technological change, Mr Sidaway said that in 1980 a gigabyte of storage cost US$150,000. By 1996/97 when the Warkworth branch formed, it had dropped to $198 per gigabyte. Today, one gigabyte costs one cent.
Master of ceremonies at the luncheon was current chair Brian Oakes. Special guests included founding members Don and Wendy Hawkings and Shirley Shirley, first chairman Eric Brayshaw, long-serving committee member Garry Aitkins, and long-serving tutors Judy Wane and Ken Winter.
Neville Fursden, who now lives in Matamata, was made a Life Member in recognition of his contribution to the branch over many years.
Mr Hawkings said Roger Shore should also be recognised for his role in initiating the branch, which started in Maurice Power’s former dental surgery and house in Baxter Street (where the skatepark is now located) with second-hand furniture and computers from Telecom, as well as the odd dead rat. The first open day attracted 43 people, including two 90-year-olds who caught a taxi from Wellsford.
The branch operated from the town location for three years before moving to Matakana Road where it was based for 15 years. More recently, it moved to rooms under the Warkworth RSA.