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Raising Education Achievement for all NZ children

Hon Minister Hekia Parata

Hekia Parata

Minister Parata is the Minister of Education and the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs.

Minister Parata grew up in Ruatoria and is of Ngati Porou and Ngai Tahu descent.

She has lived and worked in Wellington for most of the past 30 years during which she has worked in the both the public and private sectors, holding senior policy and management positions and running a successful consultancy company with her husband Sir Wira Gardiner advising clients in New Zealand and internationally.

She has represented New Zealand at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, DC, and at a number of multinational forums including the South Pacific Forum, the United Nations Forum and the World Bank Forum.

Minister Parata has been in Parliament since 2008. She is married to Sir Wira and they have two teenage daughters.

“I love this job!”

By David Pine 

A recent international survey of 15-year-old school pupils from 76 countries showed that New Zealand students ranked 7th in educational achievement. Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary’s meeting on 10th September, NZ’s highly enthusiastic Education Minister Hon Hekia Parata commented that, as evidenced by this result, NZ had a world class education system.

“However, when we analyse this result by ethnic group, we find a wide disparity of achievement levels. European New Zealanders are ranked second in the world, Asian students are in 7th place, while Maori children rank 34th, and Pacifica students are in 44th place.” Minister Parata, who is also Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, was clearly passionate about wanting to do everything she could to raise achievement levels of the latter 3 groups. “I just love this job!”

“International studies have shown conclusively that there are four main factors which significantly affect achievement levels of school students. Two of them are internal to the school – the quality of teachers, and the quality of school leadership. The other two are external – the strength of parental support, and the expectations of the community in which each school is located.”

HekiaMinister Parata, who is a member of Plimmerton Rotary, believed that one important key to raising achievement levels in the future was to encourage as many students as possible to become proficient in at least two languages. “Bilingualism is a propeller for educational achievement. It is a good idea on many levels – culturally, because it encourages immigrants to retain the use of the language of their home country; internally, because it promotes harmony within NZ; and externally, to foster our relationships with people in other countries.”

On her relationship with teacher groups, the Minister noted that privately, the relationship was respectful and becoming more professional. “But many members of the news media would have you believe otherwise. They seem to have a fixation for emphasising the negative, when there is so much to be enthusiastic about.”

The Minister was delighted to announce that following lobbying by herself and her staff at the recent International Summit on the Teaching Profession, the next Summit would be held in New Zealand. “This summit involves the 25 countries in the OECD that have the top performing education systems. The conference will be held in Wellington in March of 2014.”


AmbulanceWellington Free Ambulance Street Appeal, Friday 13 September. We are looking after a position in Cobham Court. More offers of help are needed for an hour during the day.  Please contact Jenny Lucas on

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