Hekia Parata was one of the big winners in today’s Cabinet line-up announcement, taking over the education portfolio from Anne Tolley and increasing her Cabinet placing from 20th to 7th.
Political editor Duncan Garner spoke with Ms Parata today about her promotion and what her plans are for the education sector.
• Click ‘view video’ for the interview
• Full Cabinet list
• Duncan’s story on the new Cabinet line-up
“I’m extremely excited,” Ms Parata says. “I’m very honoured and excited as you can imagine and I think that it’s a great job that the Prime Minister has given me”.
“Education has many challenges but it has so many opportunities…I want to see achievement raised across the board,” she says.
She says New Zealand has a world-class education system that does very well for four out of five students.
“But for one out of five, they don’t have such a good experience and too many of those are Maori, Pacifica and low income families and I think that I want to tackle that with some urgency – we don’t have a generation to waste.
“There’s no silver bullet, there’s no one way but I think we have to increase participation at early childhood level….we have to make sure there’s a wide range of choice available to parents and there’s quality early childhood education available to them.”
The transition period between early and primary education and again from primary to secondary are areas Ms Parata says she would focus on because they are the most vulnerable times for young people.
How does Ms Parata plan to do things differently to predecessor Anne Tolley?
“We are two different people but we are going in exactly the same direction which is all about how we raise achievement, how we assure parents that their kids are getting the best possible education at their local school, how do we ensure those schools are led with the best possible leadership and that the teacher in the classroom is delivering the highest quality of education,” she says.