Another hare-brained idea from a government full of them!

Education has failed predominantly Maori and Pasifika children for over a decade so what does this government do? They abolish charter schools – which were producing great results – and unveil their solution: moving toward te Reo becoming mandatory.

Te reo alert. Cartoon credit BoomSlang The BFD

In 1996 school attendance was roughly 90% which dropped to 62% in 2019-2020. Truants were predominately Maori and Pasifika children.

This week the government talked about the requirement for all teachers to learn te Reo and tikanga because although they’re not compulsory yet, the Greens and the Maori Party have been pushing for several years to make them compulsory.

“Teachers must declare that they are developing and practising te reo and tikanga in order to renew their annual practising certificate. But a Ministry of Education paper to Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis earlier this year said the Teaching Council was not applying the requirement to all teachers.”

Davis knows very well this is the thin edge of the wedge. The government will put pressure on teachers to learn te Reo, and those who disagree will leave.

“The [Teaching ] council’s chief executive, Lesley Hoskin said the requirement had been part of teachers’ professional standards for years, but this year the council made it an explicit part of the recertification process.
She said teachers must formally declare they have met the standard and their principal or the manager of their early learning service must attest that is correct. However, she said some principals or managers had not ‘ticked the box’ to say a teacher had progressed their knowledge in te reo and tikanga Maori.”


The teaching environment is geared toward whatever this government wants. Teachers can choose to stick their head above the parapet to protest the futility or keep their mouths shut and leave teaching.

What about Pasifika children, or other ethnicities who are also struggling? How will learning te Reo improve their educational outcomes?

Education experts can argue till the cows come home about the reasons for poor educational outcomes but no one disputes the statistics showing children are not learning as well as they used to.

“…educational standards have plummeted. Despite a 32% real rise in per-pupil spending since 2001, students have gone from world-leading to decidedly average.
In reading, maths and science students now perform far worse than the previous generation just eighteen years ago. In all three subjects, 15-year-olds have lost the equivalent of between three and six terms’ worth of schooling. Far fewer pupils today perform at the highest levels. Far more lack the most basic proficiency.
Worse, in the latest round of OECD testing, New Zealand recorded the strongest relationship between socioeconomic background and educational performance of all its comparator English-speaking countries.”

The New Zealand Initiative

It should be no surprise to discover poor educational outcomes result from socioeconomic issues not ethnicity.

Is it too much for educational experts to ask Alwyn Poole for the secret of his success achieved by charter schools? Of course it is. Poole is on the wrong end of the political spectrum.

Charter school attendance was at 90% with 90% or more Maori and Pacific Island students; and charter school students performed much higher than New Zealand’s average NCEA results.

The prime minister must be over the moon at the serious grooming of school children by the education system in preparation for soaking up her politics. Politics has been bending and shaping education over the last decade and this move toward compulsory te Reo has nothing to do with improving educational outcomes for Maori or anyone else.

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Maori Children Are Failing in Education So Let’s All Learn Te Reo!

Suze is an avid reader and writer after a career in accounting starting in the farming industry. 10 years working in the NZ mining industry made her passionate about accessing our resource potential whilst...