Auditor-General's overview

Education for Māori: Context for our proposed audit work until 2017.

Every child in New Zealand deserves to thrive physically, academically, socially, and culturally. Achieving their potential is important for them and for every New Zealander, because our future prosperity depends on an educated workforce. Therefore, it is important that the education system serves all students well.

Improving the education of our Māori children is vital. By 2030, about 30% of our students, and therefore our future workforce, will be Māori.

Some trends in educational achievement seem to be improving, and many Māori students do very well at school. However, overall, our English-medium schools do not support Māori students to achieve as highly as other students; nor do they retain Māori students for as long as other students. This affects the qualifications that Māori students leave school with, and could adversely affect the contribution they might otherwise have wanted to make to society and the economy.

Serving New Zealand's future needs means we have to make sure that the education system performs well for Māori and that the needs of Māori children in education are met.

This report describes the history of education policy and developments for Māori, sets out some leading research and statistics, and describes the role of the various government agencies involved in education. Under the Ministry of Education's Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success strategy, there are many initiatives and programmes to lift Māori participation, engagement, and achievement. It is important that these initiatives and programmes are well designed, are implemented effectively, and achieve the intended results.

Without doubt, improving the education system to support Māori students to achieve their full potential is a big and complex challenge. For most of us, it is too big to know where to start. During our scoping work for this report, we decided on some questions that we consider make this challenge more digestible. Those questions helped us prepare a framework to guide our selection of audit activity under one overarching and important question:

How well does the education system currently support Māori students to achieve their full potential and contribute to the future prosperity of New Zealand?

This question is so important that I propose to perform audits on this topic for each of my remaining years as Auditor-General. For 2012/13, the audit focus will be:

Ka Hikitia is the educational strategy for supporting young Māori to thrive academically, socially, and culturally for New Zealand's future: Are there proper processes and practices in schools and other educational agencies to support that strategy?

I encourage people reading this report to think about our list of other possible audits in education for Māori and share your thoughts about those you think would be of most value. My Office's contact details and more information are on our website (

In shaping and performing our audit work, we will take account of:

  • the need to achieve value for money from public funds and the scarcity of those funds;
  • wider developments as we move into a post-Treaty settlement environment;
  • the importance of the students and their whānau as well as government agencies/schools; and
  • the importance of looking at all aspects of the system to take a rounded view of how well it is working.

I have established an Advisory Group of esteemed Māori with respected education credentials to work alongside us for the next five years. I would like to sincerely thank that group – Dr Mere Berryman, Lorraine Kerr, Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane, Professor Wally Penetito, and Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith. Their insights and wisdom are invaluable, and I am grateful they have agreed to continue to be involved as I report on further aspects of the education system for Māori.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

6 August 2012

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