Part 1: Introduction

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

During the next five years, the Auditor-General proposes to carry out a series of performance audits focusing on the responsiveness of the education system to Māori and the educational achievement of Māori students.

This report discusses some of the historical and current information we have considered and sets out a framework for our proposed programme of audit work.

Why we are focusing on the educational achievement of Māori

Statistical forecasts for the make-up of our population show that, by 2030, the proportion of school-aged children who are Māori is likely to increase to around 30%.1 Current statistics for achievement suggest that, although differences in achievement are narrowing, the education system is still failing a disproportionate number of Māori students.

Moving ahead, towards new levels of achievement, new technologies, new alliances and new economies, will require more than simply a message of good hope or good intention. It will be necessary to read the signs of changes and to know how changes can be managed and manipulated to deliver the best results for the most people. Taking charge of the future rather than charging into the future.
Professor Sir Mason Durie

Achievement data and other indicators clearly show that, if effective action is not taken, then increasing numbers of Māori children will finish school without achieving their full potential. This could adversely affect their quality of life and prevent them from fully contributing to the nation's future prosperity.

New Zealand's future prosperity is inextricably linked with the achievement of these students. In our view, it is important that the education system enables and supports all children, so they achieve as highly as they can. It is in the interests of all New Zealanders that young Māori thrive academically, socially, and culturally.

In 2008, the Government, recognising the need to improve the achievement outcomes for Māori students, introduced a strategy for Māori education called Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success (Ka Hikitia).2 The Ministry of Education (the Ministry) notes that the "overarching strategic intent" of Ka Hikitia is "Māori achieving educational success as Māori".3

We recognise that raising achievement outcomes for Māori is neither quick nor easy. It is for this and the other reasons outlined above that we intend to carry out a five-year audit programme focused on Māori educational achievement.

As part of our programme of audit work, we will examine whether Ka Hikitia is being effectively implemented to deliver the desired outcomes. In 2011, the State Services Commission said that the planning for Ka Hikitia had not been clear enough about the actions required or who was responsible for them.4

It is important that the Ministry, sector agencies, and education providers build on the positive changes noted in some areas and use the good practices that have already been identified to improve outcomes. This, too, is likely to be part of our programme of audit work.

We note that many of the publicly available data sets and figures are limited and relatively dated. Looking at the availability, reliability, and meaningfulness of data used to measure Māori educational achievement is also likely to be part of our programme of audit work (see Part 4).

There is debate in the education sector about what educational success means and how it can or should be measured. Even with a more narrow focus on the grades achieved, some people argue that the education system has been successful only if a child can achieve high grades without having to set aside their culture during their time at school. There are also views about measuring success in ways that reflect the aspirations and expectations of Māori and whānau. These are matters that our programme of audit work will also need to examine.

Advisory group for our programme of audit work

We invited respected people in the field of Māori education to be on an advisory group for the duration of this programme of work. The Advisory Group's role is to enhance our understanding and help to ensure that our work will be appropriate and useful.

The Advisory Group members are:

  • Dr Mere Berryman, of Ngāi Tūhoe and Ngāti Awa (Waikato University);
  • Lorraine Kerr, of Ngāti Awa and Tūwharetoa (President of the Schools Trustees Association);
  • Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane, of Te Arawa (Canterbury University);
  • Professor Wally Penetito, of Tainui – Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Raukawa, and Ngāti Tamaterā (Victoria University of Wellington); and
  • Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith, of Ngāti Porou, Kai Tahu, Ngāti Apa, and Ngāti Kahungunu (Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi).

Methodology and scope of this report

To enable us to prepare the framework for our audit programme, we:

  • interviewed Ministry officials, the Education Review Office (ERO), the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Careers New Zealand, and two school principals;
  • reviewed a wide range of published material, some internal Ministry documents, and other material provided to us by people we interviewed; and
  • considered the advice of the Advisory Group.

Appendix 2 lists the main documents we reviewed.

To ensure that our focus remained on Māori educational achievement, we did not consider the Ministry's Pasifika education planning and initiatives, except where these coincide with planning and initiatives for Māori educational achievement.

To determine the scope of our work, we focused mainly on education for Māori from early childhood through to the transition from secondary school to tertiary education, training, and first employment. We also noted examples of programmes to support Māori in some tertiary institutions and may consider some audit work in tertiary education in the future. Because the Government's policy is being delivered through Ka Hikitia, we will link much of our work to how this strategy is being implemented.

We reviewed material about Māori-medium education. However, we focused on how achievement can be supported in the mainstream (English-medium) system because most Māori students attend English-medium educational institutions.5

We considered the activities and role of a range of public entities and other organisations, including the Ministry, other education sector agencies, schools, early childhood education (ECE) providers, and other agencies and organisations involved in lifting Māori student achievement.

In shaping and carrying out this programme of work, we will take into account:

  • 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 the 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.

We will also take into account the Auditor-General's theme for 2012/13 – Our future needs – is the public sector ready? – and its four underlying themes of prioritisation, capability, technology, and effectiveness and efficiency.

Structure of the report

Part 2 describes the roles of various public entities and their contribution to education for Māori.

Part 3 sets out the context for this report – historical information, data on the current status of Māori educational achievement, and what leading research says about supporting Māori educational achievement.

Part 4 sets out the framework for our audit programme and our proposed audit topics.

There are four appendices to this report:

  • Appendix 1 sets out the four focus areas of Ka Hikitia;
  • Appendix 2 lists some of the main documents we reviewed for this report;
  • Appendix 3 explains some of the organisations and initiatives we mention in the report; and
  • Appendix 4 briefly describes Māori-medium education.

1: In 2005, Professor Sir Mason Durie estimated the number of school students identifying as Māori would grow to 33% by 2031. In 2009, Goren estimated this number would be 29% by 2026. See Durie, M (2005), "Te Tai Tini Transformations 2025", CIGAD Working Paper Series 5/2005, Massey University, Wellington, page 1; Goren, P (2009), How Policy Travels: Making sense of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012, Fulbright New Zealand, Wellington, page 16. See also Statistics New Zealand (2010), National Ethnic Population Projections: 2006 (base)–2026 update, Wellington, pages 1, 4, and 7.

2: Ministry of Education (2008), Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012, Wellington.

3: Ministry of Education (2008), Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success Summary, Wellington, page 1.

4: State Services Commission (2011), Performance Improvement Framework: Formal Review of the Ministry of Education, page 39.

5: When we refer to "education" or "schools", we mean English-medium education and schools, except where otherwise specified.

page top