Skip to content

Ten Years: Opportunity or sentence


11 October 2021

“Tertiary education institutions have been given ten years to address the differences in the levels of academic outcomes for Māori and Pacific students.”

Tertiary Education Commission

11 October 2021

Ten years is a very long time. Calculate the numbers of Māori and Pasifika students who face the provision of programmes that have been declared as failing in terms of equity and therefore access to a sound tertiary programme. Ten cohorts of students. Pukenga will have to respond to these challenges immediately and, I would have thought, well within the ten-year deadline.

Ten years is a very long time. And those who have been keen to see progress with these priority learner groups are disappointed that some excellent educators had not been met with widespread support and sustained focus over the past decades that are required action to change the pedagogical skillsets and frameworks were clearly failing.

Six times ten years is a much longer time and over that time I have seen the a stream of Māori educators bring their wisdom and guidance to this issue of equity and access in higher education education but it seems not to have been influential to the extent that is needed. Sir Mason Durie with his conceptual framework of Te Whare Tapa Wha and the role of taha tinana, taha hinengaro, taha wairua and taha whanau has over many years influenced those who he has reached out to. Russell Bishop brought his Te Kotahitanga Programme worked over a wide belt of tertiary teachers with his emphasis on effective and culturally responsive pedagogy. Ranginui Walker, Rose Pere, Manuka Henare,…….  a long list supplemented by many dozens of Māori teachers and lecturers who have worked hard, often without effective support, in their institutions. Seemingly the problem beats the process of change and that means that this time the changes must be understood and bedded firmly into everyone’s professional psyche, not just the few in each tertiary institution charged with “doing something about Māori and Pasifika outcomes”.

Interestingly, ten years ago saw the establishment of the first Tertiary High School which was the result of my observation that as much as tertiary institutions work honestly and with good intent the statistics of educational outcomes remained stubbornly resistant to change. The structure of schooling was not serving priority learners well with the persistently shaky transitions, unclear pathways, and half-hearted preparation for further education. This led to the situation in the 1970s and 1980s of+ an education system that was performing to a high standard, comparable to the best of overseas systems, at the top but a tough tussle of failure in the lower third of the students where the performance of our students was raising questions and troubled many in the community who were critical of the levels not being achieved. Disengagement was rife.

But change was made, dual enrolment was found to be possible, funding issues were overcome (using funding differently) and the education law of the land changed to make. These changes were not only made the tertiary high school model possible but also created an environment in which trade academies were possible. In the past decade the Tertiary High School has offered a stable and successful pathway to tertiary qualifications for approximately 1,500 students while trades academies, a collaborative effort between secondary schools and polytechnics, have reached out to 46,000 students who are engaged in secure pathways to secondary qualifications and subsequently tertiary qualifications and employment.

This time around change can and must must be made. Not the situation where, in Charles Payne’s view[1] the hiss and the roar, “So much Reform, So little change!”  Ōritetanga is a start which must now be spread and secured across the sector! 


 Charles Payne (2010), SO MUCH REFORM, so little change, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge Ma.

Published inEducation


  1. Helen Anderson Helen Anderson

    Good Morning Stuart
    Certainly agree with your comments on the timeframe and more importantly your focus on excellent teaching as an important part of the solution. There is not enough direct and driving attention to the quality of teachers, teaching and pedagogical innovation in the new Act and the Te Pūkenga Charter. Effective Learning and Teaching is in very considerable part about resourcing, supporting, researching, networking, educating and professional learning for teachers as well as valuing what they bring to the role from their cultural knowledge and their vocational skill base / otherwise its another 10 years of being hopeful!!

  2. Linda Aumua Linda Aumua

    Ten Years and when thats not met another ten and another target- seriously exhausting for those of us who have been in the sector to see the constant shift and shuffling of equity targets.Agree, we have sufficient research to make the shift but can TEC really bring institutes to account??

  3. Danny Liufalani Danny Liufalani

    Remember the hardwork you put through and your passion with education,I guessed this remains another legacy in your chapter of excellence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *