Rotorua Daily Post asked their Rotorua election panel what they think are the most pressing issues facing the education sector.

Brett Wilson

Name: Brett Wilson

Age: 52

Occupation: Watchdog Security chief executive officer

As an employer in this town, I get many people looking for work who have the literary skills of Forrest Gump. Our education system is failing many, including disproportionately greater numbers of young Māori in this town, although that is also linked with incompetent parenting, welfare dependency, absent fathers etc.

We need different education options for different dynamics and groups.

Charter schools like South Auckland Middle School have succeeded where mainstream schools have failed poor Māori and Pacifika children in that area. Offer a variety of educational pathway structures, some trade-focused, some academic, so that kids have a system that works for them.


Ngaa Ruuira Puumanawawhiti

Name: Ngaa Ruuira Puumanawawhiti

Age: 23

Occupation: Cultural market manager, New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute

Lack of widespread civics education may, and probably will, reveal itself once again in one of its many forms as we approach the final countdown to when a nation decides on its government. If the State does, in fact, play a role in public education, isn’t it important that a nation’s citizens are equipped with the tools required to participate in the political life of that society?

Core subjects should include civics, Aotearoa-New Zealand history and te reo MĀori.


Heather Keefe

Name: Heather Keefe

Age: 40s

Occupation: Accountant

Education cannot be articulated generically. Specifics can be detrimental, social issues influence educational achievement being part of the wider spectrum. Topical is the lack of teaching staff. Qualified teachers abound. Innumerable trained teachers are not in the industry. No positions available. A colleague applied for two positions and later found 400 applicants had applied, prompting the disappointed to look elsewhere. Large numbers of trained teachers are not teaching! Factor in exorbitant living costs. Our mentors cannot afford to live in some locations!

Government’s increase in budget, introducing a second language to the curriculum, has excellent merit. Communities too must take ownership!

Yes, look to central government to assist but shouldn’t we all invest in our children’s future?


Fraser Newman

Name: Fraser Newman

Age: 31

Occupation: Bookshop owner

The most pressing issue is basic literacy and numeracy.

Literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of future success. Since the 1980s we’ve seen a steady decline in outcomes, and broadening inequality in achievement. I don’t think there is one easy answer, but obviously we need to close the gap (in a good way). Among a basket of solutions is measuring achievement, targeted spending and parental engagement. I also like how charter schools have been able to team up with iwi for community-led education to meet local needs, especially for Māori achievement. I’m not an ideologue, I just want to see kids succeed.


Theresa McLean

Name: Theresa McLean

Age: 18

Occupation: Student

I think that in terms of schools, ensuring all students are coming out with good literacy skills and creativity is really important.

I think it’s important we don’t only teach kids to be test savvy, but to be independent and creative thinkers.

This goes hand-in-hand with being sure to acknowledge that jobs that don’t require a university education are just as valuable as jobs that do. In terms of tertiary education, something that I’m worried about at the moment is the cost of living and studying, and whether my student loan will adequately cover this.


Russell Hallam

Name: Russell Hallam

Age: 72

Occupation: Retired school principal

Student engagement, student achievement.

We need to ask  our aspiring members of Parliament and Government how they will improve the levels of engagement of our learners – from preschool through to tertiary.

How they will ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve to their full potential? That’s what our learners, of all ages and levels of ability, deserve and need. The focus is on the resources the learner requires to engage and achieve, building on successful practice and pedagogy. This may require a change to collective forward-thinking of our politicians, education leaders and communities of education.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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