Hekia speaks with forked tongue


There was a prescient moment at Wednesday night’s Tick For Kids education forum in Wellington.

Hekia Parata had just wound up, and Tracey Martin MP took her place at the lectern. Without a pause she said that the education sector had been under prolonged and determined attack from this government.

And then, boom, she underlined the exact problem in education at the moment.

It was sublime

Hekia with forked tongueMartin said that what the Minister of Education proposes to do often sounds perfectly sensible and that if what Parata intended were what she said she intended, things would be fine.

The trouble, said Martin, is that what Hekia Parata says and what she intends are not the same thing.

In other words, the Minister speaks with forked tongue.


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This was particularly prescient because later in the week we were to hear from Nicky Hager that this modus operandi is almost National Party policy: Say what sounds good and do what you like.

The trouble for Hekia Parata is that teachers and parents have already noticed the discrepancy between what is said and what is done.

This is why we mistrust the Minister.


A history of forked tongedness

We heard her say she was looking at funding schools based on achievement outcomes for students.

She denied it.

We heard Hekia say she would consult fairly with the schools she intended to merge or close in Christchurch.

She didn’t.

We heard her say, when announcing the proposed closures and mergers of Christchurch schools, “This is genuine consultation.”

It wasn’t.

We heard her say of Christchurch schools “We’ve done everything we can to try and minimise that on the back of what’s been a very difficult situation.”  

She hadn’t.

We heard her say at her announcement to close Salisbury School that ““[a]t the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more children with complex needs in their local community.”  

Not true.  

The decision to close Salisbury had been made in 2011, before the review was even announced.  And just ask the community in Phillipstown how well they feel they were listened to during the ‘consultations’.

And so back to this week’s education forum.


Spin, avoidance and outright untruths

With our own ears, a packed room heard Hekia say that special needs is an area of special focus for her.


She said the majority of parents and teachers were pleased with National Standards.


She said the new wraparound service for children with special education needs is working well.


She said IES is just the ticket for improving schools.


She said the select committee took heed of submissions on EDUCANZ.

Like hell they did.

She said partnership schools are doing well.

Prove it.

She said the biggest impact on student achievement is good teachers.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

And she said there is not a problem with low morale in the education sector.

You have GOT to be %$#@*&^ kidding me, lady!


Seeing through the obfuscation

You see, many of us sat there through the Education Amendment Bill submissions, both the first and the second lot, and we heard many, many people make incredible well reasoned arguments for changes to the proposals.  And we saw the Minister each time make just a teeny token change to appease the masses and allow a positive press release.  The rest was completely ignored.  The plan was cut and dried before anyone submitted a thing.

And so now we know all too well what Hekia’s brand of consultation looks like.

Does it look like the Minister has told us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

And have you any reason to believe, given another term, she’d be any better?

As Hager says in Dirty Politics, “how easy it is to spin and manipulate.”

Look at the evidence.  Don’t fall for it.



Sources and further reading:




School closures about saving Hekia, not kids









  1. National Standards is a euphemism for rubbishy and meaningless school reports and a whole bunch of vague statistics arranged to look impressive, but actually meaning very little. The “idea” of national standards is good, no argument, but what we are told we will get and what we actually get are completely different. Parata’s attitude is to stick her fingers in her ears and say “la la la, I’m not listening” or to take notice only of sources that she can trust to agree with her. These are already very scarce and are dwindling by the day.

  2. What parata and Collins have proved is that women are on a level footing with men its unfortunate they have chosen to be just as bent as some of there colleagues.

  3. Hikia says she has consulted with teachers. But lets ask which ones.Have a read of the PACT treasury report to see that the agenda is talk only to the teachers and principles who agree with the change. The lack of true democratic consultation is appalling.

  4. Having attended meetings led by Ministry officials (read here: salesmen) I can say that the so-called “consultation” consisted of:
    – this is what we ARE going to do and there is no discussion on this
    – how would you implement this change (this EXACT programme – do not suggest any modifications at all) if it were up to you
    – no we don’t want to hear your opinions or views
    – thank you for your time.
    You decide.

  5. Great article Dianne, and so true.

    I’ve been teaching for almost 6 years, so started about the time the Nats got into govt. Over that time the focus has been increasingly on ‘results’ (students gaining as many excellences as possible), and on proving you are a good teacher by filling out endless, arbitrary paperwork. At the same time, the Nats have been carefully fostering the idea that the public should be suspicious of teachers.

    I have not seen anything that would indicate this govt is actually there to support teachers to be their best or to improve education. Instead it is all about manipulating results so the public believes progress is being made. It is such a shame because the NZ curriculum is incredibly open and encouraging of critical thinking, and could be doing so much for our young people. Instead, we are breaking them down into analysable data.

  6. Here is an example of Parata consulting one of the schools, at a meeting for teachers and parents as described to me my two people I later queried on how exactly this consultation process was conducted.

    Minister Parata sat at the front of those gathered. Beside her, was a ministerial adjutant of some description, that nobody was sure exactly what their position was. Various questions for the reasoning of this particular school’s closure were put to the minister, however, no solid responses were given, other than following the typical line that it was all due to the complexities created by the EQs. No hard evidence or statistics were ever given, and no note taking was conducted as you would expect if the meeting was part of any proper consultation process. The entire time during the meeting, there was a overall feeling from those present, that the minister was not genuinely interested, and was only there for show. Her demeanor and expressions conveyed no acknowledgement of ideas being put before her. Some described her general attitude as cold, and like a stone. Her support sidekick even more so, with an almost death stare look towards the crowd.
    A few weeks later the school got a response that the school was going to be closed. Absolutely no mention or acknowledgement of the parents/teachers concerns and questions raised at the meeting
    That is how consultation from Minister Parata and her government is performed.

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