NZ Principals Federation MOOT SPEECH -Friday 10 June 2022 


It’s a pleasure to be here today in person “ka nohi ke te ka nohi, face to face as we look back on a very challenging two years when you as Principals, as leaders in education, have pivoted, and done what you needed to do, under challenging circumstances for your students and Staff, acknowledging your leadership, and courage.

E le tu fa’amauga se tagata – Is a Samoan proverb that says - Nobody stands alone like an island, it is important that we work together as a team and can I at the outset, acknowledge also your team work and collective pulling together, of Staff and students, this government acknowledging, we could not have done it without all your leadership and support.

And as we rebuild our school communities and mahi in this new normal, we find ourselves redoubling our efforts to strengthen equity and excellence in education, and to support our students in all their diversity and complexity that they bring to school each day and our Staff.

We are all aware of what COVID has done to challenges that pre-existed the last two years and the systemic challenges we continue to face today, both in and outside the class room and in the Staffroom.  For our Pacific students, these challenge are complex and multi layered, and for Principals that live and work in our Pacific communities, or those with a Pacific cohort no matter how big or small, I wanted to encourage you today, that government wants to give you the tools to get every student, and especially our Pacific students across the line – thriving, skilled, qualified and engaged citizens of Aotearoa.

As I address you as principals, Pacific communities hold you in high regard, something important for you to be aware of in your roles.


We know that Pacific families in New Zealand are diverse and hold high aspirations for the education of their children and young people. So many of our young Pacific students come to school, weighted with the aspirations of their Parents, or migrant Grandparents who sought access to education and a better life for their children, with more than 60 percent of Pacific students born and raised in Aotearoa.

Currently, Pacific learners make up around 9 percent (or around 139,000) of total New Zealand learners, which is now more than the total Pacific population of Aotearoa. And these numbers continue to grow. By 2028, it is estimated that there will be around 225,000 learners of Pacific decent in New Zealand or seventeen percent of New Zealand’s total learner population.

This means that, in six years, the number of Pacific learners in the New Zealand education system will exceed the total population of Wellington City. Now that is why it is critical that Pacific leaners succeed in their education for New Zealand’s economy and for our nation – these are the people we will rely on when we retire! That generation I call the 6BS, are the generation that will be supporting our economy as we retire, so it is in our best interests they are qualified and engaged in the world outside the classroom and school gates.

The good news for Aotearoa is that more and more Pacific learners than ever before are succeeding in education. And Participation in early learning is on the rise, as is achievement NCEA, along with participation in tertiary education and vocational training, but there is still more work to do, especially in the cultural capital and cultural intelligence space.

We also know however, that attendance and engagement remains a challenge for Pacific leaners, and especially after COVID, with systemic barriers that existed when I was at school, still pushing back against change. These barriers include the cost of participation, such as school donations, transport, uniforms, household income, language acquisition and literacy rates, meaning that some learners are having to leave school early to support their families and provide an income and some just never return.

Other barriers, and  identified by Pacific learners and their families include a negative school experiences, systemic racism, discrimination bullying or just a lack of appreciation for the cultural capital and cultural intelligence our Pacific students bring to school each day.

Focusing on equity and excellence

This Government is responding to these issues by focusing on equity and excellence in education as a priority for Pacific learners and their families. Some of the measures taken include:

  • The school donations replacement scheme, which has reduced schooling costs for around 447,000 students and their families
  • The move to replace deciles with an equity index
  • The Ka Ora Ka Ako healthy school lunches programme now reaching around 211,000 learners in 921 schools
  • Delivering the Developing Mathematical Communities of Inquiry programme to around 25 schools with high numbers of Pacific learners
  • Funding to improve the cultural capability of teachers of Pacific learners
  • Developing more bilingual resources for Pacific learners and communities.

Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-2030

  • The Government’s Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-30 is critical to the pursuit of equity and excellence in education for priority for Pacific learners and their families.
  • Central to this plan is that Pacific families are safe, valued and equipped to achieve their educational aspirations.
  • The Plan was designed and developed with our Pacific communities.
  • When we were engaging on this Plan, our communities told us they wanted to be partners in their children’s learning journeys, and that they wanted the Government to address issues of racism and discrimination in the education system. They also said that they wanted us to ensure that every teacher is the best teacher for Pacific learners and that we needed to increase the number of Pacific teachers and education leaders.
  • The Action Plan calls for five key education shifts in response to these issues. It states that we need to:
    • WORK reciprocally with Pacific communities to respond to their needs, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic
    • CONFRONT systemic racism and discrimination in education.
    • HELP every educator to take action to become culturally competent with diverse Pacific learners.
    • PARTNER with families to design education opportunities so aspirations for learning and employment can be met.
    • GROW, retain and value great Pacific educators and leaders.

Developing Pacific bilingual education

  • The Action Plan commits us to develop policy to support Pacific bilingual and immersion education. We know that being bilingual and bi-literate has long term positive effects for children, around both wellbeing and education
  • This means Pacific bilingual and immersion education is a key to Pacific learners succeeding as Pacific peoples within our education system.We want to come up with a model of Pacific bilingual and immersion education that works for families and communities and the education sector now and in the future.
  • So, we need to think about things like quality classroom practice and the funding and supports to make it happen. The success of this work depends on ensuring there are opportunities for key partners to contribute and be heard across the stages of the project.


  • We know that Pacific learners learn best when their languages, cultural capital, cultural intelligence and identity are respected, supported and celebrated in your school community and that they can see themselves and their place, in our schools and in our education system.
  • That is why we are focused on achieving equity and excellence throughout our education system and are making the changes that we are making, with your support and much needed guidance.
  • I will finish with a Samoan proverb or word of wisdom:

E afua mai mauga fa’amanuiaga a le nu’u – from the mountains flow the blessings unto the village. If the water is clean, the people  prosper, but when the waters become murky and dirty, the village becomes sick In our communities we have a ranking system, not only do we rank people, we rank animals too. And so, everyone is a mountain, every mountain has a purpose. You as principals will always be seen by many of our elders as mountains that must serve a purpose and that purpose is to ensure that your leadership improves and achieves the aspirations of the next generations.

Kia kaha everyone, thank you.