Hekia Parata happy with her achievements as Education Minister
Outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata says it's up to schools and parents to grade her five years in the role.
Speaking to The Nation on Saturday morning, Ms Parata said while there's a long way to go to get Māori and Pasifika achievement up with their peers, great strides have been made of late.
"We've only been in Government eight years," she told host Lisa Owen.
"What we inherited as a legacy was less than one in two Māori leaving with the minimum qualification. We now have three in four."
And despite criticism funding hasn't kept pace with growing rolls, Ms Parata says the past eight years have seen marked improvements across the board.
"We've got more people involved in early childhood education, staying longer at school, less stand-downs and exclusions, and leaving with better prospects."
But much of the improvement for Māori and Pasifika has come in achieving unit standards aimed at trades qualifications.
Owen put it to the minister Māori and Pasifika students were studying NCEA level 2 science at only half the rate of their Asian peers. Ms Parata disagreed, but said New Zealand needed more people going into the trades anyway.
"We need more people becoming automotive engineers, becoming plumbers, becoming electricians. The skills-based approach is not somehow inferior to going to university," said Ms Parata, playing down the influence she has on what courses students take.
"It's not me as the Minister of Education who chooses the credits and the subjects students take."
But if it means more Māori and Pasifika students are able to leave school with the necessary qualifications to succeed in the workplace, that's what really matters to her.
"Māori and Pasifika are now much more in the mainstream of acquiring qualifications, leaving with better possibilities for their futures."
Watch the full interview with Hekia Parata from The Nation.