Candidate profile: Anne Tolley

  • Breaking
  • 20/10/2011

Anne Tolley has had a rough ride in her first term as Minister of Education, the Government's National Standards scheme proving unpopular with many of the country's schools.


Anne was born on March 1, 1953 in Napier.

Anne lives with her husband Allan in Gisborne. Between them they own several homes in Gisborne, Whakatane and Wellington.

She has three adult children and two grandchildren.

Before entering Parliament, Anne was a Hawke’s Bay regional councillor, Napier city councillor and then Napier Deputy Mayor for six years.

Career in politics:

First elected in 1999, Anne entered Parliament as a list MP. She had contested the Napier seat, but lost to Labour's Geoff Braybrooke.

She lost her spot in 2002 after again failing to win the Napier seat, and National's poor showing in the election that year meant she also didn't make it in on the list.

The setback was only temporary however, as in 2005 she was elected to represent the East Coast Bays electorate, which she kept in 2008 with an increased majority.

After National's victory in 2008, Anne was made Minister of Education – the first ever woman to hold the role. The majority of her first term in the role has seen her at odds with school principals over the introduction of National Standards into primary and intermediate schools.

In 2009, a survey showed a whopping 95 percent of principals were against the scheme, which went live in 2010. The fight between schools and the minister got so bitter, Prime Minister John Key relieved Anne of her Tertiary Education portfolio so she could devote more time to getting principals on board.

Two years after the National Standards were introduced, Anne still has a lot of work to do – it was recently reported over 400 school still refuse to implement them.

Notable actions:

Oversaw the introduction of National Standards

Controversially closed Aorangi School in Christchurch

Reduced funding for adult education night classes, at the same time increasing funding for private schools

Gaffes and blunders:

In 2010 Anne was criticised for an $1800 helicopter ride "to see how big Auckland is", according to the Dominion Post. Labour's Clayton Cosgrove offered to get her a map, but the offer was declined.

What you might not know:

Anne Tolley, the Minister of Education, doesn't have a tertiary qualification. But she does have a diploma in computer programming. "When you’re a minister, you have a governance role – you don’t need to have specialist knowledge of a particular area, you have specialist advisors."

In 2009, computer security firm McAfee ranked the phrase, "who is the minister of education" as the fourth-most dangerous term in New Zealand to search for on the internet, behind 'lyrics', 'bebo' and 'miniclip'. The term led to more virus-infected sites than searches for Amy Winehouse and TVNZ.

Disgraced MP Chris Carter said it was because no one knew who she was, a problem he wouldn't have for much longer.


"It's not easy making these sorts of decisions. But in an economic recession with a certain limited amount of money you do have to set some priorities." – On her education funding cuts – or reallocations, depending on who you ask.

In a sentence:

Anne Tolley's come under a firestorm of criticism from principals and the Opposition, but has so far stuck to her guns – and ranked #8 on National's list, her opponents won't be rid of her anytime soon.

source: newshub archive

Contact Newshub with your story tips: