Pasifika Education Plan: Monitoring Report 2010

Publication Details

This monitoring report provides a national and regional picture of how Pasifika learners are progressing as the Plan is implemented in schools and communities. It gives us an idea of what level of progress is needed to achieve the Plan’s goals and targets by 2012. Actions to improve outcomes in these identified areas are included in the Plan. The success of these actions will be assessed in this and subsequent monitoring reports to assess what we are doing to create an environment for Pasifika educational success.

Author(s): Ministry of Education.

Date Published: May 2012

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Executive Summary

Compass for Pasifika success

The compass for Pasifika success is a fundamental part of the Plan. It is a visual representation which helps to ensure that Pasifika learners are at the heart of efforts to increase Pasifika presence, engagement and achievement. It is vital that all parts of the education system work together to achieve the goals and targets of the Plan.

Pasifika people have multiple world views and diverse cultural identities. They are able to operate and negotiate successfully through spiritual, social, political, cultural and economic worlds. Success in education requires harnessing Pasifika diversity within an enabling education system that works for young people, their families and communities. This requires the education system, leadership and curricula to start with the Pasifika learner at the centre, drawing on strong cultures, identities and languages.

Pasifika demographics

Pasifika people make up approximately 6.9% of the total population with 266,000 people living in New Zealand in 2006. The growth of the Pasifika population continues to be a significant attribute to society in New Zealand. Having the highest growth rate of any ethnic group, with 38% of their population under the age of 15 years, the success of the Plan is vital in contributing to the education of this fast growing group of young New Zealanders.

Population in New Zealand

In the census of 2006, the Pasifika population was 265,974, an increase of 14.7% since 2001 compared to an increase of 7.4% for Māori and a decrease of 9.1% for the European population. The Pasifika population in New Zealand includes people of Pacific descent born in New Zealand and people born in the Pacific Islands. They include people of Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian, and Tokelauan ethnicity as well as some people from smaller island communities. Samoan is the largest Pasifika ethnicity and Tongan is the fastest growing ethnicity.

Fertility and Life Expectancy

In 2006, Pasifika had the highest fertility rate for an ethnic group, with an average 2.95 births for each woman in her lifetime, compared to 2.05 for the total population. On average, Pasifika mothers give birth at a younger age than Pākehā/European, Asian, and to the national population median childbearing age (27.66 years). Pasifika people still experience lower life expectancy and higher rates of mortality than the total population. At birth, Pasifika females and males have life expectancies of 76 and 70 years respectively, both of which are about four years lower than total population figures.

Age Structure

The structure of Pasifika peoples' age profile is such that it is profoundly disproportionate, with many younger people and very few elderly. In 2006, the median age of Pasifika was 21 years, compared to 36 years for the total population. With such a high proportion of the population in their youth, this only emphasises the importance of education to this fast growing population.


In 2006, just under two-thirds of Pasifika adults  were in the labour force. The percentage of Pasifika peoples in the labour force aged 15 to 64 years that were employed increased to 89% from 84% in 2001. Men continue to be more likely to be in the labour force than women, however, women in the labour force show greater diversity in occupation than men.


In 2006, the median annual income for Pasifika adults was $20,500, which is lower than the national median annual income of $24,400. Income levels are related to age and employment. As the Pasifika population has a large proportion of younger people, tending to have lower incomes of $5,000 or less, compared to people older in age, they more heavily contribute to the lower annual income. In 2006, Pasifika with an income of $20,001 or greater were more likely to be full-time employed.

Urban housing and living

Pasifika highly value and recognise relationships and family as being central within the Pasifika community. The importance of these values is reflected in the high proportion of Pasifika peoples who live in a family situation. Pasifika have a higher percentage of people living in a family situation, as well as people living in and extended family situation, compared to the total population. The average number of usual occupants for all households in which Pasifika people were living in 2001 was 5.4 compared with 3.5 for New Zealand as a whole.

The proportion of Pasifika living in housing owned by a member of their household has decreased from 51% in 1986 to 38% in 2001. The proportion of Pasifika living in rental housing increased from 49% in 1996 to 59% in 2001. Nationally in 2001, 29% of the population were living in rental housing.

There are Pasifika peoples throughout New Zealand; however they are concentrated in four main regions:  Auckland, Wellington, Waikato and Christchurch. The largest Pasifika populations are located in Manukau, Auckland Central, Waitakere and Porirua. Pasifika are vastly urbanised with 97% living in urban areas in 2006; 66% of all Pasifika people and 72% of all Pasifika students reside in Auckland.

Recent movements: 2010

In 2010 Pasifika learners showed marked improvement in many areas of education compared to nationwide general trends. Figure 1.1 shows a broad picture of where we are now in terms of the indicators, recent improvements and what improvement is required to reach the specific targets for the future.

Each spoke represents an indicator from this report. The target for each measure has been adjusted to equal 1.00 (the black outer line). Each of the coloured lines represents the position of the indicator against the 2012 target for an individual year. The dark blue line represents the position of the indicator based on the 2010 data. 2011 information, where available, is represented by the grey line. A value of less than 1.00 means that the target has yet to be reached, while a value equal to or greater than one means the target has been achieved.

The distance between the dark blue line and the outer line shows how much change is required to reach the target. The distance between the dark blue line and the other years shows how much change has occurred in the past for that target. These distances are proportionately identical for each indicator. The 'distance' still required to reach the target does not show the ease or likelihood of achieving the target. The lack of improvement or deterioration between 2009 and 2010 also indicates where change may be more difficult.

Improvements can be seen in all sectors, with two-thirds of targets forecast to be met in 2012:

Where we are: 2010

The following section provides a high level summary of the latest year's performance against the Plan. Data predominantly relates to 2010, however, more current 2011 data is used where available. A brief likelihood of the target being met is also provided.

Early childhood education

  • Participation in early childhood education has continued to improve. In 2011 there were 11,061 Pasifika children aged 2 to 4 years enrolled in licensed early childhood services. It is very likely that the target of 11,103 enrolments in 2012 will be met.
  • In 2010, the number of Pasifika children in early intervention services was 751. From recent trends it is forecasted that the number of children accessing these services will exceed the target of 813 in 2012.
  • The average age of a first referral to early intervention services in 2010 for a Pasifika child was 3 years, 7 months. This is a large increase from 2009, but consistent with the average age of first referral for non-Pasifika children. Forecasting suggests that the target to reduce average age of intervention to 3 years and 1 month will not be achieved.
  • The gap between registration status of Pasifika and non-Pasifika teachers is closing. In 2011 65.3% of Pasifika early childhood teachers were registered. It is forecasted that by 2012 registration of Pasifika early childhood education teachers will reach 72.4% falling just below target of 73%.
  • The number of registered Pasifika early childhood education teachers in 2011 was 1,120. With the increasing trend in registration of early childhood education teachers, it is forecast that the target of 1,208 registered Pasifika teachers in 2012 will be met.
Compulsory education
  • Eighty-seven percent of all 2010 Pasifika school leavers achieved the NCEA level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements. The forecast position for 2012 is that the target of 93% will be met.
  • Sixty-eight percent of all 2010 Pasifika school leavers achieved NCEA level 2 or above; the forecast position for 2012 is that the target of 75% will be met. This remains below that of non-Pasifika students.
  • The target of 30% of all Pasifika school leavers achieving a university entrance standard for 2012 has been met as of 2010. The forecasting position is that the proportion of students leaving school with university entrance will continue to increase to 35% by the end of 2012.
  • There has been a marked improvement in age-standardised suspension rates for Pasifika students; a 17.5% decrease from 8.0 to 6.6 per 1000 between 2009 and 2010. The forecast position for 2012 is that a reduction to 5.7 per 1000 will be met.
  • The age-standardised expulsion rate for Pasifika students in 2010 was 3.9 per 1000 students, a decrease of 20% since 2008.  The target of 1 expulsion per 1,000 Pasifika students is unlikely to be achieved by 2012.
  • Pasifika teachers continue to be under-represented in the school sector. Pasifika students make up 10% of state school rolls, yet only 2.7% of all state teachers identify as Pasifika.
  • Since 2008 there has been a 10% increase in the number of Pasifika teachers compared to 3% increase in non-Pasifika teachers. In 2011 there were 1393 Pasifika teachers. It is forecasted that the number of Pasifika teachers will fall just below target of 1,520 Pasifika teachers.
  • In 2011, only 32.9% of schools in which Pasifika representation on the schools board of trustees would be expected had such representation. It is unlikely that the forecast target of 100% of these schools having such representation will be met without suitable intervention.
Tertiary education
  • In 2010, the number of Pasifika people aged 18 to 24 years in level 4 qualifications and above increased to 26.9%. It is forecast that this participation rate for Pasifika students will exceed target of 27% in 2012.
  • Pasifika students aged 18 to 24 years who first enrolled in 2009, in 2010 had a first-year retention rate of 75.6%; exceeding the target for 2012 of 75%. Based on the recent trends for Pasifika students, it is forecast that the retention rate will rise continue to rise to 76.6% in 2012. A new target should focus on reducing the gap between Pasifika and non-Pasifika retention rates, which remains large and stable.
  • Of the Pasifika students aged 18 to 24 years who began a qualification at level four or above in 2005, 39.9% completed this qualification in 2010. It is estimated that the Pasifika five-year completion rate will increase to 40.2% in 2012 for those who started study in 2007. Initiatives are needed to meet the corresponding target of 43%.
  • In 2010, the participation rate in postgraduate study by Pasifika students was 0.71%. The target participation rate for Pasifika students in postgraduate study is one percent. By 2012 the rate is forecast to be 0.73%.
Whole of sector

The Ministry of Education is the lead Government agency for the Plan in partnership with the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and through strengthening relationships with other agencies, the resulting collaboration will be critical to the success of the Plan and Pasifika in education.

The Ministry of Education staff continue to develop their understanding of Pasifika which will ensure that the goals in the Plan are fully realised.

The Pasifika population in New Zealand is young and diverse.

"I believe in potential, and when that is based on strong identities, languages and cultures, alongside perseverance and discipline, all Pasifika learners will achieve," says Hon Hekia Parata, Minister of Education and Minister of Pacific Island Affairs.

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