5. Parents, Families and Communities

What We Have Found

Active participation by Pasifika in planning, development and delivery of education services will help to ensure that those services are appropriate and effective for Pasifika students. Pasifika representation on boards of trustees is one key mechanism for participation.

In 2014, 40.5% of schools with sufficient numbers of Pasifika students to expect Pasifika representation on the schools' board of trustees had such representation.  This was an improvement on the same measure for 2013, though is still far off the target of 100% in 2017.In 2012, ERO reported on how well schools are engaging with Pasifika students, parents and communities. Overall, the results were disappointing with few schools exhibiting effective engagement or improvements on previous assessments.

What we are trying to achieve

The focus is on more informed and demanding parents, families and communities supporting and championing their children's learning and achievement. To achieve this, the following two goals have been set:

  1. Pasifika parents, families and communities support and champion their children's learning and achievements.
  2. Pasifika parents, families and communities are better informed, more knowledgeable and demanding consumers of education services.


As a means of measuring progress against the aforementioned goals, the following targets have been set:

  • „ Increase Pasifika participation on schools boards of trustees to be proportionate to the number of Pasifika students at the school.
  • Increase the proportion of ECE services and schools identified by ERO as successfully engaging with their Pasifika parents, families and communities.

Why This Is Important

Beginning in ECE, the one constant for most children throughout their education campaign is their family. Research shows that families and communities play a large role in determining the outcomes for children.Families with high educational expectations, homes with positive learning environments and communities with accessible community institutions and social agencies all play a role in lifting educational outcomes and achievements.

How We Are Going

Pasifika representation on the boards of trustees

Since 2009, the proportion of schools that achieved the criteria for adequate representation on their boards of trustees (the Boards) has increased by 10.8 percentage points.

This analysis is based on schools with sufficient Pasifika students on the roll to expect Pasifika representation on the board. This expectation is based on both the relative size of the Pasifika roll and the number of available positions on the Board.  It also recognises that board representation must be a whole person, not a proportion of a person (see the technical notes for a detailed explanation).

The target for Pasifika Board representation in the PEP is calculated on "Pasifika participation on School Boards of Trustees to be proportionate to the number of Pasifika students at the school". As at 1 December 2014, only 40.5% of schools with sufficient numbers of Pasifika students to expect Pasifika representation on the schools' boards of trustees had such representation. The forecast falls well short of the target of 100%.

Interventions and policy changes must be looked at and be actively affecting these applicable schools, raising their awareness of the need to increase Pasifika representation. It is important that the Pasifika students have a voice on their Boards and are fairly and not under-represented, considering their roll size at a school.

Information on what we are doing to increase Pasifika participation on boards of trustees, see page 60.

Figure 5.1: Proportion of schools with adequate Pasifika representation on their boards of trustees (2009-2014)

Note: Proiritised ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes in appendix 2.

Engaging Pasifika students, parents, families and communities

As part of its regular visits and assessments, ERO has collected information on how well schools are engaging with Pasifika students, parents, families and communities.

In 2012, ERO reported on evidence gathered over 2010-2011 based on observations, engaging with key stakeholders and formal and informal conversations with parents and students

The overarching evaluation question ERO asked was: What does the school know about Pasifika student achievement since the last ERO review? Answers were sought through six investigative questions about the extent to which there had been improvements in:

  • Pasifika student presence at school
  • Pasifika student engagement with learning
  • the board of trustees' knowledge and understanding of Pasifika issues
  • the school's engagement with its Pasifika community
  • student achievement in literacy and numeracy
  • the quality of the school's achievement information for Pasifika students.

The report is based on a sample of 302 schools situated throughout New Zealand from a range of deciles and roll sizes. The report findings include:

  • Few schools incorporated Pasifika themes into their curriculum and/or had initiatives in place to support engagement of Pasifika students.
  • In just eight schools a Pasifika focus was evident within the schools' charters.
  • The majority of schools did not have specific initiatives in place for engaging with Pasifika parents and communities.

Overall, the findings reported by ERO were disappointing, however, a few schools have made strong progress. In conclusion, schools proving to be effectively engaging with Pasifika students, parents and communities have displayed the following five key factors:

  1. Setting achievement targets for Pasifika learners.
  2. Supporting teachers to engage culturally with Pasifika learners.
  3. Monitoring student achievement.
  4. Mentoring individual students.
  5. Actively engaging with parents and communities.

In 2013, ERO released a report that evaluated 25 secondary schools with high Pasifika rolls. All but one of these schools were located in Auckland and consisted of approximately half of all secondary Pasifika students in New Zealand. 

This report builds on the five key factors identified in the 2012 report and answers the following evaluative questions:

  • To what extent is the presence of the five key factors related to positive achievement for Pasifika learners?
  • What other features are characteristic of those schools that demonstrate success in achieving positive academic outcomes for Pasifika learners?

Through an evaluation of past ERO reports, charter documents and other achievement information, ERO found that five of these schools had Pasifika learners achieving at or close to national norms.

The findings within the report confirmed the relationship between the five key factors and achieving educational success. In many of the schools where Pasifika achievement was low, the five key factors were deemed to not be working correctly or one or more needed strengthening.

What Are We Doing?

Increasing Pasifika Participation on Boards of Trustees

The Government has undertaken the following initiatives to support an increase in Pasifika communities participating in school Board of Trustees:

  • Effective Governance – Supporting Pasifika Success is a resource that has been developed by Pasifika trustees to enable Boards to be capable of being responsive to Pasifika communities. It is part of New Zealand School Trustees Association's (NZSTA) family of resources around effective governance.
  • Information pamphlets available in Samoan, Tongan, and Tokelauan to increase awareness, with the aim of increasing the number of Pasifika on Boards. (This was the first time the Ministry had published Board elections material in Pasifika languages.)
  • The NZSTA contract has been strengthened with an outcome for Boards to reflect the community they serve through their governance structure reflecting the school community.

The Ministry will continue working with NZSTA to increase Pasifika Community Participation by:

  • Investigating targeting schools to encourage co-option as an opportunity to increase diverse perspectives to the Board of Trustees.
  • Using succession planning to encourage Board of Trustees to target Pasifika parents groups in schools:
    • to promote the Board's role and responsibilities
    • to identify possible candidates and Pasifika champions.

Case study

Pasifika PowerUp

Naomi Tausi is a mum on a mission: To instill a high work ethic and encourage education and learning in her children.

The mother of five, who also has two nieces and two nephews living in her home, says parents have a responsibility to encourage and support their children to succeed in education and, through Power Up, they can become equipped with the tools to do so.

"At each session parents learn how to help themselves," shares Naomi. "We learn about how to manage our children's timetables and scheduling homework and assignment time according to their workload. As parents, we should know when assignments are due and their routine.  These simple things can have big effects on our children's education."

"Power Up is there to support our children to learn and study but it is not a place for you to just drop your kids at the door and come back at the end," she adds. "The idea is that if the kids stay, you should too. Not only do you become a good example for your children to follow, but you are also becoming more educated and empowered yourself.

"Each session is 2hours and parents discuss a lot of really good points and helpful hints during that time. Different parents speak Pacific languages too, so if a family is finding it hard to understand, we can share our knowledge with each other in our own languages. It's a safe place where parents can ask questions, no matter how silly you might think your question is."

Other advice Naomi has for parents,  is to keep in regular contact with your children's teachers.  "All of my children's teachers have my email address and I have theirs. I set this system up by having an appointment with the Dean and asking him to pass on the information on my behalf. If ever my children are having problems in class with their learning, or they're late with work or assignments, their teachers can contact me straight away and let me know so we can get on top of it. If my child is behind I can contact the teacher directly and ask for ways in which we can work together to support them. Maybe even ask for extra teaching time or extensions to help them achieve their internal credits. It is my responsibility as a parent to help my child and this is one way that has been successful."

Since her family's involvement in Power Up and her proactive approach to their education, Naomi has seen a number of differences in her children.

The kids have credited Power Up for giving them confidence and for producing a positive learning environment. Paired with specialist support from teachers and mentors, their grades are at a good and consistent level and they are starting to look towards their future pathways.

Christchurch mum Makerita Tiatia has seen similar results in her kids. With seven children in the house, the youngest at intermediate school, Power Up has had a flow on effect from the eldest to the youngest child.

"My kids were really capable students in Samoa but when we moved to New Zealand in 2010, education became a bit more of a challenge," says Makerita, "especially for the two youngest who had to move to a school where 100 percent of their learning was now done in English."

"They had to attend an ESOL class to help improve their language skills and try to catch up to other students at their level.  I had been looking for an opportunity to help my children navigate the education system here and, when we found out about Power Up through talk back radio, we knew it was perfect for our situation."

Attending the weekly classes immediately built up the students' confidence, they were no longer afraid to ask questions or ask their teachers for help. It has improved their study skills, their time management and helped improve their grades.

"My 16-year-old daughter was struggling in Science," shares Makerita. "But she received specialist science help at Power Up and at the end of 2014 she finished the class with a really good mark."

Makerita has also highly benefited from the programme.  The parent programmes sometimes include computer lessons so parents can learn to use software, search the web, and understand how to access their child's results online.  "Power Up isn't just where kids learn new things, but where parents are constantly learning too," she says."I've always had a yearning for my children to enjoy education as much as I have and now, this is now the case," she shares.


  1. Education Review Office. (2012). Improving Education Outcomes for Pasifika Learners. Wellington: Education Review Office.
  2. Education Review Office. (2013). Making Connections for Pacific Learner's Success. Wellington: Education Review Office