Prime Minister John Key mounted a strong defence of
Education Minister Hekia Parata today in a speech during annual
Mr Key said that while there had been many calls to sack her,
he did not know of anyone who was more committed to Maori
He said earlier this week that Ms Parata had made mistakes
last year in her first year as Education Minister but she had
done a lot of things well and he had confidence in her.
Ms Parata was there, too, as part of the National Party
delegation being welcomed onto the Ratana marae.
She talked to reporters, the first time since the resignation
late last year of Education Secretary Lesley Longstone
following a breakdown in the relationship between the two
Ms Parata refused to discuss the resignation other than
saying she acknowledged Ms Longstone's service and wished her
But she admitted she had made mistakes.
"There were one or two mistakes that I need to learn from but
facing towards 2013 we have got a world class education
system but that needs attention and that's what I am focusing
She would not elaborate on what she considered her mistakes
to be, saying it was not her role to critique what had
But she said that she had clear expectations from Mr Key
"which I intend to meet".
She said she was focused on the Christchurch restructuring
plan, decisions on which are due to be announced in late
February. Last year she visited the 36 schools earmarked for
merger, closure, or relocation.
"I've reviewed all the submissions that came in over
Christmas and I'm considering the recommendations of those
She would be talking directly to the schools involved.
- Audrey Young and Claire Trevett of the New Zealand