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National Party leader Christopher Luxon has spoken to media after visiting Christchurch Boys' High School.
Watch Christopher Luxon speaking here:
Luxon said it was great being back in Christchurch where he had grown up.
"Today was really about getting out and about and meetings principals and senior leadership teams in a number of schools and trying to understand what's working well in our systems and what's not working well. And what's the improvement we need to make going forward."
Luxon was accompanied on his visit by newly-appointed education spokesperson for the National Party Erica Stanford.
Christchurch Boys' High School is Luxon's old school. "I fundamentally believe that education is the game change that we need to make here in New Zealand in order to set our economy up, in order to set our society up and make sure that our country over the next 30 years can go out and do well," he said.
He said it was a privilege to be back at his old school and wonder around chatting to principal Nick Hill and pupils there.
"I had a great experience here and it set me up incredibly well to go out into the world to build a career. But I want that success for every New Zealander as well."
But he said the quality of maths, reading and science had slipped significantly, which limited the country's competitiveness in the global market.
He said programmes like structured literacy was an good evidence-based method of improving reading skills and preparing pupils to enter secondary schools.
"There's good research out there, we know what works and we just need to put the programmes together. Get kids to school and fundamentally raise the quality of our curriculum," he said.
"We need to make sure we measure the progress of our kids so that we can get to those who are falling through the cracks and to also support teachers."
He said today's trip to Christchurch was an important signal that education would be a really big focus for the National Party under his leadership, Luxon said.
He said the party needed to talk to different communities and understand the issues important to them. One issue pertinent to everyone would be how do can we generate higher incomes, he added.
"New Zealanders are some of the hardest working people on planet Earth but for the last 30 years we haven't been able to generate enough income in our salaries and wages."
He said that was a big economic challenge, and part of that involved improving infrastructure, education and encouraging small businesses to success in enterprise.
Luxon said it wasn't just his party's job to oppose the government, but also propose ideas.
"So, that's the job. Be relevant and talk about things and develop policies and plans about things that matter most to New Zealanders."
Luxon also reiterated his position that there was no need for a hard border around Auckland.
He said Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield had stated that there was no health reasons for it, with Auckland having well over 90 percent double vaccination rates.
Luxon said his issue with the government's Covid-19 traffic light system was the inconsistency in the way it was being applied.
"The fundamental thing is, if your region is in red then it's because the hospital system is overwhelmed. Well by her [Adern's] own admission it's not overwhelmed and there's very high levels of vaccination rates. When you go to orange the system is supposed to be under pressure. So, what is the criteria by which we're making these decisions, because people need clarity."