The Prime Minister announced Hekia Parata as Minister of Education in the newly elected National Government, and today she was heard to say that she has experience in education from being a mother and an auntie. It may or may not be useful to realise that the term ‘Auntie’ can be applied to a wider range of women in a person’s life than just sisters of parents as is generally the case in European families. Any woman who assumes a role of care and guidance of a young person is not unusually referred to as ‘Auntie’. It would be uncharitable to suggest that not infrequently the child doesn’t even know anything more about their ‘Auntie’ than that they are looked after by them. My wife has even been called ‘Auntie’ by Maori pupils at schools I have been principal at! My wife has also mothered and successfully raised three children, she is an aunt to a large number of young family members, a great-aunt to more, and a ‘Nana’ to our 2 wonderful grandsons. Incidentally she has, as well, gained qualifications as a general teacher aide and in special needs education, and worked in these areas in schools for the past 25 odd years.
I would not consider my wife as being sufficiently qualified to manage an education portfolio or develop policy on something as important to our children and the nation.
Whether these qualifications have fully prepared the smiling Hekia Parata to be Minister Of Education is yet to be discovered.
Of course another indication of the value the National Government place on education can be gauged by the installation of John Banks as Associate Education Minister.