Boosting achievement of Pasifika - Priority 3

Te whakahiki tutukitanga mō Ngāi Pasifika

Last updated 11 November 2016
Last updated 11 November 2016

This page sets out the work we are doing to support Priority 3 of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) ­– Boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika.

Why do we need to do things differently

While the rate of transition from school to tertiary for Pasifika has been increasing, it is still below that of non-Māori and non-Pasifika.

In 2013, 64 percent of Pasifika transitioned from high school into tertiary study compared to 75 percent of non-Māori and non-Pasifika.  And of the Pasifika school leavers who attained NCEA level 3 in 2013, only 60 percent enrolled at degree level. In comparison, 79 percent of non-Māori and non-Pasifika school leavers with NCEA level 3 enrolled directly into degree level programmes.

Pasifika are significantly under-represented in fields of study that have very good employment outcomes and financial returns, such as ICT and Engineering. Yet, at the same time, they are often over-represented in fields that have poor labour-market returns (for example, level 1 and 2 qualifications in Office Administration and Business Management). This means ensuring education pathways for young Pasifika into successful careers is essential.

Increasing participation in levels and fields that present genuine work and life opportunities is crucial, but we also need to ensure that once there, Pasifika learners have the support and quality education to allow them to make the most of these opportunities. Success in study provides the means to greater employment opportunities and helps ensure the student’s and the Government’s investment in their study will generate tangible returns for the learner. 

Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017

The Pasifika Education Plan 2013–2017 is the Ministry of Education’s plan for supporting the achievement of Pasifika learners. It puts Pasifika learners, their parents, families and communities at the centre of the education system, where they can demand better outcomes. Pasifika are beginning to see real gains in tertiary education participation and achievement, but more progress is needed.

Pasifika Education Plan 2013–2017 (Ministry of Education website)

The Plan:

  • sets a target of Pasifika students participating and achieving at all levels on a par with other students in tertiary education
  • puts Pasifika learners, their parents, families and communities at the centre of the education system, where they can demand better outcomes. 

Pasifika Education Plan’s tertiary education targets

The Pasifika Education Plan is part of achieving the Government’s goal of creating the conditions for strong, vibrant and successful Pasifika communities that can help to build a more productive and competitive economy for all New Zealanders.

Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) need to better support Pasifika students to move into tertiary education (including from school), progress to higher levels of study, and complete the qualifications that they start.

In 2015, we worked with the Ministry of Education on the mid-term review of the Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017. The review found the most significant achievement shifts for Pasifika learners had been against the Government’s three education Better Public Service targets:

  • Result 2: Increase participation in early childhood education
  • Result 5: Increase the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA level 2 or equivalent qualification
  • Result 6: Increase the proportion of 25-34 year olds with advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees (at level 4 or above)

Our work to lift the achievement of Pasifika

Our Pasifika Operational Strategy 2017–2020

Our Pasifika Operational Strategy is our new action plan to ensure more Pasifika learners succeed in tertiary education. This replaces the TEC Pasifika Framework 2013–2017.

Download the Pasifika Operational Strategy 2017–2020 (PDF, 302 Kb) 

We now have greater access to data and a suite of new information products that are changing the way we work. We are also seeing innovative evidence-driven approaches to improving learner outcomes. These changes provide opportunities for further gains and therefore we have a refreshed approach to delivering Pasifika learner success.

We worked with Pasifika communities, schools, TEOs and government agencies to develop the Pasifika Operational Strategy. Based on our consultations with these stakeholders, we identified key actions and activities across three critical focus areas to address the key barriers impeding Pasifika success in tertiary education. The critical focus areas are:

  • Focus Area One: Using information to increase transitions into higher levels of education and into employment.
  • Focus Area Two: Changing the ways TEOs support Pasifika learners.
  • Focus Area Three: Strengthening the role of the community to increase system capability.

The long-term goal is parity of participation and achievement with non-Māori and non-Pasifika at all levels of study.

What we would like to know about from TEOs

We want to engage with TEOs and other key stakeholders on improving Pasifika tertiary outcomes in addition to the business-as-usual discussions. This is all about supporting greater Pasifika learner success by:

  • connecting with Pasifika communities, schools, tertiary, government and employment sectors to gather and share information and insights
  • developing a better system understanding so we can focus on what works
  • applying the knowledge, feedback and insights to the development of approaches for improving Pasifika learner outcomes, and 
  • targeting and growing our investments in programmes that deliver real success for Pasifika.

We would like to hear from TEOs about:

  • any evidence-based initiatives that have been proven successful for Pasifika
  • how to build strong external stakeholder and community partnerships, and
  • evidence of effective outreach and mentoring initiatives for Pasifika learners.


Investment Plan guidance

In 2016, we developed guidance in consultation with the sector to provide clarity around what is expected of TEOs in achieving Priority 3 of the Tertiary Education Strategy – Boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika.

The guidance will allow you to self-evaluate and promote more focused conversations with us on how Priority 3 can be achieved through Investment Plans.

Download the guidance:

Guidance to achieve TES Priority 3: Boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika (PDF, 1 Mb)

Find out more on the Supplementary Plan Guidance page.

Our funding initiatives

Our Māori and Pasifika Trades Training programme (MPTT) models a new approach to providing recruitment, pastoral care and mentoring support to learners through formalised partnerships with Pasifika church and community leaders.

MPTT supports Maori and Pasifika learners aged 16-40 to get the skills they need to complete New Zealand Apprenticeships and go on to employment.

Training is delivered through regional consortia that deliver a wide range of trades such as construction, carpentry, electrical, motor industry and engineering. Consortia bring together employers, community groups and tertiary education organisations to ensure that learners are equipped with skills which meet the needs of their communities and local economy.

In 2014, the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training programme supported 1,189 learners and 12 consortia. Some of the first graduates from 2014 have already transitioned into employment and New Zealand Apprenticeships.

In 2015, we have increased investment in this area to fund the delivery of 1,908 learners through 14 consortia.

Visit the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training section.