Brian Edwards Media

When Hekia met Rachel – a sometime interviewer’s perspective.


I haven’t been blogging for the past ten days or so because I fractured a bone in my left hand and can’t type. It still hurts like hell but I’ve been drawn out of this enforced temporary retirement by my irritation over the attempts by the Right, led by National Party clown Tau Henare and assorted hangers-on in the blogosphere,  to make political capital out of two questions put to Education Minister Hekia Parata by my colleague on The Nation, Rachel Smalley.

I need to start by making one thing perfectly clear: I have not spoken to Smalley about this, nor have I informed TV3 Head of News and Current Affairs, Mark Jennings,  or The Nation’s producer, Richard Harman, of my intention to blog about the rights and wrongs of this issue.

I watched the Parata interview in the ‘green room’ at TV3 as it was being recorded and was hugely impressed by the Minister’s performance. When she returned to the green room to collect her belongings I said to her, “That was absolutely brilliant”. She smiled, thanked me and showed absolutely no sign of having been upset by Rachel’s question-line.

I had a similar conversation in the green room today with Judith Collins, who’d also faced some tough questioning from Rachel. “You are,” I said, “the consummate performer.” 

It’s hardly a secret that my personal politics are to the far left. But I also have a 45-year provenance as an interviewer and media trainer and I’m happy to recognise talent in any interviewee, regardless of their politics. Parata and Collins are among the best performers in long-form television interviews in the country . They know how to handle themselves and that’s highly relevant to this debate.

In considering any question an interviewer asks, you have to take into account three or perhaps four things: the context of the question; the tone of the question; the status of the interviewee; and the capacity of the interviewee to handle the question.

The context of Smalley’s “How Maori are you?” question was Parata’s childhood and upbringing in a Maori family and Maori community. It produced a revealing response from the Minister that was highly relevant to the origins of her philosophy as a member of the National Party and later as Minister of Education.

The tone of the question and later of “Are you a bit of a bitch to work for?” was neither hectoring nor offensive. It was light and good humoured.  Had it been put by a male interviewer, the effect might have been quite different.

And the question was justified. The standoff between the Minister and her Head of Department, Lesley Longstone, had been widely referred to in the media before Ms Longstone’s departure, as had the question of  whether the Minister was difficult to work with.

As to the interviewee’s status, Ms Parata is Minister of Education in the National Party Government. She has responsibility for the present and future education of the nation’s children. That status requires her to be answerable to the electorate, primarily through the media, for her actions and record in office.

Finally, has she the capacity to stand up to media scrutiny, to look after herself in probing media interviews? Well, if the interview with Smalley is anything to go by, the answer to that has got be a resounding Yes.

So it is unsurprising that she herself has not formally complained about the interview and has no intention of doing so. She was, she said, “happy to answer any questions put to me.” That does her great credit.

In a supreme irony, the real offence to Hekia Parata has been given by Tau Henare, other culturally precious MPs and the macho blogosphere of the Right, who clearly feel that this poor little girl, so “easy on the eye”, as Maori role-model Shane Jones put it, needs some great big men to defend her. She doesn’t.

Nor does Rachel Smalley need defending by me. She is without doubt the finest long-form interviewer in the country, including the illustrious Kim Hill.

And now it would a good idea if everyone concerned stopped twittering about nothing and, as I’m told they say in that idiots’ forum, STFU.

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  1. Leaving aside the despicable bully Tau Henare and his absurd assertions, watching that interview leaves me with increased respect for Hekia Parata, and a diminished opinion of Rachel Smalley – whose interrupting, hectoring approach I don’t like at all.

    • ‘interrupting, hectoring’? Have we been watching the same interviewer? Are you familiar with Duncan Garner, Guyon Espiner, Susan Wood, Mary Wilson, Larry Williams, Kim Hill, Sean Plunkett or the late lamented Shane Taruima. to name but eight?

      • Would hardly consider Susan Wood part of the eight Brian – Susan could never string a coherent sentence together on the Holmes Show

      • 1.1.2

        Yes, I am familiar with all of them – and don’t have much respect for any of them. NZ has a real dearth of decent interviewers; the standard is very low, and we are not well served. I can only think that there is something amiss with the selection process.

        • That’s certainly not true. We have some excellent interviewers, including Garner, Espiner, Wood, Wilson, Hill, Plunkett and quite a few others. My long- standing criticism of many of them has been their confusion of hectoring and interruption with effective questioning.

      • Well said Brian.

  2. I also found interview entertaining and illuminating. Agree reaction seemed a bit overwrought. And my initial feeling was that gripes was much ado about nothing. Initially.
    But I think phrasing has different context for non-Maori tjthan it does for Maori and non white people,
    Those I talked to friends and family thought the phrasing implied 60s- 70s view “what sort of maori are you?”
    People with scant regard for with Maori protocol commented the term was “taking liberties” and “who the hell do they think they are.”
    Over sensitive? – maybe. But that is their view.
    Maybe The Nation producers assumed a familiarity with her and Maori that did not seem to be acknowledged.
    Should Nation producers have phrased differently.
    They can do what they like. Broadcasters don’t need to be popular with guests.

    • I think you make an interesting point. But should interviewers cater for Maori sensibilities more than Pakeha sensibilities? That would set a quite dangerous precedent. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is in this context. The Irish are constantly insulted by comments about their supposed lack of intelligence. It’s racist. If an interviewer wants to ask me, ‘Why are you Irish so bloody stupid?’ I’ll happily answer the question. I’m not going to go bleating to Susan Devoy or the BSA. That’s because I’m confident in who I am. And so, clearly, is Hekia Parara. I also know it’s nonsense. Taking offence is generally a sign of insecurity.

      • Are the Irish a race, or a people?

        • A people, primarily Caucasian. But ‘race’ and ‘people’ are now virtually synonymous.

          • Peoplist, then, p’raps. And I agree – taking offence is a sign of insecurity. When you presume you’re being citicised, blame anyone you can.

      • I’ve sometimes felt that Irish jokes are in a class of their own as they often seem to be a celebration of uniquely Irish logic rather than a put-down. One can’t deny that the Irish, in general, are pretty quick-witted.

      • You realise that’s called privilege, right Brian? In other words, despite the anti-Irish racist comments, you’re a part of a group that generally benefits from stereotypes and access to social opportunities ( ie you’re an educated, white, middle (at least) class, older male)

  3. The ultimate telling point above the blinding professionalism of all involved, is whether the viewer/voter will perceive both Parata and Collins, as having the necessary degree of ‘empathy’ required for balanced social leadership. I find this degree of knifelike professional execution in a politician now evokes in myself a serious level of distrust, so I have to wonder whether it serves both these female politicians in time such as these. Wisdom and aggression seldom lie together, in either gender.

  4. Isn’t it unfair that daughters can get away with that kind of questioning and sons can’t. It s almost as if female MP’s must be interviewed by female interviewers (asking sexist questions) and male MP’s must be interviewed by male interviewers (asking sexist questions) in order to get to the actual truth. Doesn’t one rule for one gender and one for another make a mockery of journalism’s supposedly non partisan stance?

    • This is one of the most thought-provoking comments I’ve read. And I’m inclined to the view that you’re right. But the problem isn’t with the interviewers, but with gender- and role-stereotyping by society at large.

      • 4.1.1

        I think it’s even more general than that. Just as Nixon and Reagan could do deals with the communists when Johnson and Carter couldn’t, when your “own kind” is attacking your beliefs or position you have nowhere else to go for support.

        • Alan, could you expand on the above please? I am very interested in your reasoning that made you arrive at this conclusion.


            It’s simple politics, johan. If the Left makes concessions to the Left it will be ferociously attacked from the Right. But if the Right makes those same concessions it will get only muted attacks since most of its supporters know they are never going to support the opposition, the Left.

            Likewise if the Left attacks some of its own they will be isolated and get no support from elsewhere. Whereas if the Right attacked them the entire Left would be up in arms.

            Exactly the same if a male interviewer attacks a female subject or vice versa.

          • Following on with other examples in New Zealand politics: –

            Only Labour in 1984 to 1990 (and no, I don’t want to get into a debate about whether they were truly ‘Labour”) could have ever begun the process of dismantling the sheltered/fortress economy bequeathed by the first Labour government. Compare the comparative speed, and acceptance of “there is no alternative” with Margaret Thatcher tackling her ideological opponents head-on from 1979 onwards.

            The reason it works is because sufficient numbers of the substantial middle ground (who are not politically alligned, and are more capable of judging a policy on its merits than die-hard and emotionally-invested partisans) are sufficiently attracted to the resulting paradigm change, so it quickly becomes the new consensus.

            I think it counts as a form of “triangulation”.

          • The theory I get, but your Nixon/Reagan and Johnson/Carter dealings with China, has not only to do with belonging to different parties. What were the real reasons why a capitalist country like the USA would SAFELY want to invest multi-billions of dollars into a communist country?


            That’s a whole different subject, johan, and we’d have to hijack this blog to do it any justice.

  5. “The values of the National Party are what I stand for”

    Enough said.

  6. 6

    I read that Smalley was uncomfortable with those two questions she was told to ask. Why?

    • Perhaps because she rightly anticipated reaction from various quarters.

      • 6.1.1

        It is quite amusing to see the Right (if that is the right description for Henare and Jones) adopting the PC outrage of the Left on this little storm in a teacup.

        Vaguely on the same topic: “my personal politics are to the far left”. I’m unconvinced. Left yes; far left – I don’t think so. You have far too much life experience running your own business and making your own path for that blinkered and limiting ideology.

        • “It is quite amusing to see the Right (if that is the right description for Henare and Jones) adopting the PC outrage of the Left on this little storm in a teacup”.

          Isn’t pretty, is it? I’ve long thought it is a regrettable habit picked up from the rabid (as oppossed to the considered) American right wing.

          Listen to Fox (if you must) or dip into the ‘musings’ of an Ann Coulter, and 80% of their schtick is the adoption of a reversed hegemony – “the liberals/left are misusing and abusing their power to disenfranchise and cheat conservatives”.

      • Hmmm. That seems to me like an attempt to avoid responsibility. Smalley had absolute control over the situation courtesy of what she did or didn’t ask. If she truly is a fearless broadcasting professional (and I don’t doubt she is), I would have thought attracting a critic like Tau Henare (second only to the loathsome Trevor Mallard as the most odious politician in current circulation) would usually count it as an indication Smalley was doing her job well, which would be the cause for no discomfort.

        I agree Parata handled the question with deft aplomb.

        Nevertheless, I don’t know exactly why, but there is something wrong with the question. Parata IS Maori beyond dispute, and will always be Maori courtesy of whakapapa and because she considers herself Maori – which thankfully is what both Maori and the law considers the criteria. No one wants the bad old days when Maori were excluded from All Black tours to South Africa because they were 1/3 instead of 1/8 tangata whenua.

        There is something smug, patronising, and dare I say it, smacking of colonial hegemony for non-Maori to presume that a Maori is somehow deficient, or not living up to the expected stereotype. Maori may predominantly, since Ratana, vote according to certain patterns. However, Maori, like all people and cultures, are dynamic, full of strong personalities with minds and wills of their own. Who the hell has the right to question that?!

        There may well be something in your suggestion that the problem resides in “gender- and role-stereotyping by society at large.”

        However, consider the following: –

        “How much of a New Zealander are you?”

        …is one that can be rightly asked of Russell Norman and maybe Pansy Wong….but not of Sir Anand Satyanand.

        “Have you been abusing your government expense account?”

        …can be asked of Rodney Hide and Tuku Morgan…but apparently not of Chris Carter – or at least not in isolation from other MPs.

        And for some reason it is ok to ask the following: –

        “How can you manage the interests of beneficiaries when you’ve never been a beneficiary or lived in precarious social circumstances yourself”

        …of Jenny Shipley, Katherine O’Regan, and Ruth Richardson

        ,whereas others considered it a dirty political trick to ask:

        “How can you really understand the needs of families when you don’t have children of your own?”

        …of another powerful, ambitious, and capable female politician.

        Also, good to see the ghost of BE finally re-assume corporeal form, but my sympathies that opens you up to physical affliction. Does this count as evidence for the doctrine of the resurrection?

        • A little long winded,Kimbo???? Conclusion, you really like Trish!

          • Dunno johan, but at least I’m trying to keep on-topic, avoid the red-herrings (note how I dodged the off-topic post of my good friend, Kat. It was hard, but I’m learning), and am trying to tease out the discussion.

            Tell you what, johan, why don’t you disabuse my suspicion that you are a troll, and have a go at telling me if the questions I’ve posed are fair or not?

            On reflecting a bit more on BE’s advice, “In considering any question an interviewer asks, you have to take into account three or perhaps four things: the context of the question; the tone of the question; the status of the interviewee; and the capacity of the interviewee to handle the question”…

            I reckon it would be invalid question to Satyanand’s commitment to NZ because of

            …context (the ridiculous Paul Henry implication that a born-and-bred and eminently capable New Zealander wasn’t a ‘real’ Kiwi or a suitable GG, irrespective of the fact Stayanand was chosen in-part because of his ethnicity),

            …and the capacity of the interviewee to handle the question (protocol asserts that the GG remains separate from controversy and partisan and political debate. In ‘ordinary life’ I have no doubt Satyanand could have answered the question outstandingly).

        • I just think that you are all over the place Kimbo in your analysis of Smalley. Apparently, the tough questions were the making of the producer (not Smalley) of The Nation, and meant to try and put Ms Parata on the back foot. There is nothing wrong with the question, it does not require an answer, instead the question was meant to evoke an emotional response. BE may want to comment since he is more familiar in the media trade than myself.

          • “There is nothing wrong with the question, it does not require an answer, instead the question was meant to evoke an emotional response”.

            An emotional response from whom? Parata?! If so, then I call “foul” because the purpose of an ethical interviewer is to pose questions the political interviewee should answer, because the answers are in the public interest – not fending off rhetorical variations of “have you stopped beating your wife?”.

            It doesn’t mean there can’t be tough questions – such as that asked of Parata re the National Party’s stance on Maori seats.

            Nothwithstanding that Parata demonstrated her capability and mettle when she defused the issue of whether she was Maori or not – just as Clark did re not having children, and Chris Carter didn’t over the issue of his expenses –

            …nevertheless if THAT is your reason for why it was a legitimate question, then you’ve reinforced my initial opinion as to why it was not.

  7. Hey Brian

    Totally agree re Rachel Smalley. Hope the hand gets better and that you and Judy get a chance to see Anne Boleyn.

    Best wishes


    • That would be nice, Simon. I’ve read a couple of books about this fascinating woman and her sister, ‘the other Boleyn girl’.

      The hand will have to get better though. Can’t applaud at the moment.



      • “The hand will have to get better though. Can’t applaud at the moment.”

        Start shouting BRAVO!!!!

  8. Interesting. Rachel is second to Kim Hill though (By quite a long way I would have thought)

    • I find it difficult to directly compare Kim Hill with Rachel Smalley. Kim is from a different generation, more the consummate broadcaster and has a long distinguished career as a local and international radio personality. Kim has certainly breathed life into Morning Report the last few weeks.

      Although Rachel and Kim clearly have unique styles of their own, when interviewing they do seem to produce similar results. Both have a high command of the English language and are able to cleverly elicit very revealing responses from the interviewee.

  9. I agree with Paul. Kim Hill knows her stuff, Rachel Smalley is a parrot for someone else’s questions (by the sounds of it).

    • I think you need to understand the business before making comments like that. Every interviewer will discuss their question line with the programme producer and probably the researcher before a major interview. Each will have an input and make suggestions. It’s a collaborative profession.

      No interviewer could just “parrot” questions they’d been given. The primary interviewing skill is listening. Each question is determined by the subject’s previous answer/s. The direction of the interview is necessarily fluid. It cannot be fully determined in advance.

      In sum, your comment is nonsense based on ignorance.

      • I think you’d enjoy the critically acclaimed Danish TV drama “Borgen”, available on DVD from boutique video shops (don’t know if you have an equivalent to Aro St Video in Auckland). Basically it explores the world of politicians, their media advisors/spin doctors, investigative TV journalists/interviewers and their stressed out producers, etc. etc. Sometimes the TV journalist goes rogue with the producer desperately trying to rein her in on air then dressing her down off air. I suppose it’s possible that it would entertain a layman like myself but seem naive or ridiculous to a real insider like your good self.

      • I am ignorant, television/radio interviewing is not my business *but* if an interviewer has a question that they don’t want to ask but asks it anyway than they are a parrot.

        Any question they ask that they do not agree with should be referenced back to the person who wrote the question. I should to be able to trust the person asking the questions – how can I do that if I don’t know where the questions are coming from?

        No wonder so many interviews are travesties, how can the interviewer make any sense of the response to a question when they don’t feel any responsibility for the question itself.

        • Well, that’s an interesting point. And my reply to your comment was unduly unkind. Sorry. Blame it on grouchiness due to an aching little finger.

      • 9.1.3

        Kim Hills interview with John Key on RNZ this morning. Towards the end of this interview Kim Hill has John Key on the ropes…not an easy thing to achieve. Hill’s experience I think provides her with the confidence to ask questions in a way that less experienced interviewers simply wouldn’t have the courage to do.

        John Campbells interview of Winston Peters on C Live tonight was also one of the best interviews of Winston that I have seen in my memory.

        • Yes, the Campbell interview with Peters was very good. Winston clearly hasn’t seen the emails. Not sure how long he can keep this bluff up without completely losing credibility.

          • Oh did Peters have some credibility – I hadn’t noticed

          • I watched the interview and thought Winston looked and came across like a polished performer. However, John Campbell did not come across so well, after his continual request from Peters to confirm if he had the emails. Campbell should have known better to pose the same question again and again, even though, every intelligent person would have already concluded that Winston was not going to give him the answer. Too much of the time was wasted with Campbell acting like a spoiled two year old who was having a tantrum because he didn’t get his way.

        • That interview with Key is a good example of Kim Hills ability to cut through prevarication and spin.

          Key says he is restricted by the terms of reference and therefore can’t pursue the revealing of the Dunne emails.

          “But who set the terms of reference, Mr Key? Well I did. So wasn’t that a bit stupid, Mr Key?”

          I would imagine a Kim Hill interview with Matthew Hooton would almost pass for a blood sport!

          • Hmmm.

            A number of posts ago Alan Wilkinson wrote, “I suspect that for many of the political chattering classes, high class current affairs is defined as a politician they hate being grilled”. Whilst I don’t count you as a member of the chattering class, Kat, I’ll suggest it is your bias (or maybe mine), and Hill’s stupidity (or mine).

            How, if you don’t know who or what you are looking for can you apply anything other than a standard generic criteria when setting terms of reference for an investigation? To paraphrase Alan Wilkinson a bit further, the privacy and other legal rights of Peter Dunne (in this case his emails) deserve just as much protection as Deep Throat, John Banks, Nicky Hager, and the Urewera Four. Now if Hill or you want to apply clairvoyance as a necessary and expected skill of a Government, I fear you will both be severely and continually disappointed, no matter who occupies the Beehive

            Also, I listened to the Hill-Key interview, mainly based on Paul Sarrbo’s breathless promotion which would do Dean Lonergan proud. Sorry, but if asking, “What was (Dunne’s) lapse of judgement that caused him to resign” counts as having Key on the ropes, then “ask him” seems like a pretty deft and appropriate response, that let Key dance away untouched. Why would Key necessarily know, or why should he be expected to know, anymore than anyone outside of Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance? Or isn’t, “Ask the right question of the right person” something that is taught in Journalism 101?

            Also, umm, is Kim Hill always that rude continually interrupting just as someone begins to answer? OK, politicians especially, courtesy of the spin-weasels they all employ, shouldn’t be allowed to dominate space and time with long discursive evasions. But I wouldn’t tolerate that sort of treatment, and I don’t care if it is Helen Clark, John Key, or whoever, it isn’t a good or professional interviewing technique.

          • In attracting a critic like you Kimbo, I take as an indication that Kim Hill was doing her job well, which would be the cause for no discomfort.

            Now, that sounds familiar…….

          • now, now, Kat.

            I did go out of my way to try and de-personalise my critique, Kat, and give reasons for my judgements.

            I thought our relationship had entered a new phase. Anytime you want to respond to the substance I posted, I’ll be happy to conider the wisdom of your critique.



            • 10 Brownie Points, Kimbo.

            • “I thought our relationship had entered a new phase”

              Well Kimbo, there you go, just shows the perils of one way ‘relationship’ infatuation. Very current at the moment. And now with all those ‘brownie points’ you will most likely be further bewitched.

              However, I will take you at your word and I look forward to reading some substance from you that I can offer my considered response.

              By the way, Kim Hill showed again on radio this morning with the Hekia Parata interview her skill in exposing spin by asking probing questions and getting revealing answers. The latest revelation being that National Standards ‘data’ at best only confirms what educators have known for some time.

              It will be most interesting observing what direction the minister gives now.


                “The latest revelation being that National Standards ‘data’ at best only confirms what educators have known for some time.”

                Maybe that quality of claivoyance is more abundant than otherwise thought.

                Speaking of clairvoyance, I note that was a matter of substance (IMHO) that I brought to your attention in regards to your approval of Hill’s assessment. While you are in no way obligated to respond, I think your failure to do so suggests it ain’t necessarily Key’s actions which are stupid in the matter, but rather his critics.

                Here’s another in response to your moving of the conversation on to other things (I figure if I want you to deal with substance, you deserve the courtesy of being taken seriously in the matters you raise):

                Since when is receiving confirmation not important for policy makers, administrators, and experts in the field?

                I was actually more partial to this assessment:


                “Teachers and schools will never be perfectly consistent in their testing and marking but with professional guidance they can be consistent enough to provide their pupils and the paymasters with useful measures of the education system’s performance. That is what the Government was seeking. Now, with two years of figures to compare, the minister can

                …(please take note, Kat & Kim Hill) begin to act on the results”.


                  “Since when is receiving confirmation not important for policy makers, administrators, and experts in the field?”

                  When it is used as spin to give the impression that bad policy such as National Standards actually achieves something worthwhile when educators ‘en-mass’ have been informing the govt to the contrary for some time. And, as I said it will be interesting the direction the minister gives now that she has this ‘data’.

                  Key is not ‘stupid’ per se, far from it, he is deviously clever. And he is the PM. However, and ever so often, and more often than not lately, he has been found to be not so clever. As clever as the spin is, Key exhibits signs of being mired in it and quite possibly to the extent it could incense those that think the validity of his cleverness should not be challenged. Let alone by your description a ‘rude’ and ‘journalist 101′ Kim Hill.

                  I don’t believe I need to respond to your ‘positive assessment’ of some anonymous editorial in the Herald.


                  No, no Kat.

                  I didn’t ask if Key was stupid.

                  I asked if the judgements of you and Kim Hill were stupid in expecting any person (Key in particular) to exhibit clairvoyance as an everyday and expected ability to do their job?

                  I realise using phrases like “stupid”, “rude” and “journalist 101″ are not necessarily polite, but then I seem to remember it was Hill, via your glowing report of her interview who interjected the loaded phrase ‘stupid’ into the discussion.

                  Ordinarily I’d apologise if you feel I’ve got you engaged in a game for Fox and Hounds, but given your comment, “I would imagine a Kim Hill interview with Matthew Hooton would almost pass for a blood sport!” I figure you don’t mind. Unless, as per Richard, “Kat, I wonder if you ever see beyond the filters you impose on yourself”.




                Kat, I wonder if you ever see beyond the filters you impose on yourself.


                  I can assure you there is nothing inhibiting about the filters, they are clear and highly transparent.

  10. All this talk about the PC-ness of the “how Maori are you question” (which was a totally valid question BTW as it lead into the next question) has detracted from the more important thoughts of the MInister distilled in the interview:

    Rachel: “do you agree that rich kids do better in our education system than poor kids?”

    Hekia: “No I wouldn’t agree… because to agree would be demoralising to poor kids.”

    How can anyone construe her performance as good when she gives such obtuse answers as this?!

    • 10.1

      Is it really obtuse? It shows where her heart is. If she had replied, “But not all rich kids do better than all poor kids”, that would just have shown where her head was.

  11. No fan of Parata, but I do not think its anyone’s business as to “how Maori she is”.

    Rather like someone asking the author of this post how Irish he is, or John Key how Jewish he is.

    • 11.1

      Depends on context doesn’t it? If you are a Minister promoting change as designed to improve a “long tail of Maori failure” it seems arguably relevant. Also Parata has come across previously as rather intellectually distant. That question invites a more personal and engaging response. Particularly since whakapapa is so important in Maori culture.

  12. “Parata has come across previously as rather intellectually distant” you are too kind Alan. At present Parata is getting heavy tutelage in the exercise of IMAGE building.
    She has taken no responsibility for her eduction portfolio’s massive failures,….Novopay, class-size back down, merger of schools, not in touch with the capabilities of the people in her own department. In the past Parata has been described as confrontational, arrogant, a tendency to talk in ministry jargon as an evasive communicator. She is the face of educational blunders.Future prime minister material….Yea Right!

  13. 13

    I agree she was out of her depth on Novopay – in my view because she has no business management experience. But MPs should be there to direct policy, not to manage, and it seems clear they were blatantly misinformed and misled by MoE management.

    Class size – the policy and basis was correct. The Ministry screwed up the implementation. Likewise the Chch mergers though that seems to have been remedied via belated good consultation.

    In my opinion she inherited a dysfunctional Ministry which is slowly being fixed. I suspect the teacher unions would prefer it to stay weak and incompetent.

    As for PM material, I wouldn’t know. Others will judge that.

  14. Hekia is hopelessy inept. Period.

  15. “No I wouldn’t agree… because to agree would be demoralising to poor kids”
    As if they are not demoralised already.

    • 15.1

      Patronising much? That is a disgusting, completely wrong and seriously damaging generalisation. After 15 years sponsoring the Duffy Books in Home scheme in a decile one school I can vouch that you don’t know what you are talking about.

      Poor kids are as capable and confident as any others given the right motivation, beliefs and environment.

  16. Smally first expresses surprise that being Maori, Parata did not stand for Labour. She then asks Parata how much of a Maori she is. So, understood in its proper context the inference from this question is clear: real Maoris support Labour, race traitors support National, and said traitors are disqualified from identifying themselves as Maori. As a Maori and life long centre right voter I find this sort of racial stereotyping patronizing, offensive, and sinister.

    • 16.1

      Phil, yes, that is a very valid criticism. But it got diverted into a complaint about racism whereas it is really an issue about left-wing journalism and dependent Maori leadership.

  17. Great Alan sponsoring books that must be just like living in a low income household.

  18. Just pointing out to you that basis for your assumption is flawed.You are perceived as someone who gives gifts .Surely that would bias the children’s attitudes?
    I grew up in a low income house hold and continue to live in one as do my children .Most of my friends are in the same socio economic group. Obviously that is why I’m so trite and ignorant for which I apologise.

    • No need to apologise, pjr.

      Working class (where my family roots and initial up-bringing most certainly lie) snobs with a chip on both shoulders and a seemingly permanently-aggrieved victim mentality that they use to try and shame and silence others usually have some comedy value.

      Sort of like the caricature of the nasty, rich and greedy Tory landlord giving out trinkets at Christmas to his tenants in the hope of assuaging their anger over the exorbitant rent he charges, no doubt emotionally satisfies your existing schema of understanding.

      One question, pjr: If the nasty, rich and greedy Tories have to be continually dragged and badgered and emotionally shamed into coughing up enough dough via taxation, or implementing and maintaining the systemic changes so that the “low income house hold(s)” that you, “your children”, and “most of my friends” “continue to live in” can get by…

      why not swallow your pride, accept the common sense advice that

      1. in order for change to occur someone will have to change their actions (which could entail a preliminary change in belief), and

      2. rather than waiting for others (like the aforementioned nasty, rich and greedy Tories) to make the changes in belief and action that will transform the “lives” of you, “your children”, and “most of my friends”, it is easier to FIRST take action yourself by taking the opportunities (like ‘Duffy Books in Home’) that are available?

      Give it a go. It might help.

      I speak as a former fully paid-up member of the working class snob with a chip on both shoulders and Labour Party member brigade who now willingly votes in favour of John Keys “aspirational society” as it is (IMHO) a valuable message and policy for those who “continue to live in low income household(s)” who are wanting and willing for a change to occur.

      I’m not naive enough to think that will necessarily transform the life of many, most, or every working class battler, and the tragedies and vagaries of life mean we should always have a welfare safety net in place – which, IMHO the present Government is maintaining reasonably well.

      Nevertheless, pjr, you seem to have time, passion, and an ability to string together and express ideas, so you certainly seem to have some abilities.

      Ordinarily I would never presume to give others advice, but seeing as you have offered the “low income house hold(s)” that you, “your children”, and “most of my friends” “continue to live in” as a prop in your argument to rhetorically bash someone over the head with, I guess I’m asking

      …what decisions and choices are you, “your children”, and “most of your friends” currently making that you can change, so that you won’t “continue to live in” :low income household(s)”?

    • 18.2

      Are you and your children demoralised? The children in the school we regularly visit are not and neither are their teachers. Many go on to succeed in further education and their lives.

      Most “poor” people today live in luxury compared with the way we grew up in a working class area of Christchurch straight after WW2.

  19. So far Ms Smalley has not offered an apology, saying on Twitter the questions were aimed at getting the minister on the “back foot”.