Chris Hipkins

Cavalier attitude to NCEA stuff up results in coverup

Jo Moir reports

Hundreds of NCEA students who asked to see their exam booklets have been sent other people’s by mistake.

The revelation that 455 students were sent other people’s booklets this year was news to principals, who were not notified about the blunder, although Education Minister Hekia Parata was.

Only 260 students, ranging across all NCEA levels, contacted the Qualifications Authority to say they had the wrong booklets. Of those, 169 were then sent the correct booklets; the other 91 cases remain unresolved.

A subcontractor’s computer glitch has been blamed for the error, which NZQA discovered in January.

Subcontractor’s computer glitch.  Really.

This is the new way to shift blame:  the unnamed sub contractor did it.   The same “reason” was used to limit the damage of the Peter Dunne / Andrea Vance email investigation.  When they realised they stuffed it up, it was all the fault of some nameless, faceless subcontractor.

Tawa College principal Murray Lucas said he was made aware of the error by a student, and was “disappointed” NZQA had not contacted him directly.

“It’s a difficult situation for students to deal with, and I’m disappointed to have to hear these things from the students.”

Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins said NZQA should have been upfront about the botch-up.

“When a breach like this occurs, people should be told about it, and to sweep it under the rug is unacceptable.”

He said it was disgraceful that Parata knew about the issues and did not make a public statement or insist schools be notified.

However much it pains me to agree with Hipkins, he’s damn right and he’s not even going over the top.

When problems like these are discovered, you notify all the stakeholders.   Mistakes happen.  We can get past those.  But what we have here is a clear attempt to contain the damage by trying to cover it all up.

And now, neither the NZQA nor Parata are taking any responsibility because it was just a little data corruption on some unknown third party’s PC.


NZQA had addressed Parliament’s education and science select committee since it became aware of the error, but did not reveal it. “It’s pretty outrageous they haven’t given full disclosure about this,” Hipkins said.

Parata said she was told about the problems in January, and updated again in February by NZQA.

“While it is a regrettable mistake, I have been assured by NZQA that further quality checks have been put in place to ensure this type of error does not take place in future.”

NZQA deputy chief executive of assessment Richard Thornton said the error was not a privacy breach because the exam booklets did not contain any information that could identify a person.

He said the next step would be to contact schools directly.

Parata will regret trying to keep this quiet in an attempt to let the NZQA hide the problem from the public.  It is much better to admit to a problem than to have to defend the cover up.

Parata is an awful education minister.   How do I know?  Well, this is election year, and the NZEI and PPTA are as quiet as a mouse… it appears they would like to keep her in the job for another 3 years rather than face the uncertainty of having to cope with the likes of Ryall or Joyce.


- Stuff

Colin James on Cunliffe

Colin James joins the extending narrative that David Cunliffe can’t win.

James isn’t so crass as to say that out loud, but a read between the lines shows it clearly.

David Cunliffe has just under six months to build the sort of credibility for a Labour-Greens coalition that pulls some voters across from National’s side and some non-voters in from the cold.

In his six months as leader Cunliffe, first, got only a short-lived bump in opinion polls and then in February-early March took Labour back to its David Shearer low. His biggest publicity recently has been for leadership stumbles.

And those stumbles are real stumbles, rather than Shearer’s mumbles.

First, Cunliffe chose to run Labour’s innovative children policy as a cash handout when its real value is a focus on children’s physical experience in the womb and nutritional, emotional and cognitive experiences in the early years of life. That is, he highlighted the palliative of a dole to parents over investment in children to give even the disadvantaged a close-to-equal opportunity to be full citizens as adults. And he did not say the palliative would be discounted for parental leave cash.

National got two free hits. It could say, first, Labour was sneaky and, second, would be old-style tax-and-spend when an edgy global economy mandates fiscal caution.

One down. Second, he ran a line about super-rich Key being out of touch because he lives in a leafy suburb. A more self-aware Cunliffe would have remembered attacks in the leadership contest that he lives in a nice house in a leafy suburb while promoting a “red” Labour. Another free hit for National.

Two down. Then he had to own up to an anonymous trust to (lavishly) fund his leadership campaign, thereby undermining Labour’s criticism of National’s anonymous election funders and John Banks’ troubles with contributions to his 2010 mayoral campaign. Insiders say Cunliffe had to be persuaded to be open about the trust so that it wouldn’t fester all the way to election day.  Read more »

Nats select a lefty mole in Rimutaka

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 2.34.44 pm

In keeping with tradition, the National Party is determined to ensure its caucus is full of lefties and wets – more interested in symbolism and hugging the centre than getting stuff done.  In Rimutaka for example, a good mate of Pinko’s and pro-MMP campaigner Lewis Holden has been selected.

That’s right. One of the campaigners for MMP, a system that screws National and favours bigger government is now a National Party candidate.  Read more »

No ideas – no traction – desperation

Chris Hipkins has not come up with a valid idea since being Labour spokesperson for Education. His only method is to undo.

- Undo National Standards – even though the majority of parents love them.

- Undo Charter Schools – because the unions are terrified they are losing their patch.

- Prevent any performance pay – and stay under the illusion that all teachers are the same and deserve an incremental pay step every year – regardless of what the actually achieve.

Hipkins has got no traction and is now begging for it on the “Stand up for Kids” facebook page (another of the little left wing protest pages):  Read more »

Labour’s LMAO campaign in full swing

Whaleoil has been having some fun pulling up the NZ Labour Party on social  media gaffes recently.  Those followed hot on the heels of David Cunliffe’s own gaffes.

But what seems rather interesting is that these aren’t just a couple of random incidents.

There are clear signs that the whole Labour campaign is so rushed that mistakes are happening everywhere.

First we have David Cunliffe getting terrible advice, then we have social media gaffes, now we have the Labour direct mail database in complete tatters



Labour appear to be sitting on a corrupt membership/supporters database.  No matter, I’m sure a backup will be on the flash drive in Trevor’s coat pocket.   Read more »

Watkins on the Cunliffe schemozzle

Tracy Watkins has an opinion piece today about “The Enigma of Cunliffe“.

The great enigma about David Cunliffe has always been how someone so smart managed to make so many enemies among his own colleagues.

He is by many accounts a caring boss and doesn’t take himself so seriously that he can’t laugh at himself.

The schemozzle surrounding the Labour leader in recent days probably helps explain the unease of those among his colleagues who opposed his leadership bid.  Cunliffe’s biggest critics have always complained about a lack of self awareness as his potentially fatal flaw.

That is what causes him to swing from a caricature of himself as a gun-slinging troubleshooter to working class hero, who forgets along the way that he also lives in one of Auckland’s swankiest suburbs, Herne Bay.

It may also be what lies at the root of his failure to realise the lack of transparency around donations to his leadership campaign and declaration of financial interests was a grenade waiting to go off.  Read more »

Labour turns hard left with appointment of tax dodger to Labour’s Chief of Staff

McCarten On CunliffeMatt McCarten has been confirmed as Labour’s hard left union friendly Chief of Staff.

There are a few issues though.

Some commentators have labelled McCarten “brilliant” at campaigning. I’m not sure on that.

In the Mana by-eelction this “brilliant” campaigner managed just 849 votes of the 23,000 cast. On top of that he raided the union piggy bank of employee PAYE contributions in order to fund the campaign and left them with over $100,000 if unpaid tax liabilities.

One wonders if Labour’s new tax policy will mean union members and unions will get tax free status.

Then there are the comments about various members of Labour’s caucus, many of whom he has to now manage.

Let’s start at the top with his comments on his new boss, David Cunliffe:

Cunliffe must have a secret plan he’s not sharing with us because he hasn’t initiated one attack on Joyce for more than a month. He’s awol.  Read more »

Another charter school kids love to attend

The North Shore Times featured one of the new charter schools. The students seem to really love the school.

Pity the teacher unions and the Labour and Green parties want to close them down.

Connor Powell gets up at 5am every morning to catch a train and two buses from Papatoetoe to Vanguard Military School in Rosedale.

“It’s worth it – you just have a little sleep on the train,” the 16-year-old says.

The newly opened charter school is sponsored by military prep school Advance Training Centres.

Connor wants to be an army medic and came to Vanguard for the military training.

“Even when they yell at you it teaches you good discipline. Sometimes people get angry but it teaches you just to take it,” he says.

Talking in class, leaning back on a chair or chewing gum will see students on the ground doing press-ups.  Read more »

Maths (and honesty): Why Hipkin’s could never be Minister of Education

In Parliament today Hipkins stated;

“that National wanted to spend more money of Charter Schools than they’re willing to put into the state school system.” (4:15)

Maths check:

Charter Schools: $19m over 4 years. Divided by 4 it is $4.75 million per year.  Read more »

Let’s play Whaleoil Bingo

Let’s play Whaleoil Bingo…Annette King and Chris Hipkins were playing today.

Annette King went after me in parliament today, too gutless to speak to me in private, the land lady went troppo…even mentioning SOCKs and Silly First Name Syndrome (starts at 6:01)

I wonder what the police interviews with her say? We will find out soon enough.

Read more »