On Tuesday last week, new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced Jan Tinetti would take over the Education portfolio as part of his cabinet reshuffle.
Kelvin Davis becomes the Associate Minister of Education for Māori, and Jo Luxton becomes the Under-Secretary of Education.
Tinetti, who had previously worked in education for 20 years, had been the Associate Education Minister. Of his decision, Hipkins said “Jan Tinetti is uniquely placed to address the post-Covid challenges our education system has faced and to get our kids back into the classroom and learning.”
Tinetti said “I’m so excited to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.
“I’m hitting the ground running. I don’t want to sit back and wait for things to happen.”
Tinetti cited learning support as one of the top priorities in education, saying “We have to make sure education is equitable for all. I see that as a really big issue.”
Tinetti has been warmly welcomed by the education community, with NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter saying she “knows only too well the issues that are facing our educators”.
Potter expressed hope that Tinetti would listen to educators’ recent concerns, noting there are “policy directions needed to achieve the significant shift in funding and thinking… to ensure that tamariki receive the education they deserve.”
NZEI Te Riu Roa also nodded to Luxton’s appointment, stating that her experience as a former ECE owner meant she brought valuable experience to the role.
Leanne Otene, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation was similarly hopeful about the cabinet changes, saying she was “delighted” with Tinetti’s appointment.
“Both [Tinetti and Davis] are ex-principals… I’ve got quite a lot of faith and confidence that going forward, we will really see some changes and a more equitable education,” said Otene.
Tinetti picks up the portfolio at a time when the majority of educators are negotiating their collective agreements with the government, and facing challenges with disrupted learning and resourcing.