Thursday, June 19, 2014

The politicians in person - for NZ Gifted Awareness Week

Yes, another political post for Gifted Awareness Week!

I hope that the following impressions of the speakers at the Auckland Political Panel last night will help those of you who could not attend. I am biased but I welcome discussion from others with different biases.

Kudos to all the parties who sent representatives to talk with us in a face-to-face! You can also read the official party gifted policy document for more information.

The evening was introduced by Deb Clarke, CEO of NZCGE and Rose Blackett, President of NZAGC and moderated by Lynda Garrett of the University of Auckland. All gave fantastic introductions to the barriers and frustrations those of us in the gifted community experienced, and they posed questions for the panelists. After the panelists' formal speeches, questions were taken from the audience, which was comprised of many experienced gifted educators and advocates.


Maggie Barry had this portfolio given to her recently; while she had done some admirable last-minute swotting, like most last minute swotters she showed that she didn't understand the big picture, even her own party's decisions about funding. She reiterated that National had chosen to fund the underachieving educational area instead of extending gifted children and, although properly sympathetic and outraged at our plight, made no indication that there are any plans to change.

Regarding the school culture problem and bullying of gifted children, she felt that bolstering the self-esteem of the bullied was crucial, as in her experience with her own child being bullied, the bullies were "waste of space individuals."

She promised to report our messages back to the government.


Chris Hipkins, showing more clue than Maggie, pointed out that 5 out of 5 children succeeding did not mean they were all equal. He described the progress in gifted education that occurred during Labour's government, to many nodding heads. He promised there would be more funding specifically in our area, but was not able answer directly as to what area that money would be taken from as their budget announcement is not yet public. He contributed to the 2013 BlogTour.


Catherine Delahunty showed clear personal investment and history aligned with our interests (she has been blogging for the BlogTour since 2012). Her speech included genuine passion and detail about the barriers we face, which resonated with the audience, many of whom she already knew. Rumour has it that her car was shunted on the motorway on the way here, and she came to speak anyway. Although she supports separate targeted programmes for the gifted, she believes that these should be supported by the government. She said that she would remove the funding from the charter school area in order to fund gifted education.

NZ First

Tracey Martin said some great things, but lost some points for announcing she had decided not to change her speech and then clearly reading her speech. NZ First highlights the need for a national summit on the success of our current education direction. She had personal experience with her own special needs children in the school system, and the failure of the system to address these needs led her eventually to get involved in politics. She said that gifted funding would come from rearranging the current allocation away from the top level bureaucracy in education.


David Seymour declared that ACT knew nothing about gifted education and that the Ministry of Education was also not qualified in this area, but that charter schools would fix everything because everyone could most effectively "vote with their feet" to another school if one school did not suit. While he mentioned knowing that having to move schools was a terrible thing for child and parent, he said that having the choice of a wide variety of special character schools was the practical solution to providing for individual student needs. While David did not blog for the BlogTour, John Banks contributed in 2012.

Maori and Internet Mana

No show.


All these politicians have a dream of making a difference, but their priorities, goals, and chosen directions are very different. Use your vote when it counts.

This post has been written for the 2014 Gifted Awareness Week Blog tour. See all the blogs as they are voted on...

Jessica Parsons is the current president of Auckland Explorers, branch of the NZ Association for Gifted Children. She has two gifted children with her gifted husband.

1 comment:

  1. The blog tour isn't over until Sunday night. I did give all the panelists the choice of blogging before the Political Panels, or afterwards in rebuttal. So we shall see.