Ministerial Advisory Group reviewing school staffing

A Ministerial Advisory Group on school staffing has been established by the Minister of Education.

The purpose of the Ministerial Advisory Group is to provide advice to the Minister of Education on the question of: ‘what skills and staffing are required across schools to deliver on the purpose of education as set out in the Education and Training Act and the National Education and Learning Priorities’.

The Group is made up of experts from the education sector who understand how schools work, including school funding mechanisms and the staffing entitlement part of the school resourcing system. The Group will provide independent advice and recommendations to the Minister of Education who has requested that the Group provide an initial report back within three months of their initial meeting.

The Terms of Reference for the Group [PDF, 278 KB]


A brief biography of each of the members is set out below:

Dame Karen Sewell (Chair)

Dame Karen has had an extensive career in education and the public service. She has been a secondary school principal, the Chief Executive and Chief Review Officer of ERO, Acting Chief Executive of NZQA, and Secretary for Education at the Ministry of Education. More recently, she was on the Board of ANZSOG (Australia and New Zealand School of Government), and was a former Board Chair of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.

Whetū Cormick

Whetū Cormick (Tainui, Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga, Ireland, Scotland) is an educational consultant with extensive leadership experience. He has worked as a former Principal at four New Zealand schools; Orere School, Paihia School, Macandrew Intermediate School, and the establishment Principal for Bathgate Park School. As an establishment Principal, he succeeded in transforming the Establishment Board of Trustees’ vision for a technology and arts-focused curriculum into reality. He is also a past president of the New Zealand Principals' Federation (2017-2019), and was a member of the Pūaotanga review panel into primary school staffing settings in 2021, commissioned by the NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Fa’atili Iosua Esera, MNZM

Iosua Esera has been the Principal of a bilingual school, Sutton Park School in Mangere East since 2014. Learning at Sutton Park is delivered in Te Reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan and English with about half the learning taking place in bilingual classes. Iosua Esera has strong leadership experience and has been a Principal for over 35 years at 5 different schools. He has twice been the president of the national organisation of Samoan teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand (FAGASA Incorporated) and was a founding member of the NZ Pasifika Principals Association. Fa’atili Iosua Esera is a strong advocate for Pasifika students, with considerable experience in lobbying for their education. He also initiated Samoan Language Week in 2006 and established the annual Samoan language speech contest for primary and secondary students in 2007. In 2023, Iosua was awarded the MNZM for services to Pacific Education.

Tony Grey

Tony Grey has been a Principal for close to 20 years. He is the foundation Principal at Te Ao Mārama School, Hamilton which has quadrupled in size since opening in 2019. He has been a Principal of a small rural school, medium-size semi-rural school, and now a large urban school (which is one of the public private partnership schools). Grey was also the first Lead Principal of a Kāhui Ako in Hamilton. Te Ao Mārama School is well known for its innovative teaching and learning programme, its diversity (45% of roll are English as a second language learners), and commitment to Te Reo me ngā tikanga Māori (the whole school is Māori language funded and they have a rich relationship with mana whenua). Grey is well known across the country for his support of Principals, and his depth of knowledge and innovation when it relates to staffing and funding. He was recently recognised for this support, with Life Membership of the Waikato Principal Association.

Sandy Hastings

Sandy Hastings has been the Principal of Beckenham | Te Kura o Pūroto Primary in Christchurch since 2011. She is an experienced Principal of 18 years and has held several governance positions with education sector groups. She was on the National Executive of the New Zealand's Principals Association from 2018 to 2021. She has been a member of the Canterbury Primary Principals Association Executive since 2013 and became the President in 2021. In addition to her background in school leadership, she brings experience in primary education, change leadership, educational technology, and instructional design to the work of the MAG.

Mina Pomare-Peita

Mina Pomare-Peita has been the Principal of Te Kura Taumata o Panguru for 21 years. Before that she worked in a range of management roles. Mina knows the North well and she knows the schools in Te Tai Tokerau, particularly Te Hiku o Te Ika and Hokianga. She has been a teaching Principal all her career, and she believes in pushing boundaries to achieve success, not just with students but also with staff. In 2021 Te Kura Taumata o Panguru achieved the Prime Minister's Excellence Award in Engaging. This year, Pomare-Peita had 7 staff (including herself) complete a Masters of Contemporary Education to learn more about collaboration and leadership in practice. She believes that these are some of the new learnings that schools need to adopt in the 21st century classroom, in the post-pandemic classroom, and in order to make a connection between schooling through to tertiary education and employment. She is an effective contributor to conversations and decisions around Māori medium settings.

Dr Sylvia Robertson

Dr Sylvia Robertson is a lecturer in Education Studies for undergraduate and postgraduate programs at the University of Otago. Dr Robertson has strong leadership skills, holding roles as Director of the University of Otago Centre for Educational Leadership and Administration, and Co-director, UCEA Centre for the International Study of School Leadership. She has authored many publications on the leadership self, teacher effectiveness, leadership for social justice, and leadership in high need settings. She has spent time in diverse roles within the school education sector in leadership and teaching within New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. She has taught in a range of schools, including all-boys, all-girls, state, independent, and bilingual.

Derek Slatter

Derek Slatter has been on multiple school boards in the primary and secondary sector, is an accredited Provider and was Chair of The Taitokerau Regional Executive for NZSTA. He also has broad experience in commercial governance and management, specialising in innovation, productivity and process improvement. He will contribute to the Group from a school governance and business perspective as well as Te Tiriti O Waitangi lens, including ways in which those impacted by poverty can be better served by working on the structure of our education system.

Helen Tuhoro MNZM

Helen Tuhoro has been contributing to education for over 40 years, and currently is the foundation Principal at Tarawera High School. Since her appointment in 2012, Mrs Tuhoro has led the redesign of the school’s curriculum, oversaw the design and build of a new Modern Learning Environment, introduced free breakfasts and lunches, provided a Teen Parent Education Centre, Alternative Education service, Specialist Learning Centre for students with high learning needs, managed the Pūtauaki ki Rangitaiki Attendance Services and developed a Defence Academy. In 2018 and 2019, over 86% of year 11-13 students were passing their respective NCEA Levels, and in 2020 this reached over 90% in all levels, compared to less than 50% in 2013 when the school started. Previously Mrs Tuhoro was the Deputy Principal of Trident High School in Whakatāne between 1999 and 2012 and Deputy Principal at Kawerau College from 1989-1999. She was a member of the Ministry of Education’s advisory group on replacing the decile system and in 2022 Mrs Tuhoro was awarded the MNZM for services to Education.

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