I think Hekia Parata is a poor Minister. Every time I hear her speak I think of the famous Orwell essay Politics and the English Language, and his translation of a passage from Ecclesiastes into modern bureaucratic speak:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
Hence schools marked for closure are being ‘rejuvenated’, and all of Parata’s debacles are ‘challenges’. Well, one more major ‘challenge’ and Key is going to have to sack his Education Minister for gross incompetence. But I do think the PPTA are being pretty damn precious here:
Education Minister Hekia Parata hit a bum note with secondary teachers today when she said children had told her their teachers weren’t pronouncing their names correctly.
Ms Parata told teachers at the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) conference in Wellington that one of the most common things Maori and Pacific children tell her is that teachers don’t know how to correctly say their names.
“It starts with pronouncing names correctly. It’s one of the most common things I hear [from] focus groups with Maori and Pacifica kids.”
The comment came in the middle of her speech, which had been well-received until that point, but was met with a collective jaw-drop and groan from teachers in the room.
The atmosphere quickly turned icy as the teachers became outraged.
Outraged at the suggestion they pronounce students names correctly? As someone whose name is occasionally mispronounced to rhyme with ‘anal’ (some people get a funny gleam in their eye: ‘Danal! That’s a hell of a nice name!’) I’m with Parata on this one.