QA News

QA News Issue 96
- 2 Jun 2017

ISSN 1170-3318 (Online)


QA News Header 2017 white

QA News is a quarterly publication that brings together the activities from across NZQA.


Chief Executive's News

Karen Poutasi 1

Welcome to this quarter’s issue of QA News.

Last month we celebrated the extraordinary achievement of New Zealand’s highest achieving students at NZQA’s Top Scholar Awards event, which is an annual highlight in the NZQA calendar.

The top scholars filled Parliament’s Grand Hall, along with their whānau and teachers, to celebrate their success. I always enjoy seeing each student receive recognition for the time and effort they put in to their studies. I greatly admire the dedication and astute minds these young people possess.

I would like to congratulate Christopher Mayo, who is this year’s winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence. This award is an outstanding achievement, and is well deserved. Read more about the Top Scholar Ceremony here, or find out more about Christopher Mayo here.

NZQA has recently launched the New Zealand Record of Achievement, which gives learners the ability to access their records on a secure platform, anywhere, anytime through the NZQA website. Find out more about this new platform here.

There’s plenty more going on at NZQA, everything from more work on NCEA online, to new international agreements, so do read on.

Ngā mihi

Dr Karen Poutasi

Christopher Mayo wins Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence

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Christopher Mayo, a former student of Hamilton Boys’ High School, was awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence at the Top Scholar Awards on 3 May.

Minister of Education, the Hon Nikki Kaye, presented the award at the New Zealand Scholarship Top Scholar Awards ceremony on her second day as Minister.

The Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence was established in 2011, and recognises the success of the highest achieving New Zealand Scholarship student. The winner has the highest overall level of academic excellence of the New Zealand Scholarship Premier Award winners.

Christopher achieved Outstanding Scholarships in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, Calculus, and Classical Studies, as well as Scholarships in English and Media Studies. He was also Top Subject Scholar for Chemistry.

‘At Hamilton Boys’ High School, Christopher distinguished himself as a true academic leader by consistently achieving to a very high level, and excelling in a diverse range of subjects,’ said Minister Kaye.

The annual Top Scholar Awards ceremony recognises the top students from the  New Zealand Scholarship examinations. Students, their families, representatives from the Scholars’ schools and representatives from the education sector gather to recognise the extraordinary achievements of these students.

NZQA Acting Board Chair, John Morgan, presented the 2016 Top Subject Scholar Awards, which recognise the highest achieving student in each of the 35 New Zealand Scholarship subjects. ‘The sheer talent, breadth and depth of success shown by this group of Top Scholars is truly inspirational. I know we can be confident that New Zealand will be in good hands with these future leaders’, he said.

Premier Awards are awarded to the top five to ten New Zealand Scholarship students. In 2016 ten Premier Award winners received their medals and certificates from the Minister, who acknowledged the hard work that goes into these achievements – not just from the students themselves, but also their families and schools. Minister Kaye particularly acknowledged the parents of the award recipients. ‘The reality is that many of the young people here, while they have done extraordinary things, you have been with them every single step of the way.’

Congratulations to all of the award recipients on your achievements.

Meet Christopher Mayo

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In 2016 Christopher was a Prefect, and was awarded Dux of Hamilton Boys’ High School.

He was runner-up at the 2016 New Zealand’s Next Top Engineering Scientist Competition, and came first in the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Analytical Chemistry Competition in 2015.

Christopher is a talented musician, playing electric keyboard and trombone, and over the last few years has become a private tutor, guiding students through the Guildhall examinations.

He was a member of the college’s chess team, the premier debating team, and took part in the Model UN. He was also a member of the Academic Committee, and as part of an extension programme, took a course through Waikato University.

As he accepted the award, Christopher spoke about the power of opportunities, and emphasised the importance for all New Zealanders to have access to educational opportunities.

The Principal of Hamilton Boys’ High School, Susan Hassall, describes Christopher as a genuine member of the school community, and a team player.

This year Christopher is studying Biomedical Science at the University of Auckland.

Access your achievement anytime, anywhere

NZRoA example

NZQA is working with learners, education providers and employers to ensure that their needs are met in a world that is increasingly global, digital and connected. As part of this work, NZQA has refreshed the Record of Achievement (ROA), the official transcript of national qualifications and standards.

Now known as the New Zealand Record of Achievement (NZRoA), the new record is a secure electronic record that is accessible anywhere, anytime through the NZQA website.

New features will allow learners to customise, save, and share an electronic version of their record of achievement. This is a user-friendly, electronic transcript of qualifications and standards on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. A service on NZQA’s website is available for third parties to verify the document received is authentic.

The NZRoA will ensure that learners’ records are as comprehensive and useful as possible, when job-searching or applying for further learning, and will support lifelong learners.

Website links are provided on the new digital record that give more information about the NZQF qualifications and the education system in New Zealand. This is particularly useful when sharing the record overseas, with employers, or institutions less familiar with the New Zealand education system.

To learn more about the NZRoA see here on the NZQA website.

Thumbs up – a good sign

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New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is increasing in presence, both in public events and in uptake as an additional language learned in schools.  The former NZSL unit standards have been replaced by registered achievement standards for NCEA at all three levels, and a high level of student engagement and student work is now being generated as a result.

NZQA held a meeting bringing together four teachers of Sign Language from Kelston Deaf Education Centre (Auckland) and Van Asch Deaf Education Centre (Christchurch).  Their aim was to begin setting the standard, with a view to establishing a formal moderation system for the subject in the near future. Shirley Bain, National Moderator for Languages, worked with the group to identify the differentiation of (Sign) language skills across the standards’ criteria, and the curriculum-based step ups through Levels 1, 2 and 3.  The group valued this opportunity to be together to build a common understanding about these essential aspects of assessment and moderation.

The meeting had a point of difference to other similar inaugural subject moderation meetings that NZQA has facilitated – it required the presence of two very skilled interpreters of Sign Language, who were very quickly able to understand the technical aspects of the moderation discussion, so kept the discussion relevant and fluent.  Two of the participating teachers required signing interpretation, while the other two were both hearing and signing-capable, which provided a true perspective of the context of teaching and teachers of NZSL in schools.

The participating teachers considered this meeting both professional development and the beginning of development of a team of moderation-capable practitioners, which they welcomed.  They are keen to see progress in the inclusion of their hearing-impaired students in gaining NCEA qualifications in every way possible.  These meetings will occur at least on a yearly basis and contracted roles in moderation will emerge from it.

To learn more about the new NZSL achievement standards click here.

To see NZQA’s ‘How NCEA works’ video in New Zealand Sign Language click here.

New Pasifika advisor promotes NCEA success


With just under 70 per cent of the Pasifika student population residing in Auckland, it makes perfect sense that the newly created Senior Advisor Pasifika position, is based in our largest city.

Fritz Evile hit the ground running, starting his new role two days before the Auckland ASB Polyfest in mid-March.  He joined members from across the education sector, as he set up the NZQA stall at Polyfest, creating a welcoming and friendly way to engage with NCEA.

Fritz was able to promote the importance of NCEA, talk about achieving good results, and promote STEM education pathways – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to Pasifika learners and their families.

Promoting success in NCEA, and the opportunities of STEM education pathways underpin the partnerships and collaborations that the NZQA Office of Pasifika is advancing with schools, agencies, and tertiary providers. The NCEA ma le Pasifika programme, now led by Fritz, has been delivered to nearly 1,200 Pasifika parents, learners and community members since July 2016. These programmes provide Pasifika parents and learners with key information about qualifications, success at school and STEM pathways. 

Feedback from NCEA ma le Pasifika workshops shows that participants found the information useful, they increased their understanding of NCEA and how they can help their children to succeed.  Parents reported they would be actively making sure their children attend school every day, know when all their children’s assessments were due, and make sure that their children take English, Maths and Science up to Level 2. 

If you wish to hold a free NCEA ma le Pasifika workshop in your local community, please contact Fritz Evile on or by phoning NZQA on 0800 697 296

NZQA signs arrangement with Bahrain

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NZQA signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Bahrain’s Education and Training Quality Authority (BQA), in Bahrain, on 1 March 2017. Deputy Chief Executive, Quality Assurance, Dr Grant Klinkum signed the MoC on behalf of NZQA while he was in Bahrain for the 2017 conference for the International Network in Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.

The MoC focuses on exchanges of information related to the implementation of qualifications frameworks. It also refers to undertaking a comparison of both countries’ national qualifications frameworks. Dr Klinkum presented BQA’s Chief Executive with an invitation for BQA officials to visit NZQA to share information about each other’s system and discuss future areas of cooperation.

BQA was established in 2008 to conduct examinations and quality assurance reviews for schools, vocational institutions and higher education institutions. The National Qualifications Framework of Bahrain was added to BQA’s responsibilities in 2012.

Formal cooperation agreements, such as this MoC with Bahrain, are increasingly common practice in a globally connected world. NZQA aims to have qualification recognition arrangements with at least 50 countries by 2020.

STEM pathways for Māori learners

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One of NZQA’s strategic goals is to work with partners to influence a 50% lift in Māori learners achieving NCEA Level 3 in STEM related subjects – Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics by 2020.

NZQA’s partnership initiatives aim to inspire and support Māori learners into STEM related study, help learners and their whānau to make informed NCEA choices, and prepare them to be adaptable for a future workforce. For example, in partnership with Massey University’s Pūhoro Science Academy, NZQA has delivered the NCEA and the Whānau programme to whānau of over 200 students involved with the academy. It is very empowering and whānau are better able to support their child as a result. Through a range of STEM activities, experiences and mentors the academy results show Pūhoro students have surpassed NCEA achievement rates in core science subjects.

NZQA Deputy Chief Executive, Māori and Pasifika, Daryn Bean, says ‘we will continue to partner with iwi, employers, schools and education providers to inspire and support learners.

The partnership with the Pūhoro Science academy is a great example and we are keen for more. The idea is to partner and influence so students find themselves in a position where they have choices and pathways open to them through their success in STEM subjects.’

Partnerships may include working with students to co-design events and activities to engage more Māori students into STEM. NZQA also partners with schools to deliver the NCEA and the Whānau information programme that help parents, students, and whānau gain a better understanding of NCEA. 

If you are interested in having a free NCEA and the Whānau workshop in your community, please contact Lhi Te Iwimate, Manager Māori Strategy on or by calling NZQA on 0800 697 296.

Pocket guide kickstarts NCEA journey

Introducing NCEA English brochure cover

NZQA has a new brochure for students and whānau, and it even fits in your pocket.

Introducing NCEA will give students the essential information to kickstart their NCEA journey.

This pocket guide complements the How NCEA Works video, which is available on our website, where navigating through NCEA is presented as a journey. Like all journeys, there are different levels, and you build on things you learnt before.

When you’re at the beginning of any journey, there can be a lot of questions, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Introducing NCEA is designed to help students and whanau get to know the basics of NCEA right at the beginning of the journey.

Everybody’s NCEA journey is different, as it’s a flexible qualification. The pocket guide is intended to motivate students and whānau to ask questions and find more information, specific to their learner’s NCEA journey.

Because of the size, students can keep this guide in their pencil case, or in the front page of their school diary for easy reference, or even on the fridge so the whole whānau can refer to it.

The pocket guide will be available to order through our website within the next month.


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