QA News

QA News Issue 92
- 29 Jun 2016

ISSN 1170-3318 (Online)

QA News provides information about NZQA activities. It is produced by NZQA four times per year.

In this edition:
Chief Executive's News
Top Scholar Awards Ceremony
Prime Minister's Award Winner - Oxana Repina
NCEA resources available
Improved NCEA Student App
New Deputy Chief Executive - Andrea Gray
Consultation on designs for the 'Universal' Record of Achievement concludes
NZQA's refreshed Pasifika Plan 2015-2017
Students to experience Silicon Valley
New Deputy Chief Executive - Russell Wood
Kia Tū, Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui! Be brave, be bold, be determined!
Digital moderation consultation

Chief Executive's News

KarenPoutasi.jpgCelebrating the amazing achievements of some of New Zealand’s highest academic achievers, at NZQA’s Top Scholar Awards Ceremony, is a highlight of the NZQA calendar.

This year’s event was no exception as New Zealand’s Top Scholarship students from last year’s examinations were recognised in Parliament’s Grand Hall.

It is always good to meet these young people and to be inspired by their strong work ethics, sharp minds and creative flair.

I’d like to warmly congratulate Oxana Repina, who is this year’s winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence, clearly an outstanding achievement.

You can read more about Oxana later in this edition of QA News.  

One of the ways NZQA supports students is through our NCEA Student App. We released this free App last year to help students with their goal setting and with tracking their credits.

We recently improved the App so students can track their NCEA progress over multiple years. More about this and how you can download this resource further down.

Also in this issue, we introduce you to two new Deputy Chief Executive’s here at NZQA. Andrea Gray has taken charge of leading our Digital Assessment Transformation Programme and Russell Wood is leading our Strategic and Corporate Division.

On another note, I recently took part in a video interview for about our Future State programme of work. This programme continues to be a huge priority for us as we work to continually respond to the changing needs of modern learners and employers in this digital, connected world.

Until next time.

Ngā mihi


Top Scholar Awards Ceremony

Top ScholarwebParliament’s Grand Hall buzzed as 36 of New Zealand’s best and brightest students, surrounded by their understandably proud parents and teachers, were recognised for their outstanding academic achievements.

This year’s NZQA Top Scholar Awards ceremony, held on May 4, was jointly hosted by NZQA and the Minister of Education. It was also attended by members of the education community and NZQA Board and staff members.

The awards recognise the highest-achieving students from last year’s New Zealand Scholarship examinations.

Minister Parata described New Zealand Scholarship as the most prestigious secondary school award available.

“New Zealand Scholarship examinations provide a significant challenge for the most able secondary school students.

Scholarship sets a demanding standard. Only around three per cent of Year 13 students studying each subject at Level 3 are awarded Scholarship. Less than half a per cent will achieve Outstanding Scholarships.

Scholarship candidates must not only show comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject, but must also demonstrate high-level critical thinking, effective communication and sophisticated solutions. They must be able to integrate, synthesise and apply knowledge, skills, understanding and ideas to complex situations.”

Ms Parata says it is important we continue to foster, encourage and reward academic excellence.

“In and outside of school these students have all shown themselves to be good leaders and all-round achievers in areas from debating, to music, to sport.

Also speaking at the event, NZQA’s Board Chair, Sue Suckling, told the scholars she had no doubt they would go out into the world and make a difference.

“Your successes so far are truly inspirational and it is a genuine pleasure to be here.

“Your teachers and principals have helped to get you here today and we acknowledge their support and drive to ensuring excellence.

“Scholarship is well regarded and prestigious and world class, so take a bow, your academic ability is beyond doubt.”

Sue explains NZQA is focusing on the impact of digitisation.

“You will have so many new things to go out and think about. Important issues that will have global impacts.

“We charge you with being the generation to embrace these things that will benefit humanity. You will do big, great things and we will continue to work with our colleagues to ensure we provide education and assessment suitable for the modern world. We know you will respond to these challenges.”

At the ceremony the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence was awarded to former Rutherford College student Oxana Repina.

See all of the Premier Scholars.

Prime Minister's Award Winner - Oxana Repina

OxanwebaBalancing study with surfing, taking subjects that interested her and having outstanding suppor tfrom her school and parents, are some of the keys New Zealand’s Top Scholar, Oxana Repina, attributes to her success.

Oxana, a former Rutherford College student, says she was “pretty shocked” when her name was called as the Prime Minister’s Award Winner, which recognises the success of top New Zealand Scholarship student.

“I felt really proud, I didn’t think I would get it. But my parents and school put a lot of effort into helping me do as well as I did.”

Asked specifically what support had helped, Oxana said knowing that her parents had high expectations of her, but not pressuring her was great.

“They were always there for me to ask questions and Mum drove me to lots of the extra Scholarship tutorials. My teachers also believed in me and encouraged me to do better and better.”

She also credits her school, Rutherford College, with helping her thrive.

“Our teachers were really encouraging and believed in us. They helped with goal setting and put in more time than they had to, staying back after class to offer extra support. They really cared about students as individuals. They were just really good people.”

Her advice for teachers is simple.

“If students have certain goals believe in them. Listen to them. If they don’t want to do a certain subject don’t force them, try to help them find something they do enjoy.”

Oxana advises current NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship students to set goals, make a timetable and choose their subjects carefully.

“A lot of people think I spent all my time studying, but I also spent heaps of time outdoors, surfing and tramping. If I just studied all the time I would have hated it.

“I think it helped that I really enjoyed the subjects I was doing. If I was doing subjects just for the sake of it, to meet requirements I wouldn’t have done as well. My best result was in Earth and Space Science, which is what I’m studying now.”

After finishing school, Oxana moved to Australia to study at the University of Sydney.

She is passionate about doing her bit to educate people about climate change, and is considering a career in politics.

Oxana’s Top Tips for students

  • Don’t expect teachers to do everything for you
  • Choose your subjects wisely
  • Love what you’re learning – don’t let exams take the fun out of it
  • Have good balance in your life. Don’t procrastinate and plan your time to study so you also have time for extra-curricular activities
  • Make like-minded friends who will support and encourage you.

NCEA resources available

Understanding-webimage.pngAs we approach the time of year where students and parents are tracking achievement goals, we would like to remind you of the various resources available to assist you in these conversations with your school community, particularly related to NCEA and University Entrance.

Understanding NCEA is a booklet designed for use by students, parents, and the wider school community. It is designed to be a guide to understanding how NCEA works and the importance of having a plan, choosing subjects, career planning and aiming for endorsements. The booklets are available in English, Te Reo, Cook Islands Māori, Samoan, Niuean, and Tongan.

The brochures are available by emailing or you can visit the brochures page of the NZQA website to view PDF versions and download an order form.

A digital resource is also available on the website. The How NCEA works video is a popular animation that provides basic information about NCEA and is particularly useful as an initial overview for parents and students new to secondary school.

The video can be viewed in various Pasifika languages and New Zealand Sign Language. It can be downloaded so that you and your staff can use it at information evenings and events where internet access isn’t necessarily available.

To help clarify information about University Entrance (UE), we have put details in one place on our website. By visiting you and your school community can find out more about the minimum requirements, approved subjects, and background to the changes implemented in 2014.

NZQA has introduced an App that also contains clear and succinct information about UE. The NCEA Guide App includes a link to the more detailed UE information on the website, as well as plenty of useful advice about NCEA itself.

The App was developed to help parents and employers better understand NCEA and is available in English, Te Reo and Pasifika languages. Importantly, parents and whānau can get information about how they can support family members studying towards gaining their secondary school qualification.

The NCEA Student App also helps parents and students track their study and how they are progressing.

This App helps students set goals for further achievement and track their NCEA credit progress. It offers a standalone database with a powerful search engine which allows students to easily find NCEA courses and standards that they are doing, or would like to do.

Students and parents have been asking for information about NCEA and achievements to be accessible online, any time, and the App offers that on any mobile device.

There are a range of Apps available that offer information and advice about NCEA and tracking progress – NZQA encourages students to look at all the Apps available with their families and choose the one that is best suited to their needs.

All resources produced by NZQA are free of charge.

We hope that this reminder is useful to you and that these resources assist you and your staff.

If you have any questions or would like further clarification on NCEA and UE please feel free to contact your School Relationship Manager.

Improved NCEA Student App

languageThe NCEA Student App has been improved so that multiple levels of NCEA study are more visible and better supported, meaning students can track their progress towards various NCEA levels over multiple calendar years.

Also, new users of the App can simply add credits for previous years NCEA study without having to also add standards information first. This means students can track their progress quicker and easier than before.

The free App was released by NZQA last year and was developed to help students track their NCEA credit progress and set goals for further achievement. 

It offers a standalone database with a powerful search engine which allows students to easily find NCEA courses and standards that they are doing, or would like to do, and to set and track achievement goals.

Students and parents have been asking for information about NCEA and achievements to be accessible online, any time, and the App offers that on any mobile device.

NCEA Student makes it possible for students to:

  • Select and set their NCEA credit goals and targets
  • See how they are tracking towards NCEA Levels one, two and three, including Literacy, Numeracy and University Entrance (UE)
  • Set reminders for each standard such as when assignments are due
  • Capture results as they are achieved and cross check with the school or NZQA
  • Personalise with information such as NSN number or details about a course or standard (such as the teacher’s name or timetabled classroom)
  • Customise with different colour coding options and the ability to add photos
  • Use in English and Te Reo Māori.

The App is free to download from the Apple App store and Google Play Store and is available in English and Te Reo Māori. It complements the NCEA Guide App, launched by NZQA in 2014, to assist parents and employers to understand NCEA.

More information for students, teachers, parents and whānau – including images of the App - is available on the website.

There are a range of Apps available that offer information and advice about NCEA and tracking progress – NZQA encourages students to look at all the Apps available with their families and choose the one that is best suited to their needs.

New Deputy Chief Executive - Andrea Gray

Andrea Gray webThe opportunity to influence young people’s experience of learning and being assessed at school was a major motivation for Andrea Gray in taking up the challenge of leading NZQA’s efforts to take exams online.

As NZQA’s new Deputy Chief Executive Digital Transformation, Andrea joins the organisation at an exciting time, as we work towards having all appropriate NCEA examinations online by 2020.

Andrea says she has a very strong affinity with the education sector.

“Both of my parents were teachers and I’m a mother of three boys who have all done NCEA. My own experience of young people in the work place is that they bring amazing capabilities. We need to ensure, that as we evolve as a society, today’s young people are being prepared for jobs that don’t even yet exist and as we move into an increasingly digital environment we have to continue to be able to assess higher order skills. It’s no longer all about what you know but more about how you learn and how you can demonstrate that learning.

“Bringing assessment in to line with what is happening with digitally enabled teaching and learning in the classroom won’t be easy but it is incredibly important as children are living and learning online,” she says.

Andrea plans to spend a good amount of time this year working with the NZQA School Relationship Managers and visiting schools.

“I want to get as close as possible to the people most affected. I feel strongly that in order for me to understand the case for change I need to be out there connecting with the sector.  Apart from its importance, connecting with people we are serving and those we are working alongside to make the change is something I really enjoy doing. ”

Andrea says, although she has only been with NZQA since April this year, so far she has been impressed by the organisation.

“I’ve noticed that people really care about the work we are doing. They know it matters and it’s important we get it right,” she says.

Prior to coming to NZQA, Andrea was the inaugural General Manager, Emissions Trading Scheme in the Environmental Protection Authority.

She has also held a senior role at the Department of Internal Affairs, where she was responsible for the initial development of ‘RealMe’ the Government’s online identity verification service.

Andrea’s technology, business change and relationship management experiences were also developed in her time with IBM New Zealand and The Netherlands, Trade New Zealand, Telecom New Zealand and the E-government Unit of the State Services Commission.

She has a BMus, BA (Linguistics), a Graduate Diploma in Science (Psychology) and an MA with Distinction (Library and Information Studies). She has also completed a number of leadership programmes for senior public servants.

Outside of work Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, singing in Wellington’s Orpheus Choir, chairing the Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand Trust, which is responsible for the New Zealand Youth Choir and the chamber choir Voices New Zealand, going to the movies and exercising on her bike or walking.

Consultation on designs for the 'Universal' Record of Achievement concludes

NZQA is working on an official electronic record of all qualifications a student has achieved. This redesigned record will continue to record National Certificate of Education Achievements (NCEAs) and awards, and by the end of this year, the record will also start to progressively display qualifications achieved across the 10 Levels of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

Feedback from the consultation is still being collated, however some common themes include the interfaces being more user-friendly and the record evolving with learner’s needs.

Deputy Chief Executive Grant Klinkum says feedback indicated being able to expand or contract information kept the page clear and concise and that the ability to show only relevant credits was valued.

“For example, if somebody was to apply for a job as a doctor, it would be unlikely that they needed to show credits earned for food-handling.”

Feedback also shows secondary and tertiary students have different ideas about how the Record should be and how it should look.

“As this project progresses, we will ensure the record evolves in order to support life-long learning and different stakeholder needs,” Grant says.

More information about the 2016 work programme can be found here.

NZQA's refreshed Pasifika Plan 2015-2017

NZMA JUN2014 041The Pasifika Plan sets our contribution to accelerating Pasifika learner achievement.

The Pasifika Plan builds on the successes and achievements of previous Pasifika strategies with step-up actions that reinforce NZQA’s commitment to supporting Pasifika learners, families and communities.

Key step-up actions include: enhanced NCEA information tailored for Pasifika parents and families to help them better support their children’s educational pathway choices; assisting teachers to transform their assessment practices to align with contexts more familiar to Pasifika learners; and the analysis and sharing of good tertiary education practices that enhance Pasifika learner achievement.

The full plan will be available soon on the NZQA website.

Students to experience Silicon Valley

Anua Ao ESV bluePlanning is well underway for the Āmua Ao: Experience Silicon Valley programme – to take secondary school students to California’s Silicon Valley.

The project was trialled last year with 12 rangatahi from Te Wharekura o Mauao in Tauranga. This year around 100 students will have the opportunity to take part in the experience with two trips planned for July and October.

The programme is a partnership between NZQA, Callaghan Innovation, and iwi Māori.

NZQA and Callaghan Innovation have engaged Anne Gibbon, a Stanford University design school graduate to design the programme and administer and deliver it.  Each student’s participation is funded by iwi Māori.

“Like us, iwi are recognising the need for rangatahi to develop 21st Century skills so they are competitive in the job market, and can become innovators and leaders of the future,” says NZQA Deputy Chief Executive Māori, Daryn Bean.

“Around the country, iwi want their own people to be as involved as possible in growing their asset base.  That’s going to require rangatahi who are adaptable problem-solvers.”

Last year’s Silicon Valley trip included visits to Google, Stanford University School, and start-up technology companies.

“We’ve followed the same format for this year’s trips but we’ve got a more extensive ‘on-ramp’ and ‘off-ramp’ experience to maximise the benefits.”

Students who are going on the trip take part in a one-day design thinking workshop and a six-week online course before they go.  They identify a project based around their local community – a problem or an opportunity – which they will be able to consider as part of the wider experience.

“It means they will be much better prepared for their Silicon Valley experience and able to comprehend how the thinking that drives some of the most innovative companies in the world relates to what could be achieved in Aotearoa,” Daryn says.

When the groups return there will be follow-up follow up for students and their whānau, schools and iwi sponsors on ways to multiply the benefits from the experience and reach more rangatahi to encourage them to make informed NCEA choices.  We want all rangatahi to keep their options open and be motivated to achieve NCEA in STEM subjects.

NZQA’s support of the Silicon Valley experience is driven by our aim to support all learners to qualify for the future world. 

NZQA is committed to working with education system agencies to support a 50% lift of Māori and Pasifika student achievement at NCEA level 3 in one or more standards in STEM subject related areas by 2020.

“The skills gained from achievement in STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – are required in more and more emerging jobs.   By supporting greater achievement by Māori and Pasifika in STEM related subjects we support a more robust and skilled future workforce for Aotearoa,” Daryn says.

If you would like to find out more about the programme, contact the Office of the Deputy Chief Executive Māori.

New Deputy Chief Executive - Russell Wood

Russell Wood 1As NZQA moves to increasingly digitise its processes and ensure its services are responsive to a digital, global and connected environment, Russell Wood has taken on the challenge of overseeing its ‘Future State’ programme of work.

As Deputy Chief Executive of the Strategic and Corporate Services Division Russell is also responsible for planning and performance, operational policy and international leadership, finance, information services, people and capability, administration and legal services and internal audit.

Russell came to NZQA from Maritime New Zealand, where he was the General Manager of Corporate Services.

Prior to this he had an extensive career with the New Zealand Fire Service.

As a newcomer to the education sector, Russell has already observed how passionate people are both internally and externally.

“The work we are doing is important to people and, if it’s done right can positively impact their lives. It’s not work we can do alone, we need to take the sector with us.

“My challenge at the moment is to quickly come up to speed. I currently have the luxury to be able to ask the naïve questions.

“One thing I have done recently is to ride along with a School Relationship Manager Manager. I’ve also attended presentations of our ma le Pasifika and NCEA and the Whānau programmes to assist in getting me up to speed. I was a Board of Trustees Chairman when my children were at school but that was in the 90s, I want to understand what is happening in a 21st Century classroom.”

Russell is also looking forward to the international work, supported by his division.

“It’s exciting, we have a growth goal. I’ve been impressed by how well the New Zealand Qualifications Framework is regarded. We are a sought after country to reference against.”

In the coming weeks, Russell says he will continue “doing more listening than talking” as he works on understanding the sector and the organisation and formulating his vision for the role.

Originally from Auckland, Russell enjoys spending time with his partner, his dog and keeping in touch with his two adult children.

He has a Bachelor of Business Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Administration, both from Massey University.

Kia Tū, Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui! Be brave, be bold, be determined!

Careers storywebCareers New Zealand and five Māori businesses are giving rangatahi an inside look at what skills they’ll need to be part of New Zealand's thriving $40 billion Māori economy.

“We want to inspire rangatahi with the opportunities that are possible for them after school and tertiary study, so we've made Māia – a series of five videos that give them an inside look at the jobs and opportunities available across industries,” says Keela Atkinson, Engagement Advisor at Careers New Zealand. 

To give rangatahi a well-rounded view of what it's like to work for a Māori business, the employers share their stories and tips on how to add value and contribute by developing strong employability skills like a good attitude, self-motivation, open-mindedness, resilience, drive and passion.  The videos also include tips on the qualifications young people may need to secure work in these industries. 

“The Māia proverb ‘Kia Tū, Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui’ means to ‘Be Brave, Be Bold, Be Determined’ – exactly the attributes rangatahi need when starting a new job,” says Keela. 

"In every workplace there are people who've had to overcome challenges or prove themselves to others. We're sharing these stories to show rangatahi they can turn obstacles into strengths, and get the edge by applying for work where their strengths and qualifications lie."

Māia gave us a unique opportunity to open the doors to Ngāi Tahu Farming/Whenua Kura (agriculture), Maui Studios Aotearoa, Ariki Creative (creative technology), Hale Compound Conditioning (health and fitness) and He Toki Ki Te Mahi (construction).

The Māia videos are a new way of reaching rangatahi based on the research findings of Project Kāmehameha (, which looked at what's important to youth when using digital tools, including visual interest, story-telling, youthfulness, celebrating Māori success, authenticity and relevance.  The Māia videos enhance Careers New Zealand’s other digital tools and resources, which are designed to inspire, motivate and help rangatahi make informed learning and work choices.

View the Maīa videos at

Digital moderation consultation

NZQA recently sought views on proposed changes to improve its digital moderation services.

Deputy Chief Executive Andrea Gray says NZQA wants to provide more responsive and easier to use moderation services to meet changing assessor needs.

“Our consultation confirmed that learners are increasingly producing materials digitally, and the pace of the move to digital is picking up year-on-year.”

Other key learnings from the consultation included schools wanting more say in the choice of standards for moderation and that educational organisations want to be able to choose when to submit materials for moderation.

A summary report on the consultation outcomes can be accessed from the NZQA website.

As part of the consultation, workshops were held with assessors and a discussion paper was published online – 302 submissions were received on this. We also have an ongoing Digital Moderation focus group, who provided feedback.

As a result of the consultation the project team is now considering feedback in the design of a new moderation tool and associated processes. It is intended that this will be delivered in December 2016, ready for use from 2017.

For more information email

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