Source: Ministry of Education, School leaver data
Note: Students could belong to more than one ethnic group so percentages may total more than 100.
Education has an intergenerational impact
In New Zealand, educational achievement persists between generations.
In 2012, the OECD noted that the chance that a young person whose parents have not attained an upper secondary education will attend higher education is limited, and they reported that tertiary students in New Zealand were more likely to have highly educated parents than in any other OECD country (OECD, 2012).
Evidence shows very strong links between education and the transfer of income and other inequality across generations. For children in New Zealand, education is the main way to break the transmission of low incomes across generations (New Zealand Treasury, 2013).
Socio-economic deprivation has a negative effect on educational achievement
Educational achievement is associated with socio-economic background.
The link between a parent's socio-economic status and a child's educational outcome is very high in New Zealand when compared internationally (New Zealand Treasury, 2013).
Children whose parents do not have school qualifications and who live in a socio-economically deprived area have a higher probability of poor educational outcomes than other children in Auckland.
Auckland has a larger number of low decile schools
Auckland has a disproportionate number of low decile schools, for example those rated 1, 2 or 3.
A third (32 per cent) of all decile 1 schools in New Zealand are found in Auckland, while only 21 per cent of New Zealand's schools are in Auckland.
The southern part of Auckland has a substantial concentration of decile 1, 2 or 3 secondary schools.
Māori and Pacific children are more likely than others to attend low-decile schools. As at 1 July 2015, approximately 71 per cent of Auckland's Pacific students and 50 per cent of Māori students attended decile 1, 2 or 3 primary and secondary schools, compared to only six per cent of European/Pākehā students (Auckland Council, 2017).
Read more about school deciles on the EDUCATION.govt.nz website.
Some improvement in educational outcomes in The Southern Initiative area
Significant proportions of Auckland's Māori and Pacific school leavers are from schools in
The Southern Initiative.
In 2014, over a third (38 per cent) of all Māori school leavers and almost half (47 per cent) of all Pacific school leavers (overall, 21 per cent of school leavers) were from schools in this area.
Relatively large proportions of Māori and Pacific young people in the Southern Initiative area are leaving school with low, or no, qualifications, when compared with other ethnic groups, and compared to school leavers from other areas. For example, in 2014, a third (33 per cent) of Māori school leavers left school without NCEA Level 1, as did 19 per cent of Pacific students.
These figures are however an improvement on previous years, particularly among Māori school leavers.
School leaver attainment among school leavers from schools in the Southern Initiative area, by ethnicity (2014)
School leaver attainment among school leavers from schools in the rest of Auckland, by ethnicity (2014)
Source: Wilson, Reid & Bishop (2016) using Ministry of Education data.
Note: Students could belong to more than one ethnic group.
Māori and Pacific young people have poorer educational outcomes
Māori and Pacific young people make up more than a third of Auckland's young people and continue to experience higher levels of disparity in education outcomes than others.
The 2013 OECD economic survey of New Zealand reports that:
"Among the population lacking school qualifications, Māori have nearly double the incidence of people lacking school qualifications as Pākehā/Europeans and quadruple those of Asians, and conversely Māori show much lower rates of tertiary attainment"(OECD, 2013).
Although trends are improving across Auckland, there are significant educational disparities for Māori and Pacific children and young people.
Māori and Pacific young people's tertiary attainment rates, NCEA attainment and early childhood education participation rates have been rising, but they are not catching up to those of other ethnicities (Reid & Rootham, 2016).
There needs to be increased focus in these areas on creating positive outcomes for Māori and Pacific young people.
Focusing on equitable education outcomes
Auckland can create equitable outcomes for all its children and young people. To bring all Auckland's children and young people along on the journey of educational achievement, these indicators of inequitable education outcomes need to improve swiftly.
There needs to be focus in geographic areas with low levels of educational achievement, lower socio-economic areas and higher levels of Māori and Pacific young people.
A strong education system that focuses on creating positive outcomes for all, not just some of its learners, will benefit everyone.
Auckland Council. (2017). I Am Auckland: Status report 2017. Available at
Centre on the Developing Child. (2007) The science of early childhood development: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do. National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University. Available at https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/the-science-of-early-childhood-development-closing-the-gap-between-what-we-know-and-what-we-do/ [accessed 31/10/2017]
Ministry of Education. (2017). ECE Participation Programme Evaluation. Education Counts.
https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/ECE/ece-participation-programme-evaluation [accessed 14/12/2017].
Ministry of Education (2017). Prior participation in early childhood education. Education Counts.
https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/archived/ece2/ece-indicators/1923 [accessed 14/12/2017]
New Zealand Treasury. (2013). Living standards background note: ‘Increasing equity’ Available at
https://treasury.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2017-12/hls-bg-equity-dec15.pdf (PDF 1.8MB) [accessed 31/10/2017 -]
OECD. (2012) Education at a Glance 2012, OECD indicators. OECD Publishing.
OECD. (2013). OECD Economic surveys: New Zealand 2013.
Reid, A and Rootham, E. (2016). A profile of children and young people in Auckland. Auckland Council technical report, TR2016/022. Available at
https://knowledgeauckland.org.nz/media/1284/tr2016-022-profile-of-children-and-young-people-in-auckland.pdd (PDF 2.9MB)
Wilson, R., Reid, A and Bishop, C. (2016). Auckland Plan targets: monitoring report 2015 with data for the Southern Initiative area. Auckland Council technical report, TR2016/007. Available at