Hekia Parata not standing for re-election in 2017

By Korōria Taumaunu

The Minister of Education Hekia Parata will not be standing in next year's election. The minister made the announcement today.

The words may be few but they have meaning.

Parata says, “All I can say is that its time.”

Those words capping off her almost 10 years in Parliament. The East Coast raised politician had many portfolios within government, the most important being education. Controversy shortly followed with the establishment of National Standards. The minister acknowledges it was a tough time.

“Was it difficult? Well, what do you think! Of course, it was difficult!”

NZ Prime Minister John Key says, “No matter which minister is in that position, National or Labour it's always been really tough. I think she's done a great job managing that.”

Hekia left the National Party after Don Brash's comments at Orewa. But she would return and become a minister. She has been seen as the face for Māori within National. So who will step in and fill those shoes?

“Let's not forget, there are others who are capable, Nuk, Joe. I am not the only one,” says Parata.

So who will fill her shoes in education? New Zealand First is positive about the prospect of another Māori.

“I think that would be a very interesting prospect and one that should be put to the Prime Minister. I've had discussions with her about education and that would be a very interesting prospect indeed,” says NZ First MP Tracey Martin.

For the minister herself, as the end nears, she seems ready to move on.

“I will see this out, then the bright blue horizon awaits,” says, Parata.

It isn't clear whether Hekia will maintain her portfolios until the election.