Students from Mana College in Wellington were the first in the country to hear of the government's changes to NCEA today. One highlight was the removal of the $76.70 NCEA fee, which affects around 168,000 secondary school students.
The National Certificate of Educational Achievement or NCEA plays a pivotal part in the lives of students across Aotearoa.
Mana College student Maddy Vai-Little says, "It's just less stress and pressure in what [parents] already have to deal with, uniforms and stuff like that, so less stress for everyone. There's a lot of students who cant' handle being under pressure, including myself."
Associate Minster of Education Tracey Martin also announced a planned reduction assessments today, saying over-assessment is causing stress and anxiety among both students and teachers.
Martins says, "Seventeen thousand students a year can't afford to pay the $76.70, so it might seem like a little bit of money but it makes an enormous difference [to] the pressure that some families feel."
Another student, Tyla Mata, supported the announcements.
"It was really 'yep, we gotta do this, we gotta do that, it has to be met by this deadline'," she says.
Other changes include investing and recruiting more fluent te reo Māori-speaking teachers and providing a greater range of teaching materials to better support mātauranga Māori.
"We acknowledge it, we know we need them. I myself did quite a bit of work with resource teachers of Māori before becoming a minister of the Crown," says Martin.
"I am a Māori girl, it is important that Māori descendants know the language," agrees student, Te Kōpurereata Waipara.
Martin says that the changes represent another step in the coalition government's aim of putting the 'free' back into 'free education'.