Project Details

An 18-month Wellington Institute of Technology project that examined the impact of three successive tertiary education strategies (implemented between 2002 and 2015) on support for Pacific learners offered by tertiary institutions.


The project aimed to answer the following two research questions.

  • How have government strategy documents influenced institutional strategies and organisational change within tertiary education institutions to support the participation and success of Pasifika learners?
  • What are the perceptions of tertiary education institutions on how the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and other government agencies have incentivised and supported these organisational changes?


The methodology of the research project featured:

  • a content analysis of the three successive Tertiary Education Strategies to generate data on the policy intentions of successive government strategies, the actions recommended and the resources made available to achieve change
  • a comprehensive review of documentation produced by government and tertiary organisations was also conducted, involving analysing of charters, investment plans, annual reports, to investigate organisational responses
  • interviews with senior managers responsible for Pacific learners.



Penny Fairbrother

Project Leader

Wellington Institute of Technology

Tim Allen

Wellington Institute of Technology

Neil Ballantyne

Private Contractor

Dr John Horrocks

Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec)

Kerese Manueli

Wellington Institute of Technology

Aleki Silao

Wellington Institute of Technology

Amanda Torr

Private Contractor




$70,000.00 (excl GST)

$70,000.00 National Project Fund

Key Findings

Findings on strategy implementation

  • Pasifika objectives within each of the strategies were considered to be an important signal to Tertiary Education Institutions that success for Pasifika learners was a significant and continuing government priority.
  • The three Tertiary Education Strategies were seen as an important enablers of change.
  • The objectives raised the priority for action to support Pasifika learners, unlocked resources for Pasifika initiatives and promoted the inclusion of Pasifika priorities on the strategic agendas of TEIs.
  • It was noted, however, the influence of the strategies on Pasifika learning support was only one of a number of internal and external, and local and national influences on enhancing success for Pasifika learners.

Overall findings on strategy impact

  • The three government strategies charted shifts in the emphasis of government objectives for Pasifika learners over time.
  • There were some shifts in emphasis, especially towards learning at higher levels in the second and third strategy. But there were also continuities and a consistent focus on increasing participation.
  • National data on the overall performance of TEIs with regard to Pasifika participation, retention and completions from 2001 to 2009 (Ministry of Education, 2011a) suggested a mixed report card; a steady improvement and a narrowing of the gap between Pasifika and non‐Pasifika in terms of participation rates.
  • Pasifika retention and completion rates showed only a slight improvement.
  • Completion rates were of particular concern, with five‐year completion rates in 2005 18 percent lower than non‐Pasifika completion rates.

Key Recommendations

Understand how policy is implemented | There is a need to pay attention not only to what gets written in policy‐related documents, but also to what key policy players actually do. Real world policy analysis also recognises that policy is not just a top‐down process, but involves a complex web of interactions at every point in the decision‐making chain.


Success for Pacific Learners: The Impact of Tertiary Education Strategies

A report prepared by Dr John Horrocks, Neil Ballantyne, Aleki Silao, Kerese Manueli and Penny Fairbrother. 

(PDF, 3.15 MB, 54-pages).

  • 12 July 2012
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