Minister of Education Hekia Parata will move to Wainui Beach, Gisborne and take up paddle boarding after she finishes her role in government next year.

"I have a house at Wainui. I'll be spending a lot more time there. My goal for the summer is to learn to stand-up paddle board," Parata said.

The minister, who grew up in Ruatoria and attended Ngata Memorial College, was in the region on Friday visiting six Ruatoria and Tolaga Bay schools.

It was a special trip for the minister, who visited her sister and Tolaga Bay Area School principal, Nori Parata, while travelling with her sister and deputy secretary of the Ministry of Education Apryll Parata.

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"In five years in this role, this is the first time I've been able to diary an official visit to all the schools in this region," she said.

During her visit Parata met with principals and board of trustee members, discussing challenges each school faces.

"We have been talking about the challenges they are facing in terms of special education, attracting more teachers to live in the area, and the opportunities out there for their students."

The minister said one of her focuses has been improving school facilities, and $882.5 million was set aside for school infrastructure in Budget 2016. This included an allocation of funding to build two new classrooms at Kaiti School.

Parata, who has been Minister of Education for five years, said that levels of student achievement in state education have improved in recent times.

"Education across New Zealand is a lot more data-driven now. There is also a lot more collaboration between schools," she said.

While Tolaga Bay Area School board member Alison Waru agreed that achievement has increased across schools, improving achievement at her school continued to be a challenge.

"The number of students in the ARONA (At Risk Of Not Achieving) programme [is an ongoing challenge]. It's getting higher and younger," she said.

Waru said the school is committed to reducing the number of students in this programme through support services.

- Gisborne Herald