A Ngāti Hine leader says while he is pleased with most of the polytech reform plan, he is worried there could be a disconnect between the needs of Northland and the courses offered.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins last week released wide-ranging proposals for strengthening vocational education in New Zealand.

Included in the proposal was the establishment of the NZ Institute of Skills and Technology which would take over programme design and administration for all campuses of what are now 16 separate polytechnics, including NorthTec, and take over enrolling and managing apprentices and industry trainees from what are now 11 industry training organisations (ITOs).

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hine chairman Pita Tipene, who has a background in education, said he was pleased with two thirds of the plan - saying it would remove long-standing competition between NorthTec and ITOs - but was worried it would lead to a disconnect in what courses are offered, and what is actually needed.


"I think we needed change and I think we needed a radical shake-up because the world really is changing around us and our provision of training and skills development needed to keep up.

"I think two thirds of the change is looking good and there's one third I think we need to ensure is responsive to the needs of the people in Tai Tokerau."

As part of the reform, regional leadership groups - which would identify the needs of the local economy and become a key link between local government, employers, iwi and communities - would be formed to ensure there's strong regional influence in the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

But Tipene said he believed a regional leadership group for Tai Tokerau needed to have decision-making powers.

"I think we need to be more than advisory to a central body. We really need some authority in making decisions operationally about what happens up here.

"When it comes to advice - you and I know advice can be taken or ignored," he said.

Tipene said ensuring Te Tai Tokerau had courses which matched the needs of its community was important as vocational training was important in the development of a person.

Public consultation on the reform is open until March 27 and Tipene said we would be having his say.


Meanwhile, a statement from NorthTec regarding the changes is expected this week.