Comments about the NZQA 2012 ESS External standards
comments in red from P Keestra

2.5 Extreme events
Q1 seemed straightforward; I had a q about Napier earthquake in one of my practice exams
Q2: reasonably straightforward, and I had a q about Pupuke in my practice exam (we visited the lava flows). However, the claim that it was formed by an underwater eruption may confuse some students who may think it means the eruption was submarine, where features such as pillow lavas would be present. Presumably QA want to link explosive activity to water, which is usually groundwater in the Auckland eruptions.
Q3. Straightforward; again I put in a similar question about Kermadec Trench in a practice exam

2.6 Stars and Planets
Q1 - although the students would not have heard of Alpha Mensae, the stated information that it is similar to our Sun should be adequate information
Q2 - HR diagram, straightforward re Sirius A, although I am not quite sure how much detail they are looking for in distinguishing MS stars from 'bright giants'
Q3 - hopefully the students using this wiki for infor will know that our Moon was formed in a Hadean collision and contrast that with Mars' moons as either captured asteroids or material thrown into orbit from asteroid collisions (several of my students said they mentioned how Mars' moons were thought to be in decaying orbits). In terms of contrasting moons in the question, it might have been more reasonable to use an icy moon from the outer system to compare/contrast, as this more clearly contrasts capture with collision as mechanisms for moon formation. Given the diversity of theory about planetary system formation, QA are going to struggle to find questions with unambiguous answers.

2.7 Earth Physical Systems
Q1 - to expect teachers to infer from the AS that "reflection, transmission and absorbtion" includes total internal reflection arising from differences in refraction is completely unreasonable, but I guess that QA will fob this off with a lame excuse as usual. Unless students were doing the L2 Physics standard on waves I suspect they would struggle with this (even my physics students would find it hard)
Q2 - Clouds; seems straightforward
Q3 - Sunsets, also straightforward.
Why all 3 questions about radiation and the atmosphere? Why no questions on conduction or convection of heat, or the hydrosphere or geosphere? Too narrow.