Media Releases

Disappointing Budget for primary educators

18 May 2023

NZEI Te Riu Roa, the largest education union in Aotearoa, says that this year’s Budget has disappointed primary educators.

It is the second year in a row that school funding has not kept pace with CPI, and there are no investments in teacher pay, additional teacher staffing or specialist staff.

This year’s Budget comes amidst ongoing intense industrial action over longstanding problems in the education sector. NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter says it is disappointing there is little in the Budget to address any of the problems created by decades of under-investment in primary education.

“What we wanted to see was a Budget that looked at crucial issues around staffing, workload relief and decent pay. As a society we will be in bigger debt if we don’t invest in our tamariki and their teachers.”

Tute Mila, a principal at Arakura School in Wainuiomata, said she wanted to see a bigger increase in operations grant funding.

The Budget includes a 3.5% increase which is well below CPI of 6.7%. Schools use these grants to pay for day-to-day running costs and for teacher aide and administrative staff.

“This small increase means insecure work will still be a reality for those staff that are crucial to supporting the diverse learning needs of tamariki in the classroom -- and the staff that do the mahi to make sure a school is run smoothly. Once again, we are being forced to make choices between fixing roofs and paying teacher aides,” says Tute Mila.

For years the union has called for centralised funding for support and admin staff so that their hours are secure.

Tute Mila said it was positive to see the Budget allowed for the continuation of the school lunch programme.

"Having this support for whānau is a positive move, it's just disappointing there isn't a commitment to expand it to other schools."

"We talk a lot about the good will of educators and I feel that this Budget is expecting us to keep running our schools on that goodwill. I feel invisible in terms of the priorities by this government. I'm disappointed," she said.

Mark Potter said the union was pleased to see further investment in Māori medium education towards funding for Māori led education programmes that will support akonga; ending streaming, as well as increases for infrastructure.

"There’s been some really good developments in education because of union action with things like pay equity, curriculum reform, and for the first time in years, a first small step to reduce class size. Now is not the time to slow down. We urge the Government to finish the job."


Primary and area school teachers and principals have gone almost a year without settled collective agreements. While kindergarten teachers voted to settle their collective agreements last week, primary teachers rejected their third offer and are currently voting on whether to take further industrial action. Primary principals are in the middle of a work ban.