Media Releases

Early childhood education teachers strike over essential funding

06 Nov 2023

Kaiako and kaimahi from around 100 community early childhood education centres across the motu covered by the ECE Collective Agreement will take strike action for the first time ever on Wednesday 8 November after voting last month to take industrial action.

The teachers, who are part of the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement (ECECA), say their negotiations have reached an impasse. This is due to not-for-profit, community-based services not being funded enough by the government to support the high quality ECE they deliver. More funding is needed to support better teacher: child ratios and more experienced and qualified kaiako.

NZEI Te Riu Roa ECE representative Megan White, manager at Capital Kids cooperative childcare centre, says the current system is broken.

“The Government’s current ECE funding arrangement is a ‘one size fits all’ model, set to the minimum teacher: child ratios. Funding rates do not reflect many of these community services that provide better than minimum ratios, and more experienced qualified kaiako.

"Most of our employers are parent boards and we know this impacts families, so we are not taking strike action lightly. Both we and our parents know that the ultimate answer to this crisis lies in the government’s hands. Members want to send an urgent signal to our communities and to the incoming government about the need to fix ECE, for the sake of our tamariki.

“It is well-known that the first 1000 days are the most important in a child’s life. Most of our centres have long-serving kaiako providing low teacher: child ratios because we know this gives tamariki the individualised education and care they need in their early years.

“Currently, ECECA services are effectively penalised for prioritising high-quality ECE for tamariki and whānau,” says Ms White.

Over the last decade many ECECA services have closed, others have had forced changes to operating models or have had to compromise their commitment to better teacher: child ratios because of the funding restraints.

In this same time period, the ECECA has gone from a 3-year to a 2-year to a 1-year collective agreement with the government. The most recent Agreement was for a 6-month term as both members of NZEI Te Riu Roa and Te Rito Maioha employers have waited for movement in funding rates that recognise their commitment to quality.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President, Mark Potter, says ECE funding and policy settings have been unstable through successive governments which has had a disproportionate impact on ECECA centres.

“During the latest round of negotiations, NZEI Te Riu Roa members were unable to reach an agreement with Te Rito Maioha employer representatives that met members’ claims.

“This strike is not an action that members take lightly, but they have been left with no option. ECE kaiako are passionate about offering the best learning environment for our tamariki.

“We are asking the government to deliver additional funding that prioritises quality, supports full pay parity; and holds tamariki and whānau at its heart,” says Mr Potter.



Centres affected by the strike will close from 1pm-8pm on Wednesday 8 November.