Members at a Kua Tae Te Wā protest.

Kua tae te wā

Kua Tae Te Wā | It’s Time

NZEI Te Riu Roa launched our Kua Tae Te Wā | It’s Time campaign at our Annual Conference in October 2017 as teachers and principals in primary and area schools began to think about the negotiation of their collective agreements expiring in 2018.

Kua Tae Te Wā involved eighteen months of tireless campaigning by members and a long period of deadlock. Primary teachers voted to accept their settlement in June 2019. Principals rejected an offer made to them at the same time. A principal focussed campaign continued on until an offer was accepted by members. The settlement of the area principals’ collective agreement took place in August 2019.

The issues

Members were clear during claims development processes that making teaching an attractive and valued profession was the key goal of the campaign. 

Teachers and principals consistently raised high workloads, lack of support for students with additional learning and behavioural needs as well as undervaluing of the profession as key issues that had been exacerbated by nine years of a National Government. There was a crisis in recruitment and retention of teachers and principals. 

Eventually, there was an acknowledged teacher shortage particularly in Auckland that had arisen because of demographic pressure and the lack of workforce planning.

  1. High workloads for principals and teachers
  2. Lack of support for students with additional learning and behavioural needs
  3. Undervaluing of the profession and low wages leading to a crisis in the recruitment of new teachers.

What we learned

The campaign built a confident, new activist base in the union membership additional to the traditional leadership structures. Membership of NZEI Te Riu Roa increased by 10% during the campaign. 

  1. Reinforced our understanding that collective bargaining should be member led and supported by the public.
  2. Built new ways of working at national, regional and worksite level.
  3. Our collective strength and confidence was gained as members stepped up and spoke out.
Arial shot of hundreds of members gathered in Civic Square holding a giant banner. Banner reads: "We back the teachers."

The wins

The Collective Agreements for Primary and Area School Teachers and Principals were signed and ratified in August 2019. While some issues remained, the following wins were represented in these agreements:

  1. A new, unified pay scale for primary teachers and principals with their secondary colleagues – including a new top salary step across the state schooling sector of $90,000, accessible by Q3+, Q4 and Q5 teachers.
  2. Significant pay rises across the board, with all teachers seeing an increase of at least 18.5% by July 2021.
  3. A $1500 one-off payment for NZEI Te Riu Roa members only and a three month delay in passing on of new conditions to non-union members as recognition for member’s tireless campaigning.
  4. Improvement to development opportunities including the lifting of qualification caps as of 1 July 2020 and introducing an annual PLD fund for principals.
  5. Annual increases to the roll-based component, decile payment and staffing-based components of salary totaling between 11% to 19%
  6. Additional resourcing for support staff for very small schools

Other past campaigns

Check out more of the progress that NZEI Te Riu Roa members have achieved together.


Pay Equity for Teacher Aides | Mana Taurite

  • Support Staff
  • Mana Taurite

In September 2016, NZEI Te Riu Roa lodged a pay equity claim on behalf of all teacher aides. In 2019 a settlement was reached and teacher aides received pay increases and other benefits. As part of the terms of settlement, there must regular reviews to make sure that pay equity is maintained. This review is currently underway and will be complete by the end of 2024 in time to inform the bargaining of the Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement.

Learn more