Ministry of Education pay offer disappoints Northland primary school principals

Te Tai Tokerau Principals’ Association president Pat Newman says he will be voting against the offer. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A Northland principal says the Ministry of Education needs to put its hands back in its pockets when it comes to its offer to pay principals more but gradually over two years.

Primary school principals across the country have until today to vote on whether to accept the Ministry of Education’s newest collective offer.

The offer includes three pay increases – the first of which would be at 6 per cent – over two years from July 3, as well as a motor vehicle allowance rate increase from 62 cents per kilometre to 83 cents per kilometre and the entitlement of a $6000 maximum per annum in 2023 and 2024 for each principal to access professional coaching and support from approved providers, plus increased sick leave benefits.

Hora Hora School principal and Te Tai Tokerau Principals’ Association president Pat Newman planned to vote against the offer with a loud no.


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He is concerned the offer will fail to attract people into the profession as there is no focus on wellbeing and the pay increases are too far away time-wise.

“I think the ministry has got away with it scot-free,” he said. “The treasurer needs to put his hands back in his pockets and pull out the rabbits.”

Newman said in terms of wellbeing for principals, there was not enough on offer, particularly around professional supervision.

“Social workers have that as a requirement and I think if there’s any profession that needs it, it’s us,” he said.


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Newman thought the offer may be accepted but “by a very close margin”.

NZEI Te Riu Roa representative for Te Tai Tokerau and Kāeo School principal Paul Barker labelled the offer “disappointing”.

“While some principals are fairly happy they’ll get some extra pay, that’s only part of the equation,” he said.

Barker said he wouldn’t mind betting that over extra pay and more management support, many principals would choose the latter.

He felt the Ministry of Education was “reluctant to provide the mechanism” to make wellbeing improvements for principals he said they know are needed.

Barker recently spoke with the Advocate about the daily difficulties principals of smaller primary schools face. He said not many of the issues raised were solved by the latest pay offer.

Much like Newman, Barker said the timeframe for the pay rise to occur is too long.

It will take a year and a half before the full pay rises come into effect, with the next collective agreement expiring soon after.

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