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Union Fights Back Against Threat To Remove Māori Language Teaching Allowances

Teachers will resist the new Government’s threat to remove remove allowances that recognise teachers with skills and specialist knowledge of te reo and Māori tikanga, their union NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

Under their collective agreements, teachers teaching in te reo Māori receive a Māori immersion teaching allowance, and this year a new cultural allowance was won by both kindergarten and primary and area school teachers to recognise teachers who support their colleagues to build cultural capability and expertise across their schools.

The new allowances were voted on by large majorities of the sector’s 30,000 teachers as part of new collective agreements settled earlier this year.

In a statement to Radio New Zealand, Minister of Finance Nicola Willis called the payments “bonuses” and said she was seeking advice “on how we could stop these bonuses being negotiated into future collective agreements". She said the Government was “left with little choice but to implement them given they are contained in binding collective agreements” but would not support them when collective agreements come up for re-negotiation in 2025.

NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Stephanie Mills says it was undermining and insulting to kaiako to suggest the allowances were some kind of bonus.

“To be clear, these allowances recognise expertise and specialist skills. They are essential to support teacher learning at all levels to meet the needs of students and school’s commitments to Te Tiriti under the Education Act.

“It’s about ensuring the system upholds the culture, language and identity of tamariki, te reo me ngā tikanga, which is exactly what these allowances recognise.”

Mills says there is no question the allowances need to stay to value the contribution of teachers’ specialist knowledge and to ensure teachers stay in education by fairly rewarding their expertise.

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