NZEI Te Riu Roa says fixing the pay gap for kaiako must extend to Kōhanga Reo

19 September 2020

NZEI Te Riu Roa says Kōhanga Reo kaiako can’t afford to be left out in the cold when pay and funding gaps in ECE are addressed.

This week Labour joined the Green Party in including pay parity for early childhood teachers in their election pledges. The political parties' pay parity commitment would address the pay gap for most ECE teachers, but this would not extend to Kōhanga Reo kaimahi.

The lack of fair pay and funding “has been a problem for far too long,” says Kōhanga Reo kaiako Tira Toki. “When we compare ourselves to mainstream ECE, we don’t see any differences in the workload, in the positions, in the ratios, in the licensing… all of that.”

While ECE teachers are paid up to 49% less than their primary and Kindergarten counterparts, many Kōhanga Reo kaiako are paid far less again – with some not even receiving the minimum wage.

“We need our indigenous skills and qualifications to be recognised so we are paid what we are worth", Toki says.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford agrees. “This week, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, we’re especially reminded of the significance of the work our Kōhanga Reo kaimahi do."

“In addition to supporting the learning needs of our tamariki like any other kaiako, they have specialist cultural knowledge. Since the establishment of Kōhanga Reo these kaimahi have played a key role in passing te reo on to new generations.”

Earlier this year, NZEI Te Riu Roa launched Te Ake Rautangi, a campaign calling for Kōhanga Reo kaimahi to be paid in a way that recognises their value and upholds their mana.

“I mean, Kōhanga Reo is gorgeous. The mahi and the tamariki are just beautiful. But when you look at the material sides of things – we don’t have much,” says Toki.

For more information: