Teacher Aide works on painting with a child.

Pay Equity for Teacher Aides | Mana Taurite

Pay Equity for Teacher Aides

In September 2017, NZEI Te Riu Roa lodged a pay equity claim on behalf of all teacher aides, providing evidence that their work is mostly done by women and that it was being undervalued as ‘women’s work’. The pay and conditions of teacher aides did not reflect the work they were doing. Teacher aides today are highly skilled educators, assisting the learning and ensuring the wellbeing of children with often complex medical, physical, learning and/or behavioural needs.

The issues

As with all pay equity claims, this campaign centred on the systemic undervaluing of the work that teacher aides do. The reasons for this were:

  1. The female dominated nature of the teacher aide role within schools
  2. The distributed funding model which put the onus on schools to set teacher aide pay rates from their operations grants
  3. A lack of clear and accessible professional learning and development opportunities for teacher aides, preventing career or pay advancement

The Ask

The claim called for three key outcomes to address the inequality present for teacher aides. 

  1. An increase in pay rates and the creation of an equitable pay scale in line with roles and responsibilities of kaimahi
  2. Recognition of history undervaluing of the work in the form of backpay
  3. Establishing professional learning and development, through funding and by provisioning PLD providers and defined pathways of progression in the profession


The claim lodged by NZEI Te Riu Roa in 2016 stated that due to the issues listed above, teacher aides are likely to be underpaid, warranting further investigation. 

The claim cited the same part of the Equal Pay Act used by Kristine Bartlett and E Tū as precedent for the Aged Care Workers settlement in 2015. The success of this claim laid the foundations for future pay equity claims in the education sector. 

Watch a video overview of the claim process here. 

The Wins

The pay equity settlement for teacher aides was endorsed in 2020. The settlement included pay increases, changes to the way skills are assessed, a new allowance, changes to how much hours can be varied, and the development of career pathways.

  1. Combining the 2019 collective agreement pay rise with the pay equity settlement, teacher aides received pay rises of 23–34% across 2020.
  2. That was an increase of between $4 and $6.60 an hour, recognising the true value of teacher aides’ skills, responsibilities and experience.
  3. These pay increases are funded by the Ministry increasing the operations grant every term – based on actual hours teacher aides work – and then requiring schools to specifically target that money to the teacher aide pay increases.

Other past campaigns

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