"I was considering giving up the job" - Otara Tumuaki

By Taroi Black
Tumuaki Marama Hune with students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Piripono in Otara.  Photo/File.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Piripono students stood in solidarity with their tumuaki, who almost left her job frustrated at a lack of support from the Ministry of Education over pay parity and work stress issues.

The Otara school students were part of a national day of support for principals by primary and intermediate schools throughout the country on Friday.

Principal Marama Hune says, “Right now, I'm dealing with some serious issues, all kura kaupapa are. Principals have to deal with most issues at the school, including high demands and a lack of support from the ministry to pay us what we deserve.”

Primary school tumuaki throughout Aotearoa rejected a collective agreement offer from the Ministry of Education in June over pay parity with secondary principals.

“It's okay now, but not long ago I was considering giving up the job because of the lack of support from the ministry, especially for new principals.”

Hune walked into her job over a year ago at a time when her school was facing historic debt of more than $100k.

“There are no programmes to help us know how to do our job, especially dealing with the challenges that come with this position,” she says.

It took MOE five months to respond to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Piripono's request for help to cover their costs. NZEI Te Riu Roa are the union representing principals who believe the ministry should do more.

Union spokesperson Shirley Hakaraia says, “In past years, principals have left because of the stress of the job.”

Next week, tumuaki will vote on whether to increase strike action in order to send a clear message to the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins on where they stand.

“In past years, they would always tell us that this is what we need to do - we need to pay it or repay debt which has been outstanding for ages. So we can't pay for the resources that our children need,” Principal Hune says.

In developments Friday afternoon, NZEI received an offer from the Ministry of Education that includes pay parity with secondary principals across the roll and an annual $300,000 professional development fund for primary principals under a proposed three-year agreement. Plus, members of Te Riu Roa, like Principal Hune, will also receive a lump-sum payment of $1,500.