Kaiārahi i te reo pay equity claim

Kaiārahi i te reo are currently the subject of a pay equity claim which seeks to ensure that they are receiving equitable remuneration for their work.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Kaiārahi i te reo
  • Boards of Trustees
  • Principals and tumuaki

On 18 June 2020 NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry signed the terms of reference for the Kaiārahi i te reo pay equity claim which formally started the investigation to find out if the predominantly female kaiārahi i te reo workforce in our schools is undervalued and underpaid.

Photo of a kaiarahi i te reo

About Kaiārahi i te reo

Kaiārahi i te reo play an important role in the education workforce, working alongside teachers to support Māori language and to advise on tikanga. They are recognised for their involvement within the community and their knowledge in te reo and tikanga. Kaiārahi i te reo are noted as an important resource for language development and preservation.

The kaiārahi i te reo role was established in 1985 in response to the rising number of kōhanga reo graduates enrolling into local primary schools and new ‘Taha Māori’ curriculum requirements. This growth in the need for schools to provide an environment that nurtures Māori language and practices, coupled with the lack of trained teachers fluent in te reo Māori meant that the introduction of kaiārahi i te reo was crucial to support teachers and enhance the performance and achievement of Māori students.

Today in New Zealand, kaiārahi i te reo continue to be considered specialist support personnel with the fundamental purpose of the role remaining unchanged through the decades. There are currently between 60 and 70 kaiārahi i te reo working in primary, intermediate, secondary schools and kura.

How did the claim come about?

NZEI Te Riu Roa raised a pay equity claim with the Secretary for Education on behalf of kaiārahi i te reo.

The claim states that the work of kaiārahi i te reo is undervalued because they are currently and historically mostly women. It was therefore possible that some aspects of the skills, knowledge and interests required to carry out the work were less visible, and so not always recognised and equitably remunerated.

The claim seeks to uncover these skills, consider the work done alongside responsibilities, demands and working conditions and compare them against male dominated comparators.

What’s happening now?

A lot of complex work goes into the joint pay equity process. Firstly, the teams made up of Ministry analysts and NZEI Te Riu Roa members interview several kaiārahi i te reo and their direct supervisors (often principals) to find out more about their work. The interview teams have visited 17 schools and interviewed 19 employees. This stage of the claim process has now been completed.

The next stage involves the teams looking at the data they’ve gathered. They will identify the responsibilities, skills, demands and working conditions of kaiārahi with a focus on the skills that are less visible, and not always recognised.

These can be so called soft skilled like emotional effort, communication and social skills, taking responsibility for the wellbeing of others, cultural knowledge and sensitivity.

Alongside the information gained from the interviews, the analysts research the historical movement of women into the paid workforce and collate and analyse data from job descriptions, collective agreements and other relevant documents.

We are also starting the comparator process, working with NZEI Te Riu Roa to research which potential comparators would be most suitable for the claim.

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