Primary principals

Find out about the pay, allowances, benefits and other entitlements available to principals employed in primary schools.

Employment agreements

Primary principals in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by:

  • the Primary Principals’ Collective Agreement (PPCA), or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the PPCA.

You are covered by the PPCA if your work is covered by this agreement and you’re a member of the primary principals’ union, the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZEI).

You need to sign an individual employment agreement if your work is covered by the PPCA but you are not a member of the NZEI. The Ministry of Education develops and approves the individual employment agreement. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

Your pay

Your pay is made up of several parts:

  • Roll-based salary – the more students in your school, the higher your base pay.
  • Staffing-based salary – an additional amount based on the number of staff in your school.
  • Decile payment - if your school is in deciles 1 to 4, you will get an addition to your annual pay.
  • Payment for leading literacy and numeracy – this additional payment recognises the work you do to lead, develop and implement programmes to increase literacy and numeracy.

Tables showing all the salary components are in clause 5.2 of your collective agreement.

Career structure payments

You can also qualify for a salary increase based on the number of years you have been a principal and whether you meet the professional standards. There are different standards for beginning, developing, experienced and leading principals. Your board is responsible for reviewing your performance and confirming that you qualify for the career payment.

Clause 4.4 of your collective agreement sets out the criteria for the career payment and schedule 2 contains the professional standards.


You can also receive other allowances, which are added to your salary.

Normal school allowance

You will receive a normal school allowance of $2,000pa if your school is defined as a normal or model school, which means it is a school specifically used for initial teacher training.

Associate teacher allowance

If you are involved in the practical training of teacher trainees, you can be paid an associate teacher allowance. The amount is $51.60 for each week that you have atrainee in your class for at least 4 teaching days. Read the full criteria in clause 6.2.3 of your collective agreement.

You can’t get this allowance as well as the normal school allowance.

Staffing incentive allowance

You’ll be paid an allowance of $1,000pa if your school qualifies for the staffing incentive allowance.

Isolation allowance

You will receive an isolation allowance if your school is in an area the Ministry has defined as isolated. This means you live in a place with a population of less than 300, and you are more than a certain distance from a population centre of more than 1,500 people. There are different categories and rates for the allowance, depending on the distance.

  • Find out which schools qualify for an isolation allowance.
  • Read more about isolation allowances in clause 6.3 and find out the amounts that are paid in appendix 1 of your collective agreement.

Māori immersion allowance

If you are required to use te reo Māori in Māori immersion classes at levels 1, 2 or 3, you may qualify for a Māori immersion allowance of $4,000pa. You can find out more about this allowance in clause 6.2.6 of your collective agreement. The levels of Māori immersion are defined in schedule 1 of the agreement.

Special school principals allowance

If you are a principal of a special residential or non-residential school, you will receive an allowance of $3,000pa (for residential schools) or $2,000pa (for non-residential schools).


Part 7 of your collective agreement covers all your leave entitlements, including annual, sick, parental, bereavement (tangihanga), study, refreshment and sabbatical. Your school can also allow discretionary leave for various activities. Read more about the main types of leave for primary principals.

Other benefits and entitlements

If you move schools because you’re promoted or you move to work in a 'hard to staff' school, you may qualify for a transfer and removal payment to help cover your costs.

If you have a certain type of illness or injury, your time off isn’t taken off your sick leave balance. This is called disregarded sick leave.

The Ministry of Education is able to approve different terms or conditions than those in the employment agreements, such as:

  • payments or benefits for taking on extra duties and responsibilities
  • 'sensitive payments', such as work-related Koru Club membership, home phone and internet rental, and limited use of a school vehicle for private purposes.

This approval is often called concurrence. School boards must apply for concurrence before offering you different terms or conditions.

If you have a terminal or serious illness that means you can no longer work as a principal, you may be eligible for medical retirement.

Leaving your job

To resign (or retire) from your job as principal, you need to give your school board 2 months’ written notice.

If you feel that you are being forced to resign or your work situation has become intolerable and you feel you have no choice but to leave, you may have grounds for an employment dispute. There is more information about this in your collective agreement – clause 8.8 and clause 10.1 and appendix 3.

If your board dismisses you from your job as principal, they must give you 2 months’ written notice and follow the procedures set out in the employment agreement – clause 10.2 and part 8.


KiwiSaver is the superannuation scheme available to new and existing principals. The employer contribution is currently 3% of your gross earnings, and you can choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your pay.

You may already belong to a superannuation scheme that is closed to new members, such as:

  • the Teachers Retirement Savings Scheme and the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme, each with an employer contribution of up to 3% of your gross salary
  • the Government Superannuation Fund, which has an employer contribution of 6.5% or 7% of your gross salary
  • the National Provident Fund, which has an employer contribution of up to 3% of your gross salary.

If you belong to one of the old schemes and KiwiSaver, employer contributions are only paid to KiwiSaver if the amount paid into the other scheme is less than the KiwiSaver contribution of 3%. So if the employer contribution to your other fund is 4% you will not get any payment into KiwiSaver as well. However, if the employer contribution to your other fund is only 2%, you will also get 1% paid into your KiwiSaver scheme.

The KiwiSaver (external link) website has everything you need to know about KiwiSaver.

You can find out more about the other schemes on the State Services Commission (external link) website. If you have any questions, contact the provider directly.


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