Secondary principals

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

Employment agreements

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

  • the Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement (SPCA), or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the SPCA.

You are covered by the Secondary Principals’ Collective Agreement if your work is covered by this agreement and you’re a member of one of the secondary principals’ unions: the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association (NZPPTA) or the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SPANZ).

You need to sign an individual employment agreement if your work is covered by this agreement but you are not a member of the NZPPTA or SPANZ. The Ministry of Education develops and publishes 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 leadership and realising youth potential - this additional payment recognises the work you do to keep students in school, keep them engaged with learning and help them achieve to their potential.

Tables showing all the salary components and amounts are in clause 3.1 of your collective agreement.

Career structure payment

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 initial, 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 the professional standards are at the end of the agreement.

Secondary schools high priority principals' allowance

The secondary schools high priority principals’ allowance of $3,000pa is paid to principals of secondary schools that the Ministry of Education has identified as needing greater support for recruitment and retention (sometimes called ‘hard to staff’ schools).


Part 5 of your collective agreement covers all your leave entitlements, including annual, sick, parental, bereavement (tangihanga), study, sabbatical and refreshment. Your school can also allow discretionary leave for various activities. Read more about the main types of leave for secondary 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 clause 11.1 of your collective agreement.

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 6.5 and part 6.


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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