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 compliance Main audience Other


  • Kaiārahi i te reo
  • School boards
  • 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.

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?

The investigation phase is now complete. This involved a team of Ministry analysts and NZEI Te Riu Roa members interviewing 18 kaiārahi i te reo and their kaiwhakahaere (often tumuaki).

Following these interviews, we looked at the data we gathered and identified the responsibilities, skills, demands and working conditions of kaiārahi i te reo. We analysed this data to come up with a draft general areas of responsibility (GAR) document that attempts to capture the range of work kaiārahi i te reo do.

Together with NZEI Te Riu Roa, we then sought feedback from the sector through regional hui and online surveys for kaiārahi i te reo to check whether there were any significant gaps in our GAR and gather feedback on the process. Two of these sessions were held online.

We interviewed a range of comparator roles, which are roles that have the same or similar levels of work but are male dominated. The interviews were held to fully understand the work of kaiārahi I te reo including the skills, responsibilities, demands, and working conditions. The comparator roles that were agreed to and used were Iwi Liaison Officers, Fishery Officers, Civil Engineers, Corrections Officers, and Grade D Teacher Aides.

In addition, the terms and conditions from collective agreements, data from claimant and comparator organisations, as well as historical information about the development of the role were analysed to build a full body of evidence.

We will start settlement negotiations with NZEI Te Riu Roa shortly, and final reports and conclusions will be released upon any proposed settlement.

View a copy of the notification letter [DOCX, 155 KB] and factsheet [PDF, 128 KB] that was sent to employees at the start of the claim.

View a copy of the evidence report [PDF, 2.9 MB] of all the information gathered throughout the pay equity process ready for the settlement phase.

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