Cultural leadership allowance for kindergarten

The cultural leadership allowance is available to eligible kaiako who demonstrate cultural expertise and leadership skills. The number of allowances available to allocate is limited.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Boards


In the recent collective agreement negotiations, the parties agreed that a cultural leadership allowance be established to recognise kaiako who hold cultural knowledge and expertise and are often heavily relied upon as the ‘go-to’ cultural leader in their kindergarten or association when tamariki, colleagues and/or the wider kindergarten or association community need support and guidance on cultural matters.  

The intended purpose of establishing the cultural leadership allowance is to:

  • recognise individual kaiako leadership and expertise in Te Ao Māori
  • build the cultural capability required of all kaiako
  • help retain and further cultivate Māori specialist expertise, knowledge and cultural leadership that already exists in kindergartens.

The introduction of a cultural leadership allowance will provide the opportunity to recognise the mahi already being done in many kindergartens and/or the wider kindergarten association or community by those staff with extensive cultural knowledge and cultural capabilities.

Cultural leadership allowance for primary and area school teachers (Māori and Pacific)


Principles of eligibility to allocate the cultural leadership allowance  

The cultural leadership allowance matrix is guided by and supports the four key principles of Te Whāriki:

  • Whakamana – Empowerment.
  • Kotahitanga – Holistic development.
  • Whānau Tangata – Family and community.
  • Ngā Hononga – Relationships.

Te Whāriki [PDF, 4.4 MB]

Cultural leadership allowances will be allocated on a permanent basis from 28 January 2024. Kindergarten associations will operate a transparent application process for the allowance that will be proactively published within the association in early 2024.

Best practice guidance for employers

The cultural leadership allowance is available to all kaiako who demonstrate the cultural expertise and leadership skills described in the matrix below. But, as the number of allowances available to allocate is limited, and as there are some senior leadership roles in kindergartens specifically for the purpose of improving cultural leadership and expertise (such as the Pouhere Ako Māori roles), it may be appropriate for employers to prioritise allocation of the available allowances to teachers who do not currently receive compensation for cultural leadership and expertise.

Each allowance will be $5,000 per annum and is paid at the substantive rate to both part time and full-time teachers. But with the agreement of the employer, 1 cultural leadership allowance and associated responsibilities may be equally shared between 2 teachers in large associations with 5 or more allowances, in which case the allowance will be split between them.

The Ministry of Education, NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Kindergarten Association employers have agreed that the 100 available cultural leadership allowances will be allocated on the basis of 1 allowance per kindergarten association so that every association holds at least 1, and then distributed proportionally based on the number of kindergartens in each association. This method results in an automatic distribution of 26 of the 100 allowances (1 per kindergarten association), and then proportionally distributes the remaining 74 allowances based on the size of the associations, increasing by increments of 5. The distribution of allowances will be reviewed every 3 years in line with the collective negotiations cycle, to make sure it remains reflective of the structure of the kindergarten sector.

Table of allocations by kindergarten association

Kindergarten Association Number of kindergartens Number of allowances



Auckland 107 6
Canterbury-Westland/Kids First 66 6

Central North Island/Central Kids

52 6
Counties Manukau 22 5
Dannevirke 2 1
Dunedin 24 5
Geraldine 1 1
Gisborne 10 2
Heretaunga 16 4
Hutt City 20 5
Marlborough 7 2
Napier 16 4
Nelson Tasman 21 5
Northern Auckland/Kaitiakiki 14 3
Northland 25 5
Oamaru 5 1
Ruahine 25 5
South Canterbury 13 3
Southland 24 5
Taranaki 24 5
Tauranga/Inspired 25 5
Te Aroha 3 1
Waikato 29 6
Waimate 2 1
Westport 1 1
Whānau Manaaki 108 6

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible, kaiako must:

  • be employed in a permanent or fixed term position of 6 months or more under the KTCA or the most recent, equivalent Individual Employment Agreement (IEA)
  • have met the professional standards relevant to their current position
  • be able to demonstrate to their employer that they are providing cultural expertise and leadership in the following settings, as per the cultural leadership allowance matrix:
    • association-wide leadership – supporting staff
    • association-wide leadership – supporting tamariki
    • community leadership.

Cultural leadership allowance matrix

Mana atua (Wellbeing)

Association-Wide Leadership – Staff Association-Wide Leadership – Tamariki Community Leadership
Advises leadership team to make sure culturally responsive practice where necessary. Provides pastoral care for Māori tamariki. Leads community engagement hui with whānau, hapū and iwi groups, including connecting with specific whānau to encourage engagement.
  Utilises Māori health concepts to help tamariki understand how to care for themselves and others. Supports kaiako and works with whānau to address issues from a specific cultural background based on their own expertise.

Mana reo (Communication)

Association-Wide Leadership –Staff   Association-Wide Leadership –Tamariki Community Leadership
Organising and/or leading pōwhiri and mihi whakatau processes, either as kai kōrero or kai karanga, or by organising the set-up (including kai).

Teaching and leading waiata.


Communicating in te reo Māori with whānau and the wider community.

Leading te reo Māori lessons for colleagues, or other professional learning and development.

Teaching tamariki basic pōwhiri related processes to enable participation.

Collecting and retelling local Māori stories and history.


Helping tamariki express themselves using te reo Māori.


Mana aotūroa (Exploration)

Association-wide leadership –Staff   Association-wide leadership –Tamariki Community leadership
Develops processes, guidelines and/or examples to embed tikanga concepts like Kaitiakitanga to reframe kindergarten and/or association policies. Helping teach tamariki to understand their environment, and how to care for it from a Māori-centric perspective. Connecting the kindergarten or association to local whenua and the local kaitiaki.

Mana tangata (Contribution)

Association-wide leadership –Staff   Association-wide leadership –Tamariki Community leadership
Provides expert advice, guidance, and support to kaiako with a specific Māori lens. Helping tamariki and their whānau understand the concept of whakapapa and their own whakapapa connections. Key relationship holder (or one of) between the kindergarten or association and local marae, hāpu, iwi and mana whenua.

Mana whenua (Belonging)

Association-wide leadership –Staff   Association-wide leadership –Tamariki Community leadership
Understanding and implementing locally specific tikanga in the association, including developing processes or guidelines. Grounding tamariki in the everyday experience of their culture. Understanding and implementing measures to meet priorities of local iwi.
Organising and/or leading noho marae.   Connecting and liaising with local communities and/or leaders, such as marae, hāpu, iwi, mana whenua.
    Whakawhanaungatanga links created with local whānau.

Cultural leadership allowance matrices in list format

Best practice guidance for employers

The cultural leadership allowance matrix should be used by applicants and employers in the process to determine who is allocated an allowance.

Applicants will need to demonstrate to their employer how they provide cultural expertise and leadership in line with the matrix.

The matrix is intended as a guidance framework. Employers can use knowledge of their kindergarten association context, including Māori whānau and wider community needs to add to this framework as necessary.

Kindergarten associations will operate a transparent application process for the cultural leadership allowance that will be proactively published by each association in early 2024. This process will clearly outline how each association will make sure a robust consideration process of all applications received, and details like the deadline for when applications need to be made to the employer. Associations may consider it appropriate to translate their application process and publish this in te reo Māori as well as the English language.

Applicants are encouraged to have support when applying for this allowance. This may include nominations for cultural leadership recognition in their kindergarten association coming from colleagues, parents and/or whānau members, or applicants having whānau or wider community representation when explaining to their employer how they provide cultural expertise and leadership in line with the matrix.

To make sure informed decisions are made when determining who is allocated an allowance, employers are encouraged to utilise community networks, knowledge, and expertise where appropriate, particularly with local Māori whānau, hapū and iwi leaders.

Annual reporting will be completed and shared with NZEI Te Riu Roa about the uptake of cultural leadership allowances across associations. This will include the number of applications received and granted.  

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback