Primary principals

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

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Boards

The rights and responsibilities specified in an employment agreement must be adhered to. This page supports boards and primary principals to understand the rights and responsibilities that are associated with their role, as stated in a principal’s employment agreement.

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.

Who’s covered by the PPCA

You’re 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 Te Riu Roa).

Primary Principals’ Collective Agreement 2019-2022

Who’s covered by the individual employment agreement (IEA)

You need to sign an IEA if:

  • your work is covered by the PPCA, but
  • you’re not a member of the NZEI.

The Ministry of Education develops and approves the IEA. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

Primary Principals' Individual Employment Agreement [PDF, 155 KB]

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 set out in clause 5.2 of the collective agreement show your salary components.

Clause 5.2 - Primary Principals' Collective Agreement

Career structure payments

You can also qualify for a salary increase based on the number of years you've been a principal and whether you meet the professional standards.

There are different standards for beginning, developing, experienced and leading principals as set out clause 4.4 and Schedule 2 of the collective agreement.

Clause 4.4 - Primary Principals' Collective Agreement 

Schedule 2 - Primary Principals' Collective Agreement

Your school board is responsible for reviewing your performance and confirming that you qualify for the career payment. 

Performance management 


You may also receive other allowances as follows:

Normal school allowance

Associate teacher allowance

Staffing incentive allowance

Isolation allowance

Māori immersion allowance

Special school principals' allowance


Leave entitlements, including annual, sick, parental, bereavement (tangihanga), study, refreshment and sabbatical leave, are set out in Part 7 of the collective agreement. Your school can also allow discretionary leave for various activities.

Leave for principals and teachers

Other benefits and entitlements

You’re entitled to a superannuation contribution from your employer.

Superannuation for principals and teachers

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

If you're shifting schools

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.

Special terms or conditions (concurrence)

Leaving your job

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.

Medical retirement for principals and teachers

Both you and your school must follow the correct processes and procedures to manage your resignation, dismissal or retirement.

Resignation, dismissal and retirement

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