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-NZEI), or
  • the Primary Principals' (PPCBU) Collective Agreement (PPCA-PPCBU); or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the PPCA.

Who’s covered by the PPCA-NZEI

You’re covered by the PPCA-NZEI if:

  • your work is covered by this agreement, and
  • you’re a member of the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZEI Te Riu Roa).

Primary Principals’ (NZEI) Collective Agreement 2023-2025

Who’s covered by the PPCA-PPCBU

You’re covered by the PPCA-PPCBU if:

  • your work is covered by this agreement, and
  • you’re a member of the Primary Principals' Collective Bargaining Union.

Primary Principals’ (PPCBU) Collective Agreement 2022-2025 

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

You need to sign an IEA if:

  • your work is covered by either of the collective agreements, but
  • you’re not a member of the NZEI TRR or PPCBU.

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

Primary Principals' (NZEI) Individual Employment Agreement(external link)

Primary Principals' (PPCBU) Individual Employment Agreement(external link)

Guidance about union membership for primary principals

Information to help you to understand what employment agreement you are covered.

Guidance about union membership for primary principals

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.
  • Equity Index (decile) payment - if your school has an Equity Index number of 478 to 569, 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.

Part 5 of the collective agreements shows your salary.

Part 5 - Primary Principals' (NZEI) Collective Agreement

(external link)Part 5 - Primary Principals' (PPCBU) 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 in Part 4 of the collective agreements.

Clause 4.4 - Primary Principals' (NZEI) Collective Agreement 

Schedule 2 - Primary Principals' (NZEI) Collective Agreement

Clause 4.4 - Primary Principals' (PPCBU) Collective Agreement

Schedule 2 - Primary Principals' (PPCBU) 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.
  • Bus controller's allowance.
  • Associate teacher allowance.
  • Staffing incentive allowance.
  • Principal recruitment allowance.
  • Isolation allowance.
  • Māori immersion teaching allowance.
  • Special school principals' allowance.
  • Pacific bilingual immersion teaching allowance.
  • Cultural leadership allowance.

These allowances are set out in Part 6 of the collective agreements:

Part 6: Primary Principals' (NZEI) Collective Agreement

Part 6: Primary Principals' (PPCBU) Collective Agreement

Professional Coaching and Wellbeing Support Funding

The purpose of the funding is to ensure primary principals' leadership development and wellbeing.

For each of 2023 and 2024, primary principals will be able to access funding of up to $6,000 per annum for professional coaching and support for their leadership role.

Clause 4.8 - Primary Principals' (NZEI) Collective Agreement

Clause 4.8 - Primary Principals' (PPCBU) Collective Agreement

Accessing the funding 

The $6,000 in funding will be a line item tagged in primary schools’ operational funding grants for the purposes of professional coaching and support for primary principals. Each school’s use of the funding should be in accordance with its policies relating to professional development and sensitive expenditure. It may be necessary for the principal and the Board to agree a new policy for the fund if existing policies do not sufficiently cover the use of the fund. If required, further advice can be sought from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA). Principals and Boards may also wish to refer to the Ministry’s Financial Information for Schools Handbook (FISH) and relevant guidance from the Office of the Auditor General (see links under further reading below). 

Choosing your provider(s) 

The Ministry of Education recommends: 

Where possible, schools engage providers that are appropriately qualified and accredited; and 

Use of the fund focuses on supporting the principal’s development in their capacity as the chief executive of the school in terms of management and control (i.e. management and organisational executive leadership). 

The fund complements the annual career allowance already available to primary principals, as well as other types of professional development funding such as centrally funded PLD relating to curriculum and pedagogy. The funding may also be relevant to principals’ Professional Growth Cycle (PGC). 

The funding is a minimum entitlement and does not prevent principals and their Boards agreeing to additional coaching and support in excess of $6,000. 

Annual declaration 

In addition, note that principals will be required to make an annual declaration to their Boards regarding their uptake and use of the funding. The declaration shall be made no later than the last day of Term 4 each year. The declaration is both because the Board is the principal’s employer and responsible for considering and supporting their wellbeing, but also for audit purposes. All state and state-integrated schools are funded by public money and the Board has ultimate accountability for how this money is spent. As with all spending, principals and their Boards should have regard to Government Procurement Rules, follow best practice, seek to achieve public value for money, and avoid any conflicts of interest when choosing how to use their professional coaching funding. 

More reading


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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