Specialist Māori educator role could get significant pay increase

Those working in a specialist Māori educator role could get a significant pay increase in a new proposed pay equity settlement, after it was found they were being underpaid compared to male-dominated workforces doing work of the same value.

The Ministry of Education and NZEI announced the proposed pay equity settlement for those working as kaiārahi i te reo on Tuesday.

Around 80 staff hold the role, which could receive pay increases ranging from 77% to 83% if the proposed settlement is accepted.

Kaiārahi i te reo work in a support role for the development and preservation of te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori within kura and schools.

Someone working in that role who is currently earning $23.03 per hour would get an increase to $41.31 per hour under the proposed settlement.

It's the result of an 18 month investigation by the Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa which found the role had been underpaid, with the workforce largely being wahine Māori.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday said the proposal recognised “historic undervaluation” of a key workforce.

“Pay equity is a really important process,” Hipkins said.

“There’s no question that our te reo teachers fall into that category. They’ve waited a long time for this.”

Kaiārahi i te reo also contribute to creating inclusive and safe spaces by growing the cultural capability of ākonga and kaimahi in kura and schools.

Āwhina Kihi, kaiārahi i te reo, said it’s a surreal moment.

“It’s very humbling to still be recognised and acknowledged, and feel valued for the work that we do.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa will consult with employees covered by the claim for the next two weeks. They will then vote whether to accept, or decline the offer.