Kōhanga Reo working to achieve fair pay agreement for staff

By Taroi Black

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust admits a major impediment to funding kaiako fairly comes from “numerous clashes” with the Ministry of Education.

The clashes date back nearly 20 years with the trust’s attempt to get its three-year diploma, Tohu Whakapakari, recognised by the Ministry as a teaching qualification. The confusion, it seems lies in the nature of Tohu Whakapakari, with Education Ministry acting deputy secretary Māhina Melbourne telling Te Āo Māori News the trust didn’t intend it to be a “qualification.”

However, trust chair Raniera Procter says the trust "has pushed for this (Tohu Whakapakari) to be accredited as an undergraduate degree.

“This tohu demonstrates their ability to teach the language - aligned with the principles of Te Kōhanga Reo," he said. 

The ministry was asked for further comment. However, it said it would talk with the trust directly before providing a media statement.

He mana nui tō te kaiako

Te Āo Māori News sought comment from kaiako. Some of those who did respond said they thought finishing off a “three-year course” would ensure their wages would lift but that hadn't always eventuated.  

Development is underway to create a system where the ministry can provide equitable pay to kaiako. The pūtea will be managed by whānau (families) who run the 460 kōhanga reo. nationwide.

On the other hand, union members of NZEI – Te Riu Roa lodged a claim recently with the Ministry of Education to fund Tohu Whakapakari. NZEI strategic adviser Shirley Hakaraia says the claim also seeks to ensure its members who have completed the course are paid the minimum wage.

Te Ao Māori News understands some kaimahi are undermined by the whānau system and may not get the increase they want reflected in their day-to-day mahi unless the ministry gives recognition to the qualification.

“Perhaps it’s time to reassess the system so each whānau and their teachers are clear abouttheir daily objectives,” Proctor said.