Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand welcomes the ECE budget announcements which will definitely assist ECE services, and we thank the Minister for injecting well deserved funding into parts of the ECE sector.

Te Rito Maioha also welcomes the increased funding for all home-based services with qualified educators. This will encourage more home-based educators to complete an ECE qualification. We are also pleased to see increased funding for kohanga reo.

We are, however, very disappointed at the tepid offering to the ECE sector relating to pay parity.

“While we do understand the unprecedented pressures on the government’s budget at this time, it is critical that the full ECE sector achieves parity with kindergartens and primary teachers, and this is not incompatible with the government’s goals for economic renewal”, says Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe.

“Paying ECE teachers equitably will help to rebuild and sustain our economy by supporting families returning to work and rebuilding their businesses, and by our teachers’ own spending in the domestic economy.

“It is also the right thing to do. ECE teachers are qualified, highly skilled and dedicated, and they have been working under sustained pressure since funding and support for ECE was significantly reduced under the previous government. No other part of the education system had its funding reduced to the same degree, and this has led to ECE becoming the ever-poorer relation of the teaching profession.

“Today’s announcement only includes an increase to the minimum base pay rate for those beginning their ECE teaching career, if they are earning less than $49,000. That is quite a small number of ECE teachers. There are many other teachers in the profession who have been underpaid for far too many years that will not benefit from this.

“For Minister Hipkins to say that this disparity will be addressed over a number of budgets is really kicking the can – we’ve heard that talk before and found that it is cheap. We have waited too long, it just isn’t acceptable. Where is the plan for pay parity?

“More people are likely to enter higher education in the coming year if the pandemic leads to a recession. We need to make the ECE teaching profession as attractive as possible.” “I am concerned that the move to higher quality early learning as set out in the Early Learning Action Plan won’t be achieved if early childhood teacher salary and conditions are not urgently improved.”

Te Rito Maioha would like to acknowledge the incredible work that ECE services and teachers provide their tamariki and whānau each and every day to ensure our youngest citizens have the best start in their learning journey.

Te Rito Maioha will make further comment when we have conducted deep analysis.