A clear majority of people support performance pay for teachers, the latest Herald DigiPoll survey shows.
The policy is backed by Education Minister Hekia Parata, but she said last night it would take longer to introduce than she thought.
But she was willing to look at performance pay for teams of teachers, not just individual teachers.
At present pay is based mainly on years of service.
She is meeting the Post Primary Teachers' Association executive tonight and performance pay will be on the agenda.
The issue is gripping Britain at present with unions fighting a recommendation by the House of Commons education select committee that performance pay be introduced.
The National Union of Teachers argues that it will encourage teachers to exaggerate children's performance to get extra pay themselves.
Ms Parata said developing performance pay now would be putting the cart before the horse. She needed first to develop a more comprehensive appraisal system to identify outstanding teachers so the practice could be shared more widely, and find where the gaps were in professional development.
"Performance pay to me is distraction really because once you have an appraisal system which is about identifying good practices and how we get more of it, then performance pay is simply one of a basket of options to reward and recognise."
Others could include opportunities to do more in the classroom or for leadership or professional development.
Ms Parata said teaching was a collaborative profession "and in developing a comprehensive appraisal system and the rewards one would be looking for elements that relate well to that".
"It is possible you could have performance pay for a team. Actually you can cut just about any way you have the creativity to think about it."
But implementing it may take some time.
"I have come to understand that these things take a little longer than perhaps I had anticipated."
She was focused on getting an appraisal system in a collaborative way with all parts of the education sector.
"I am interested in that appraisal system focusing on driving up quality teaching and quality professional leadership so there is nothing punitive about this."
The poll also sought views on the ownership and running of schools after the first contract was signed for a public private partnership to build and manage a state school.
Most people (56.6 per cent) were opposed while 35.1 per cent supported it.
Ms Parata said one of the key factors in improving student performance was professional leadership.
Yet a 2010 study of primary principals showed New Zealand principals spent about 27 per cent of their time dealing with property-related issues.