Education Minister Hekia Parata is refusing to say how much top teachers will earn under a performance pay scheme or where the funding for extra pay will come from.
In a pre-Budget speech in which she announced $511.9 million of extra education spending over fours years, Ms Parata said performance pay was among the options being considered as part of an appraisal system to boost quality teaching.
The new spending comes on top of $304m tagged to professional learning and development for teachers in primary and secondary education.
But Ms Parata will not say how much extra top teachers would earn under a performance pay scheme.
"To put some sort of figure on it is to somehow move away from what the real focus of my speech is _ that we have to have quality happening for all teachers, and that means quality learning experiences for all students," she told TV3's The Nation.
"Performance pay is just one in a basket of activities that we need to be introducing."
Ms Parata would not comment on where funding for performance pay would come from.
"Until we've developed a system and until we've been able to get agreement and confidence by collaborating with the sector, that is a second-order decision."
Ms Parata said a two-year work programme would look at an appraisal system which would identify who was developing outstanding teaching practice.
From that a career progression pathway would be developed to allow excellent teachers to stay in classrooms.
Ms Parata disagreed teaching was a poorly paid profession, saying the average pay was $71,000.
Instead of teachers being forced into management to get better pay, there needed to be better career progression so teachers could stay in the classroom and get more pay.
The Budget changes also include a $43m cap on the number of teachers through increased class sizes.
Ms Parata said today the number of teachers and principals was "about right" at 52,500.
"That represents a five-fold increase in those numbers over the last decade. But we haven't had a five-fold increase in achievement, so we want to now focus on quality."
Ms Parata said over the next four years, she expected to have the same number of teachers as at present.
"What we've decided is we're not going to continue to grow the workforce at the rate it's grown over the last 10 years."
Ms Parata said the Government had continued to invest in the quantity of teachers over the last decade but student achievement had not risen in that time.
"That tells us we have to have better quality teaching and better quality professional leadership to get the best possible learning for our young people."