More than 400 teachers and principals are in Rotorua to discuss issues facing the education sector.
The annual New Zealand Education Institute Te Riu Roa conference runs from today until Wednesday. Support staff, early childhood workers and some Ministry of Education staff will meet, hear from guest speakers and discuss key issues in the sector.
This year's conference theme is Whakamana Tāngata and union members from around the country will hear from other members, the Post-Primary Teachers' Association, Education Minister Chris Hipkins and international guest speakers.
NZEI president Lynda Stuart told the Rotorua Daily Post the union would also launch a new campaign for the early childhood education sector on the final day of the conference.
The union's national secretary, Paul Goulter, is expected to make the announcement.
"For far too long our early childhood teachers have been undervalued," Stuart said.
"They work with our youngest children. All research shows the first 1000 days are really important yet in education our early childhood teachers are often underpaid.
"We've got a huge shortage of qualified early childhood teachers. We need to be attracting people."
Stuart said union members would also talk about the work that had been done in the past year as well as share knowledge and expertise.
"I'm looking forward to being with the members, celebrating our successes, having conversations we need to have and also setting the scene for moving forward.
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"Education is in a really exciting space, the Government has a big programme of work [and] we want to work alongside them.
"When we work together we can do some amazing stuff."
Stuart said there was also a long-standing campaign around pay equity for support staff and making sure they were valued in relation to job security and professional development.
"They are the glue that holds our schools and early childhood centres together. It's important they are paid what they are worth and have security and career development."
The conference has been held in Rotorua for five years but will be in Auckland next year.