Up to 2000 Northland teachers and their supporters have taken to the streets in four main centres calling for better working conditions and better pay.

In Whangārei, up to 1000 teachers, parents and children met at Forum North before walking around the city streets to deliver letters to the offices of MP's before finishing in Cameron St Mall.

Hora Hora School's Joseph Tobin was among those marching, and his reason was simple.

"Because for the last nine years education has been underfunded."

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He said there was a drop in the number of people studying to come in the profession while others were coming to the end of their careers and retiring.

Morgan Wilson of Hikurangi Primary carried the banner at the front of the Whangārei march. Photo/Tania Whyte
Morgan Wilson of Hikurangi Primary carried the banner at the front of the Whangārei march. Photo/Tania Whyte

"We're in a crisis now - there's not going to be enough teachers."

That's part of the reason for wanting better pay.

"With decent pay we will draw in people to this profession."

He said there was not enough funding to go around for kids that need it.

"What the government is offering is nowhere near enough."

Tobin is a third year teacher and said he started as a teacher aide. "I saw how valuable and important the work was, I wanted to be able to do more."

Teachers in Kaitaia took part in the northern most march of the day. Photo/Peter Jackson
Teachers in Kaitaia took part in the northern most march of the day. Photo/Peter Jackson

An estimated 300 marched in Kerikeri, around 200 in Kaitaia while about 60 others walked in Dargaville. Many teachers also picketed outside their schools before taking part in the marches.

The Ministry of Education had offered to increase pay, in the majority of cases, by between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent a year for three years.

That offer fell well short of the 16 per cent increase teachers felt was needed over the two years to retain teachers and help recruit new ones.

Riverview School teachers Jenny Henderson (left), Trish Puharich and Lynda Staples make their views known. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Riverview School teachers Jenny Henderson (left), Trish Puharich and Lynda Staples make their views known. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Close to 30,000 teachers were expected to march across the country today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins spoke to those in the Wellington rally.

Hipkins said he knew teachers wouldn't have made the decision to strike lightly.

"I want to let you know that this is a Government that is listening to you, we have heard you.

"We have heard the concerns that you've been raising with us. We have heard that you want to be a respected, trusted, and valued profession."