A Northland principal says the Ministry of Education needs to "wake up" as joint strike action next year is "almost certain".

Primary and intermediate teachers and principals have "overwhelmingly" rejected the Government's latest pay offer, worth $698 million, in a secret online ballot that closed on Tuesday night.

Kaeo Primary School principal Paul Barker, who is also the NZEI principals representative for Te Tai Tokerau, said he wasn't surprised at the results and believed joint strike action with secondary school teachers was now "almost a certainty".

"There was no recognition of workload and class size issues and until the Ministry of Education recognise the pressure schools, teachers and principals are under in regards to that, it seems impossible for an agreement to be reached."


Iona Holsted, Ministry of Education secretary for education, said they were addressing NZEI's concerns about workload in a number of ways including the government spending an extra $500 million for learning support and $40 million to boost teacher supply in the short to medium term.

Barker said he didn't know where that money was being spent but he was not seeing it.

"They need to wake up and see what the real situation is. They need to get off their bottoms and start to see about supporting schools again."

NZEI is getting feedback from members on what sort of action they want to take next year if an improved offer isn't made. Members have already taken strike action twice this year.

Myles Ferris, Te Kura o Ōtangarei principal and president of Te Akatea Māori Principals' Association, said he voted to reject the offer.

"For us, particularly for Māori principals and teachers, it's more than just a pay rise - that's the least of our problems. The issue is trying to attract people in to the profession," he said.

Ferris said there was a goal to have 30 per cent of Māori students in full Māori immersion learning by 2032. In order to do that they need a minimum of about 270 new rumaki reo te reo Māori teachers per annum.

"Currently we're only producing 40 so we do need a lot more teachers. Sourcing them from overseas is not the answer because they come in to our country and don't understand what it means to educate the Māori child, they don't understand our culture and it takes a while to get up to speed.

"Let's face it, in Māori medium we can't go overseas to get new teachers so where are we going to find them?" he said.