Another mega-strike is not a possibility but a reality if the Government does not get the message sent by the thousands of Northland teachers who marched the streets, a Whangārei principal says.
Whangārei's city centre was flooded with a stream of more than 3000 primary, intermediate, secondary and area school teachers from around Northland - and their supporters - who missed out on a day of pay yesterday as they campaigned for better pay and working conditions.
While in Kaitaia teachers made their way from Jaycee Park to a rally in the old Pak'nSave carpark chanting "overworked and underpaid, teaching doesn't make the grade".
Pat Newman, Hora Hora Primary School principal and president of the Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association, said if the Government did not listen, more striking was a reality.
"Rolling strikes and other action can be very much expected - they can be guaranteed. I don't think I've seen the teaching profession so united to be honest... And I first went to train in 1973."
The strike comes after members of education unions NZEI Te Riu Roa - which represents primary school teachers and principals - and the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) - which represents secondary principals and teachers - voted in favour of taking joint strike action.
Areas schools also voted last week to join the strike.
To begin the day of industrial action teachers and principals picketed along main roads around the region.
In Kerikeri, more than 30 teachers, parents and pupils — mostly from Riverview School and Bay of Islands International Academy at Te Tii — staged a protest at the Heritage Bypass roundabout from 8am with many motorists tooting in support.
At the other end of town about 40 teachers and supporters from Kerikeri High and Kerikeri Primary schools made their feelings known at the Countdown roundabout.
Workloads and resourcing for high-needs children were the key issues for the Kerikeri teachers who spoke to the Northern Advocate.
About 11am teachers and supporters from around the region - including the Bay of Islands and Wellsford - gathered at Whangārei's Mander Park prior to the march through town.
Some wore jackets emblazoned with their school's name on them, while a group of teachers from Te Kāpehu Whetū dressed as superheroes.
Seven-year-old Minamina Karetai-Mahanga was there supporting her mum Olivia Karetai who teaches at Portland School.
"Teachers don't normally get enough money and resources for the children, or support," Minamina said.
Karetai said she was just an ordinary teacher but every day she needed to perform miracles which she didn't have the resources to do.
She said it was great seeing all the educators and supporters - including a number of children - coming together.
"The support we've gotten from the climate of people driving past is really good because one of our fears is that we're going to make people angry."
A karakia was said, and a waiata was sang before the march proceeded through Central Ave to the CBD ending at Hihiaua Park.
The line of teachers marching through the city of Whangārei seemed never ending. By the time the marchers at the end reached the intersection at Bank St, the front of the group was not in sight.
Placards were plastered with messages like "WTF Chris - Where's The Funding?", "Think we can't wait this out? We have bladders too", and "This wouldn't happen at Hogwarts".
The marchers arrived at Hihiaua Park, at the Town Basin, around 12.30pm.
Ōpua School teacher and NZEI Bay of Islands president Juliette Ridge spoke at the rally and talked about a colleague's salary. She said a beginning teacher's salary is $47,980, her colleague's salary "after a lifetime of teaching" was $12,000 more than that.
"She works a 60-hour week regularly. She's basically earning just above the minimum wage. Is this fair?"
The crowd yelled "no".
Joseph Tobin, who teaches at Hora Hora Primary School, said he had earned more money doing jobs in farming and pest control even though teaching has been the most stressful of all.