Support staff at Kaitaia Primary School are preparing to make their contribution to a 'Fair's Fair' campaign for a living wage and pay equity with others in similar professions.
Teacher aide Kim Bell said the campaign's colours, black and white, represented the issues of decent wages, job security and career development, which were very black and white.
"Everyone in New Zealand deserves to be paid a living wage, yet 90 per cent of support staff in New Zealand schools are paid much less than this. Some are still on the minimum wage," she said.
"With the inability to work a full 40-hour week, and only paid during the school term (not the school holidays), we struggle every day to provide for our families. We work without knowing our jobs and hours are secure, as on the current funding module these hours can be reduced."
Support staff at Kaitaia Primary School were leading the charge in the Far North, with other schools following suit over the next few weeks, to deliver their concerns to the government.
"We are asking for fair pay and fair conditions for the often very difficult job we do. Pay equity, pay increases, career development and job security are the four main issues of our campaign," Ms Bell said. "Every child in the classroom benefits from having a teacher aide in the classroom. Teacher aides take reading and maths groups, do testing, arts and crafts, make lunches, go on school camps and support the teacher in the classroom in many ways. We have many high-needs students who absolutely need extra support.
"Our teachers tell us it would be intolerable to do what they do if we weren't present every day in their classroom. Some even say they would look for another career, if it weren't for us.
"We love what we do, we love the children, we love our teachers, but fair's fair. Talk to your children about the work their teacher aides do for them."
The support staff will be giving away sizzled sausages outside the old Pak'nSave carpark in Kaitaia between 11am and 2pm on Wednesday (November 13) to inform the community of the campaign.
"Please come along, support us and hear our stories," Ms Bell said.