A cleaner working on the frontline of New Zealand's Covid-19 response says she finally feels valued now she earns the living wage.
And she's not alone, with 27 of the 32 managed isolation and quarantine hotel facilities across the country now agreeing to pay their staff, many who had been on or just above the minimum wage, at a rate of $22.10.
Tina Eitiare recently spoke about earning just 25 cents above the minimum wage, despite the danger of her and her colleagues' work increasing dramatically now her hotel was operating as a managed isolation and quarantine facility, and the huge sacrifices in their personal lives.
The plight of New Zealand's frontline health workers was further brought into the spotlight this week, after a cleaner at the Grand Millenium contracted Covid-19.
At Eitiare's hotel the increase takes into account the minimum wage rise coming into effect next week, from $18.90 to $20, with workers receiving their base pay slightly above the minimum wage, and an allowance on top seeing their pay arrive at $22.10.
This would see Eitiare's paycheck increase by a little over $100 a week.
"It feels really good, we feel valued for what we do, and it is just going to make life that much easier," said Eitiare, who has worked as a cleaner for 19 years, over that time raising seven children, while also struggling to pay the mortgage on her family home.
The Government last year announced all its contracted cleaners, security and caterers would be paid the living wage of $22.10, but crucially this did not include hotel staff, employed and paid for directly by the hotels.
A spokeswoman for MBIE, which contracts the 32 facilities across the country, said consequently they'd been discussing the matter with hotel providers, and as they negotiated their contract extensions.
As of Thursday, 16 were paying all staff doing MIQ work the living wage, and another 11 agreeing "in principle" to pay the rate once their new contracts were finalised.
"We continue to pursue this outcome with the remaining hotel providers," a spokeswoman said.
She refused to provide the Herald the names of those remaining.
The living wage is calculated each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit, and is defined as "the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life".
Unite Union National Secretary John Crocker said they were "very pleased" to hear more hotels come on board to pay the living wage, with 15 agreeing to the wage increase in just a few weeks.
"It is great to see 16 MIQ facilities now paying the living wage.
"The news that another 11 have agreed in principle to shortly start paying the living wage is excellent. This means so much to the workers on the front line.
"Both in their week to week lives as the extra money means they don't have to struggle but also in the dignity that they are recognised by the community for the important work they are doing."
Crocker said the union would continue putting pressure on hotels holding out, calling on them specifically, and publicly, to step up for their workers who are "bravely keeping New Zealand safe".
"We question whether the Government should be renewing the contracts of those hotels who won't make the same commitment."
"We understand that most hotels have implemented these pay rises as allowances while they are under contract to MBIE as the future of tourism looks uncertain.
"However we are hopeful that between the Government continuing to increase the minimum wage towards a living wage and hotels choosing to do the right thing, that these wage increases can be maintained in the future."
Employment lawyer Max Whitehead said the use of allowances was an arrangement where employers offered extra pay without necessarily making permanent changes.
"In contractual terms there are generally no issues if an employer wants to increase somebody's pay, but if they are to reduce the pay then they need the worker's permission.
"So some crafty employers will say for this piece of work we will give a premium, or danger pay, and then - unless it is written in the contract - remove it after the work has ended."
E Tū union also represents hotel workers in MIQ facilities.
Organiser Mat Danaher told the Herald their organisation had long viewed cleaning staff as health workers and the MIQ locations as health facilities and argued they should be paid fairly for this dangerous work.
"We welcome this development and it shows that the sacrifices made by the quarantine workers are being recognised.
"I believe that 15 MIQ facilities are already paying the living wage, and that another 12 are the in principle ones meaning that they will be adjusting to pay it very shortly.
"This represents a big victory for some of the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in the country who are currently making some of the biggest sacrifices to keep us safe."
The Herald has approached several MIQ hotels for comment, but they declined to comment.