"Society has undervalued the teaching profession."
Ongaonga School deputy principal Karen Barkle has been in the teaching profession for 18 years and chooses her words carefully when asked about strike action.
She, along with more than 29,000 primary teachers, principals, and their supporters from around the country took to the streets to campaign for better pay, working conditions and incentives to attract new teachers.
About 76 per cent of schools eligible around the country for the strike closed today. That equates to 1479 nationwide and 125 in Hawke's Bay alone.
The Hawke's Bay contingent gathered together at the Napier Soundshell prior to lunchtime, before marching to Clive Square.
Signs on display were poignant - "Pay my mum for the hours she actually does or give her back to me!" and pointed - "When you made us an offer did you forget we teach maths too?"
Mrs Barkle, striking for the first time in her career, said the decision was not taken lightly.
She, like many, have had constant thoughts of leaving the profession, but it has been the love of her job and the children which have made her stay.
"It is really sad to feel like that. It is the time and it is the stress; not that you put on yourself, it is stress that is put on you by outside issues, like parents' expectations and the things that kids need."
Her son is in his second year of teaching and is considering whether it is worth staying on.
"We have been undervalued by society and that has led to kids not wanting to come and join the workforce of teachers."
Maraenui Bilingual School principal Chris Worsley said the needs of Maori children in Maori education had been neglected.
"They are not getting a fair deal. The teaching profession is ageing, we are not attracting young people to the job because the conditions of service and the workload is just too much for them and I think we need to make a fundamental change so that we can enthuse our young people."
He said there are no relievers for Maori-medium schools, shortages of teachers across the board and particularly in roles where te reo is of importance, because other jobs are more attractive.
Today's strike was only the fourth in primary teachers' union, the NZ Educational Institute's 135-year history, after a protest against the Employment Contracts Act in 1991 and two strikes in 1994 and 1995 which won pay parity with secondary teachers.
NZEI Te Riu Roa lead principal negotiator Louise Green said there needs to be a substantive change in the Ministry of Education's offer in subsequent negotiations.
The latest offer would have given about 86 per cent of teachers a pay rise between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent each year for three years, and more time to work individually with children or plan and assess learning.
The offer was far from the 16 per cent over two years that members had identified as necessary to address recruitment and retention issues that had grown during the term of the previous National Government. The request to fund a Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) in every school to assist children with additional learning needs was also ignored.
Ministry deputy secretary, early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said they are disappointed that primary principals and teachers chose to strike.
"We are listening to their concerns which is why our offer, alongside a number of announcements that have already been made by the Government, aims to address those concerns."
However, it's back to the classroom for both teachers and students tomorrow.