Auckland teachers are quitting the city after tiring of long commutes or living with parents to cope with high rents and house prices.

Principals want more done to help them retain staff, including a consideration of subsidised housing or making developers include low-cost teacher housing.

The Ministry of Education is aware of the concerns but says latest figures show in the year to May 2016 just over 2 per cent of Auckland teachers left for the regions.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has ruled out subsidised housing - and says one problem is a reluctance from Auckland schools to hire younger teachers on permanent contracts.


A Teacher Supply Working Group was set up as a joint initiative between the ministry, PPTA and NZSTA. Minutes from recent meetings were obtained by the Green Party under the Official Information Act.

"If a young teacher doesn't want to live in their parents' house, they have to do that [leave Auckland]," notes from a meeting in West Auckland on May 16 state.

"A number of principals, mostly of the higher decile schools, spoke a lot about differential pay for Auckland."

Another problem highlighted was the long commutes of some staff.

"Only the older teachers live close to schools, but the young teachers have to live miles away (two-hour commutes!) and this has a significant impact on their ability to be engaged with the school."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Auckland property market is affecting the culture of schools. Photo / Dean Purcell
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Auckland property market is affecting the culture of schools. Photo / Dean Purcell

Principals at the meeting suggested the ministry could be engaged with special housing areas, assist teachers with rental or mortgage assistance for new housing areas close to schools, or lobby for rules to require developers to put aside low-cost houses for teachers and other essential public service workers.

Another meeting in east and south Auckland heard from a school that lost three middle leadership staff in less than a year for positions in the regions.

"They moved specifically because they can then live - they have young families, the affordability, the lifestyle," the minutes state. "One salary in regions can outdo two in Auckland."


Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told the Herald the increase in teachers giving up on Auckland impacted both lessons and school culture.

"Sports teams, cultural experiences are having to be cut back because teachers are having to commute for an hour or two hours to get to and from their jobs. The future of the culture and quality of teaching is undermined by the housing crisis."

Turei said improving the number of affordable housing was crucial, but a form of additional funding for teachers should be considered if the property market didn't improve significantly.

But Education Minister Hekia Parata said too many young teachers in Auckland were kept on temporary contracts. The ministry had started a programme encouraging schools to hire permanently to give young teachers a "predictable, reliable salary".

Parata didn't believe subsidised housing should be considered: "teachers, like other Aucklanders - police, nurses, bus drivers - are facing the same pressures. And I don't think one group over another should get some kind of different funding".

Pauline Cleaver, acting associate deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement, said the ministry worked with sector groups to identify possible solutions.


Many of those were included in a $9 million package of teacher recruitment initiatives announced in August last year, including a campaign encouraging Kiwi teachers overseas to come home that was showing signs of success.

The latest data shows in the year to May 2016 only 2.1 per cent of permanent teachers working in Auckland left the region.

Cleaver said changes to teachers' allowances, such as an Auckland allowance, would need to be negotiated as part of the collective agreement with unions. A special allowance for Auckland teachers wasn't raised in the latest bargaining round.

Three young teachers recently left Mt Albert Grammar School and quit Auckland, saying they wanted to afford a first home. Headmaster Patrick Drumm said teachers were applying for vacancies but quality was a concern.

Any effort to compensate Auckland teachers needed to be substantial, he said - much more than a couple thousand dollars.

"We are seeing communities of learning, improving pedagogy - a lot of investment around that - but the thing that is missing in the whole puzzle is who will bring these initiatives to life? Where's the workforce, where are the people coming into the workforce?"