Dozens of Māori and Pasifika primary school leaders are experiencing racial discrimination at work, a study reveals.

The Principal Health and Wellbeing survey showed that nearly a third of the 89 participants involved felt their ethnicity had been a source of relationship tension in the last year.

And 25.8 per cent of Māori and Pasifika reported discrimination at work on the basis of their ethnicity. This compares to 8.9 per cent of non-Māori leaders.

Laures Park from New Zealand Educational Institute said the results were disappointing to hear but not surprising because they confirmed what Māori and Pasifika educators had known for a long time.

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The study was led by associate professor Phil Riley of the Australian Catholic University who said he was told that some of the discrimination were from interactions with Government agencies, including the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office.

The type of discrimination which participants most often experienced was "comments made referring to Māori that cause offence".

These may have been informal, and away from the public arena, but were still felt to be significant.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart and other education leaders launched the results of the Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey at Kia Aroha College in Clover Park, Auckland, today.

Race Relations Commissi​oner Dame Susan Devoy was among the invited guests.

The NZEI is calling for action to address this discrimination.

"The current levels of discrimination are unacceptable," Park said.