Hundreds of Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty teachers marched along Mount Maunganui's main street as part of a nationwide strike.

More than 200 people gathered at Coronation Park before the march began. The rally has now finished, and the teachers are gathering at Mount Drury.

Strong and bitterly cold winds are failing to dampen spirits during the march. Motorists showed their support by honking their horns and waving out.

Teachers and principals voted for a full day strike to raise key messages including a need for more time to teach, a pay increase and more funding for children in learning support.

Advertisement

Today's action is the first strike by educators in 24 years.

Tauranga and Western Bay teachers will march from Coronation Park through the Mount Mainstreet at 10.30am before rallying at Mount Drury where they will create individual messages to send to the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty teachers marching through Mount Maunganui's main street
Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty teachers marching through Mount Maunganui's main street

The strike will continue on streets in the teachers' local areas around Tauranga throughout the afternoon.

Tauranga Special School assistant principal Andrea Andresen and NZEI Tauranga lobbyist said teachers were feeling "energised" about taking action.

"If we don't get that improvement now the damage to New Zealand education is going to be huge."

She said student teachers had also come out to support their colleagues.

"It's not just us at the coalface of teaching," Andresen said.

Te Akau Ki Papamoa School principal Bruce Jepsen said teachers were underpaid for the "most important job in the world".

Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty teachers received plenty of support during the march. Photo/John Borren.
Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty teachers received plenty of support during the march. Photo/John Borren.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
• In June NZEI rejected the ministry's offer to increase pay, in the majority of cases, by between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent for three years.
• Teachers and principals want a 16 per cent pay rise over the two years.
• Members also want to fix the teacher-shortage crisis, more time to teach and lead and to fix issues related to career development.
• It is the first primary school teachers' strike since 1994.
• The Secretary of Education decides on any pay deductions.
• There will be lots of events, marching and picketing on strike day.
• Budget 2018 provided additional funding including $272 million for learning support, $59m for teacher aides, and $394m for new schools and classrooms.
• As at August 1, 2018, the Government has funded more than 980 teacher education refresher places to remove cost barriers so that teachers can return to teaching faster.
• 139 teachers coming to New Zealand have received the Overseas Relocation Grant to help with their costs as at July 20, and 41 schools have received a Finder's Fee to help with the costs of recruiting these teachers.
• $370m was also set aside in the Budget for 1500 new teaching places by 2021 to meet population growth.
• The number of primary school teachers remaining in the job has increased from 91.8 per cent in 2014 to 93.8 per cent in 2017.