More than a thousand teachers and their supporters took to the streets in Hamilton to put their plea to the government for more money and better working conditions.

In answer to the question of "why now?", NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter said that teachers and principals have tried other ways of resolving problems for the last 25 years.

"It hasn't worked," he said. "Finally they just snapped and said this crisis is too bad, our children's education is at risk."

There were plenty of horns tooting on the streets from 11am as drivers showed their support to the protesters taking a stand in the wintery conditions.


"We're here just to raise awareness about teacher retention issues," teacher Renee Manning said.

"I'm here to raise money for teachers too," Mannings' eight-year-old daughter Aria said.

Primary school teachers have asked for a 16 per cent increase over two years, alongside extra learning support and more time for teaching.

"We work a lot longer hours than people realise and if we didn't get up early and stay there late, children wouldn't have as many opportunities. It's out of the goodness of our heart that we go above and beyond," Heather Downing said.

Goulter said the Union and teachers are hopeful the Labour Government will take note, and if not it could be a "clear mandate for what we do next".

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