A South African couple hired to help with New Zealand's desperate teacher shortage have been refused residence here because their pay is too low.

Chané and Chris van Tonder, who both completed four-year teaching qualifications in South Africa last year, are earning $47,980 each as beginning teachers on one-year work visas at South Auckland schools.

But they can't get NZ residence because they earn below the minimum income of $52,000 a year, or $25 an hour, required for the skilled migrant category.

They have saved a deposit for a house, but can't buy one because of the new