Thousands of primary school teachers took to the streets yesterday to stake their claims for better pay and conditions to overcome the worst teacher shortage in recent memory.

Schools shut and the parents of thousands of children nationwide had to find alternative care options.

An inconvenience for some, sure, but judging by the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page, those in the teaching industry had the full backing of the public.

And so they should. Teachers shape the future, without them our society has no hope of making any progress.


I was pleased to see thousands of marchers shut down Queen St in Auckland. I had hoped Rotorua teachers would do the same - shut down Fenton St or Tutanekai St - make a real statement.

But in typical teacher style, they were too considerate, instead sticking to the footpaths, still making a scene, but without being too much of an inconvenience to anyone.

I'm not trying to have a go, anyone who knows me can vouch that I am one of the biggest advocates for teachers. It is for that reason I want to see them really drive home how indispensable they are.

Striking for a day will quickly be forgotten. If teachers go on to strike for two days, as has now been suggested, that may get the higher powers to perk up their ears.

But if teachers really want to affect change, strike for a week; strike until you are given the pay and working conditions you deserve.

Children will suffer, parents will suffer but will Education Minister Chris Hipkins still think teachers' asking point for pay is too high when the gates of every school in the country are closed?

One local teacher summed it up perfectly when she described the modern day role of an educator - "You buy them food, you celebrate their birthday, you get little gifts, you're so much more than a teacher, you're a social worker, you're a doctor, you're a nurse, you're a friend, you're a referee, a coach."

So many teachers take on these additional roles because they genuinely care but it's not sustainable; the cracks are showing and it's time for change. Teachers deserve better - they need to do whatever it takes to show they deserve better.