While thousands of teachers around the country have spent this week picketing and rallying support during a national rolling strike, a group of Rotorua teachers used the time to give back to their community.
About a dozen Rotorua Intermediate School teachers spent the morning getting stuck into the gardens and completing some maintenance inside Koutu Playcentre.
Second-year teacher Nancy Simes said the group wanted to use their time giving back to a playcentre that relied on the support of the community.
"We just thought why waste a day when we could be helping other children. We want the community to benefit from everything we can give."
Simes said having a day off from teaching was not about striking to get more money but fighting for more resources so children could be given a fair education.
The 22-year-old said she had dreamed of becoming a teacher since age 5 and always knew it would be tough - but said it "could be better".
Simes said every day in front of a classroom was different and she never knew what to expect.
"Some days you can't plan and it goes completely out the window. You're the kids' teacher, parent, nurse and sometimes social worker."
She said most classrooms had 30 kids in them and if children came to school hungry, teachers would find food to feed them. If children were tired they would allow them to nap, Simes said.
"Teachers put their blood, sweat, and tears into their jobs so children can have a good education."
Simes said teachers were just asking for what was fair and to have enough resources to be the best teachers they could be for their students.
She was hopeful people valued the work teachers did and the Ministry of Education would help to get better working conditions.
"If we don't stand up now we are going to lose our new teachers."