Due to the COVID-19 pandemic some of our job opportunities information may have changed. We’re working on updating our job profiles as soon as possible.

Kaiwhakaako Māori

Kaiwhakaako Māori

Alternative titles for this job

Kaiwhakaako Māori teach in te reo Māori at primary and secondary schools.


Kaiwhakaako Māori usually earn

$48K-$80K per year

Source: NZEI and PPTA, 2019.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a kaiwhakaako Māori are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for kaiwhakaako Māori varies depending on qualifications, experience and the type of school they teach at.

  • New kaiwhakaako Māori in primary schools usually earn between $48,000 and $52,000 per year.
  • Kaiwhakaako Māori in primary schools with more than two years' experience can earn $52,000 to $80,000.
  • New kaiwhakaako Māori in secondary schools usually start on about $52,000.
  • Kaiwhakaako Māori in secondary schools with more than two years' experience usually earn between $58,000 and $80,000.

Kaiwhakaako Māori may earn more at private and independent schools, and if they take on management roles.

Sources: NZEI Te Riu Roa, 'Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement, 2019–2022', 2019; and PPTA Te Wehengarua, 'Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement, 2019–2022', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Kaiwhakaako Māori may do some or all of the following:

  • plan, prepare and teach programmes for primary or secondary students
  • set and mark assignments and tests
  • assess students' work
  • record children's progress and write reports
  • help children develop social skills and behaviours
  • meet with parents, whānau or caregivers
  • attend departmental and staff meetings
  • take part in or organise extracurricular activities such as sport, camps or drama
  • keep up to date with curriculum changes and assessment methods
  • maintain regular contact with local iwi, marae and community groups.

Skills and knowledge

Kaiwhakaako Māori need to have:

  • knowledge of Māori language and culture
  • teaching skills, and knowledge of different teaching methods and learning styles
  • up-to-date knowledge of the curriculum
  • assessment and planning skills
  • classroom management skills, including an understanding of behaviour management.

Working conditions

Kaiwhakaako Māori:

  • work regular school hours, but often work additional hours to plan lessons, assess work or attend meetings
  • may be involved in extracurricular activities during lunchtimes, weekends and school holidays or after school
  • work in offices, classrooms and marae, and sometimes at locations such as school camps 
  • may travel nationally to attend conferences and courses.

What's the job really like?

Mahina Law

Mahina Law

Kaiwhakaako Māori

Overcoming obstacles to become a teacher

Kaiwhakaako Māori Mahina Law has a strong philosophy on life. "If you really want to do something, find a way and just do it, no matter what the obstacles."

And that’s exactly what Mahina did when she became a mother at 17, and still had a passion to be a teacher. She started primary teacher training when her daughter was just one year old, and now teaches in a bilingual unit. "I just love teaching in Māori," she says. "To hear the children respond and kōrero in Māori is just wicked."

The ups and downs of teaching

However, Mahina admits that teaching large groups of young children can be tiring. "Sometimes you are so tired from being in class for six hours with children that you just want to go home when they do! But there’s planning and photocopying to be done for the next day, and meetings."

But the satisfaction of seeing the children learn and grow more than compensates for the hours, she says. "You feel like you’re really doing something worthwhile in this world."

Mahina Law is of Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga descent. Her hapū is Ngāti Pareraukawa.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for kaiwhakaako Māori vary depending on the type and level of school.

For primary teaching at kura kaupapa Māori (Māori medium schools)

You need to be fluent in te reo Māori, and have one of the following:

  • a three-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching) or equivalent
  • a degree plus a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching
  • a four-year conjoint degree that combines study in teaching subjects with teacher training.

For secondary teaching of te reo Māori at English medium schools

You need one of the following:

  • a degree in Māori followed by a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary)
  • a combined Māori degree and secondary teaching qualification.

For secondary teaching at Māori medium or bilingual schools

You need to be fluent in te reo Māori, and have one of the following:

  • a specialist subject degree followed by a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary)
  • a combined specialist subject degree and secondary teaching qualification.


You need to be registered with the Teaching Council of New Zealand Matatū Aotearoa.

Targeted scholarships for kaiwhakaako Māori

Scholarships are offered by the Government to encourage people to:

  • train as teachers of te reo Māori at secondary school level
  • train as Māori medium teachers.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with children.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Te reo Māori is required, unless you are already a fluent speaker.

Personal requirements

Kaiwhakaako Māori need to be:

  • skilled at communicating with students and adults from a range of backgrounds
  • organised and good at solving problems
  • friendly, supportive, and good at listening
  • positive, enthusiastic and able to motivate children
  • creative, adaptable and resourceful.

Useful experience

Useful experience for kaiwhakaako Māori includes:

  • work with Māori
  • Māori language courses
  • marae work
  • work with young people
  • counselling
  • work with people with disabilities
  • community work.


First-year kaiwhakaako Māori must become provisionally registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand Matatū Aotearoa and gain full registration after two years' satisfactory work as a teacher. On becoming fully registered, teachers are issued with a practising certificate, renewable every three years.

Find out more about training

Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand Matatū Aotearoa
(04) 471 0852 - enquiries@teachingcouncil.nz - www.teachingcouncil.nz
(0800 165 225) - teachnz.admin@education.govt.nz - www.teachnz.govt.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Demand for kaiwhakaako Māori

There is growing demand for kaiwhakaako Māori in primary and secondary schools, because more students are attending kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori (Māori medium early learning centres and schools).

There is a particular shortage of kaiwhakaako Māori in rural and low socio-economic areas. 

Most kaiwhakaako Māori work at state schools

State schools are the biggest employers of kaiwhakaako Māori. Kaiwhakaako also work at private and state-integrated schools, such as Catholic schools.


  • Education Gazette, vol 99, no 2, 31 July 2020, 'Refreshed Māori Education Strategies Launched', (www.gazette.education.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Education, '2020 TeachNZ Scholarship Guide', accessed August 2020, (www.teachnz.govt.nz).
  • TeachNZ website, accessed August 2020, (www.teachnz.govt.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Kaiwhakaako Māori may progress to become senior teachers or heads of department, or move into management roles, such as assistant or deputy principal, or principal.

Kaiwhakaako Māori may also progress to jobs in areas such as:

  • teaching trainee teachers in tertiary institutions
  • research and policy
  • businesses such as publishing, writing and professional development training.
Two male kaiwhakaako Māori doing high fives with several children

Kaiwhakaako Māori teach in the Māori language (Photo: NZ Story)

Last updated 12 August 2020