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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

$47K-$73K per year

Source: Teach NZ, 2017.

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.

  • Kaiwhakaako Māori with a Bachelor's degree can earn $47,000 in their first year of teaching, while those with a post graduate diploma can earn $48,000.  
  • After seven years of teaching they can earn $73,000.

Private and independent schools sometimes pay an extra $2,000 to $3,000 a year.

Primary and secondary teachers may earn more if they take on a management role, such as head of department or syndicate leader.

Source: Teach NZ, 2017.

(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 for internally assessed components of qualifications
  • record children's progress and write reports
  • help children develop social skills and behaviours
  • meet with parents, whānau or caregivers, individually or at parents' evenings
  • 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
  • knowledge of how to access services that provide support and help to teachers.

Working conditions

Kaiwhakaako Māori:

  • usually work with children from about 8.00am until 3.30pm. They also work outside these hours doing administrative work, attending meetings and doing extracurricular activities such as coaching sports teams
  • work in classrooms and on marae, and occasionally outside in the playground or sports field
  • may accompany students on field trips, sports events and school camps.

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 Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and have a current practising certificate, renewable every three years.

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 a teacher training programme.

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 Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand 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

Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
(04) 471 0852 - enquiries@educationcouncil.org.nz - www.educationcouncil.org.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?

Increasing demand for teachers of te reo Māori

There is a growing demand for te reo Māori teachers in primary and secondary schools. More Māori students are attending kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language immersion schools), creating higher demand for kaiwhakaako Māori throughout the school system.

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

Targeted scholarships for te reo Māori speakers

People wanting to work as kaiwhakaako Māori can apply to receive financial assistance towards their study through TeachNZ. It offers scholarships to speakers of te reo Māori who wish to:

  • train as teachers and work in kura kaupapa Māori and wharekura (Māori medium schools, Years 1 to 8)
  • train as teachers and work in English medium primary and secondary schools.

Most kaiwhakaako Māori employed by the Government

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


  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘School Teachers Occupation Outlook’, accessed January 2016, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • Statistics New Zealand, Census 2013 (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2016. 
  • TeachNZ, 'Māori and Education', accessed January 2016, (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. They may also move into management roles, such as assistant or deputy principal, and principal.

Outside the school system, kaiwhakaako Māori can teach trainee teachers in tertiary institutions or move into research and policy roles in the education sector.

They may also use their qualifications, experience and knowledge of te reo Māori to move into businesses such as publishing, writing and professional development training.

Kaiwhakaako Māori doing high fives with students

Kaiwhakaako Māori taking an extracurricular class to teach Māori language and culture (Photo: NZ Story)

Last updated 28 November 2019