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.

Kaiwhakaako Māori video

Te Wehi finds out about working as a kura kaupapa teacher – 8.00 mins. (Video courtesy Dave Mason Productions)

Te Wehi: Kia ora, my name is Te Wehi, I’m 17 years old, I go to Hamilton Boys High School, and when I get older I’m really interested in being a teacher, so here I am, I’m going to learn a little bit more about it – I’m going back to school!

Clinton: There is a growing demand for te reo Māori Pprimary teachers to lead Māori immersion and bilingual classes.

Te Wehi & Hine-Puaawai: Kia ora.

Hine-Puaawai: Haere mae ki te Wharekura Rakaumanga.

Hine-Puaawai: Today I will be introducing you to my class. They are all Year 3’s. I have a roll of 19 and I hope you have a really good day. Ka pai?

Te Wehi: Ae, ka pai.

Clinton: Rakaumanga is the largest total immersion school, or Wharekura, in the country, with over 400 pupils from years 1 to 13.

1.15.11 Clinton: Te Wehi’s first task is the roll call.

1.15.15 Te Wehi: Morena Ngahuia!

1.15.18 Te Wehi: Morena Hawaiiki!

1.15.22 Hine-Puaawai: I started here when I was five, I made my way all the way through to Year 13 and I was lucky enough to also be head girl, and during my head girl time I had seen that there was a major cry for teachers in kura kaupapa, so I went to university, did my three years and now I’ve come back as a teacher.

1.15.42 Clinton: Next the kids write a short story, and then read it out for the class.

1.15.46 Te Wehi: (In Māori) Stand up and read your story.

1.15.54 Te Wehi: (In Māori) Be quiet while we’re listening, thank you.

1.15.57 Hine-Puaawai: In order to survive in this career, you need patience – you need a lot of patience, especially with the little ones, and if you’re teaching in kura kaupapa you need to know how to korero Māori and how to communicate with them because that’s the best way that they’re going to learn is through korero.

1.16.15 Te Wehi: …rua, toru.

1.16.22 Te Wehi: (In Māori) You can come up and read the answer.

1.16.33 Te Wehi: (In Māori) Is that right?

1.16.35 Children: Ae!

1.16.34 Te Wehi: Ae, ka pai!

1.16.37 Te Wehi: (In Māori) In the box is 5.

1.16.46 Clinton: Te Wehi helps the girls with their item for the upcoming school performance.

1.16.50 Te Wehi: Toru, wha…

1.16.52 Girls: Singing.

1.16.58 Hine-Puaawai: The school has done so much for me during my time here and it was just a matter of giving back to the community and giving back to the teachers and giving back to my principal as well because he has done so much for me.

1.17.12 Girls: Talking.

1.17.16 Everyone: Clapping.

1.17.21 Te Wehi: It’s been a really, really good start by coming into this kura kaupapa Māori, getting to know a few of the students. From here, I’m going to go to Nawton Primary – I hear they’ve got a good immersion class but they’re also bilingual so it will be different but hopefully it will be good as well.

1.17.36 Clinton: There are 104 students in Nawton Primary’s Rumaki classes – where over 81% of instruction is given in Māori. There are also 40 students in the bilingual classes.

1.17.47 Te Wehi: Tena Koe.

1.17.49 Hurae: Hurae taku ingoa.

1.17.50 Clinton: Hurae White is the Deputy Principal. He handles admin as well as specialised teaching programmes. We asked him how he got into teaching.

1.17.58 Hurae: So I got a phone call from aunty who had a home-based kohanga reo and said she needed a hand so I was there for three years. I absolutely loved working with the kids and working with te reo Māori and the effort to revitalise the language.

1.18.14 Clinton: So Hurae started a degree in teaching.

1.18.17 Hurae: So I did that, I loved it and at the end of my third year at university I got a phone call saying, “Hurae, we need you here, and we won’t take anybody else and we won’t take no.” So I’ve been here ever since.

1.18.34 Clinton: Hurae leads the oral language sample programme, which
is a test of the children’s te reo Māori skills and shows how their language is developing. The child is given a short storyboard and has one minute to think up a story from the pictures.

1.18.46 Child: Telling story.

1.18.55 Hurae: Ka pai.

1.18.56 Clinton: The second part of the test involves a more complex series of pictures. Te Wehi gets to run the test with a second student. The resulting story is taped and will be transcribed and analysed. This is done by a panel of teachers, and enables teaching to be focused for each student’s needs.

1.19.13 Child: Speaking.

1.19.35 Hurae: I love my job, I always have. No day is ever the same. Watching our students develop is absolutely amazing. They take everything in their stride and they work hard and when they know where their goal post is they work really hard to get there.

1.19.53 Clinton: Another specialist class Hurae conducts is to get the kids up to speed with their English reading and comprehension.

1.20.06 Hurae: We work on the premise that when our students leave here at the end of Year 6, they are bilingual/biliterate so they are able to read and write in Māori, and read and write in English.

1.20.20 Hurae: Reading story.

1.20.26 Clinton: So how did Te Wehi go with his kura kaupapa teaching experience?

1.20.30 Hurae: I think Te Wehi is going to be an absolutely awesome teacher – he’s going to be A-one, without a doubt.

1.20.37 Hine-Puaawai: I thought Te Wehi did exceptionally well, considering he was in with our tamariki. He showed a lot of commitment and passion and I hope teaching is a job for him.

1.20.47 Te Wehi: I’m definitely, definitely going to consider it now because the whole process is amazing and it’s definitely something I’m going to look forward to in the future.

1.20.55 Clinton: Teachers who can speak te reo Māori are in great demand. For primary teaching at kura kaupapa Māori, Māori medium school, Years 1 to 8, you will need fluency in te reo Māori; a three-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching) or equivalent, or a degree plus a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching or a four-year conjoint degree that combines study in teaching subjects with teacher training.

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 20 September 2018