4.6 Navigating with others

4.6.1 Helen Kelly

NZEI Te Riu Roa members and staff joined with the entire global union movement in October 2016 in mourning the passing of former CTU President Helen Kelly.

As a former teacher, Helen’s advocacy for public education was a lifelong passion, which was recognised in September last year when she was made an Honorary Fellow of NZEI for her enormous contribution to the goal of quality public education in New Zealand.

Helen’s contributions to the rights of workers are too many to list. She has been a staunch advocate for women’s rights and quality public education, and continued to campaign for improved access to life saving drugs, and medicinal cannabis right up to the last few days of her life.

She was a friend and comrade to many of us, and we miss her deeply.

4.6.2 NZCTU Organising Conference, August 2016

NZEI took a large delegation of staff and members to this conference that also heard from international speakers, including inspiring Australian framing expert Mark Chenery.

Staff presented several workshops including:

  • new membership models
  • lessons from the Global Education Reform Movement
  • recruitment and development of tertiary students in the trade union movement
  • bringing the issues of young and new workers to the forefront of the union.

4.6.3 Climate Change

The 2016 Annual Meeting endorsed a comprehensive climate change policy for NZEI Te Riu Roa. A plan was developed by National Executive to implement the policy.

The plan addressed the following areas

  • NZEI being carbon neutral
  • NZEI climate change leadership in the sector
  • NZEI participation through the CTU in the national and international debates
  • Developing and using a Māori cultural lens on climate change.

Work in all four areas progressed during the year. The International Trade Union Confederation has taken an active interest in our Māori cultural lens approach and NZEI has been an active participant in the CTU Just Transition Working Group.

4.6.4 Homelessness and healthy homes

NZEI Te Riu Roa continued to be active on the issue of homelessness, through our participation in the opposition parties’ Homelessness Inquiry in 2016. We submitted in writing and in person, with Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti appearing before the inquiry in Tauranga to talk about the impact of homelessness on children and their educational achievement.

“About ten percent of the children in my school are homeless, with more families coming to see me most weeks to say they’re about to lose their home.

“You can just see from looking in their eyes that these children are too tired to learn. Some of them don’t have friends, and won’t even try to make friends because they know they’ll be moving soon.”

Jan Tinetti, principal

4.6.5 Tick for Kids

The Tick for Kids coalition continued to provide opportunities for NZEI Te Riu Roa to work with NGOs across the children’s sector, particularly around local government elections. Tick for Kids events provided opportunities for young people to ask questions of local government candidates. Regional hubs are being supported to do their own advocacy, and gathered together for national training on community organising.

4.6.6 Living Wage

The Living Wage movement continued to go from strength to strength, with more employers coming on board to pay a living wage, and thriving community campaigns popping up around the country. NZEI Te Riu Roa had a presence at Living Wage community events, schools hosted events, and educators spoke up about the benefits of the Living Wage.

4.6.7 Inclusive education

In the area of inclusive education and learning support, NZEI Te Riu Roa has deepened its relationships with sector allies, disabled people’s groups and parent organisations, especially through the Education for All coalition. A successful rally was held in Wellington on 22 September, launching a petition to politicians that was presented in April 2017, and was followed up by gatherings in other centres.

More educators had the opportunity to have conversations with parents and allies at our Inclusive Communities Through Education Summit in May.

Approximately 100 educators, parents, disabled people and advocates discussed how we can make education inclusive, and planned to continue this work in their own communities.

4.6.8 Children’s Day

NZEI Te Riu Roa took part in local events around the country on Children’s Day on 5 March. It was an opportunity to promote our Every Child is Worth It campaign to restore funding for quality ECE.

NZEI Te Riu Roa stands at Children’s Day events had art activities for children, and information about the Every Child is Worth It campaign and simple ways to get involved.

4.6.9 World Educators’ Day

Teachers and support staff around New Zealand organised marches, gatherings and rallies on World Educators’ Day in October as part of a nationwide call for Better Funding, Better Learning for education.

World Educators’ Day is a global event celebrated around the world in conjunction with Education International and UNESCO.

 “World Educators’ Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge the teachers and support staff who work with our children and are dedicated to ensuring children get the best possible education. Most of the education budget is spent on people. It is people—teachers and support staff—who are at the heart of our world class education system.”

Louise Green

4.6.10 Child poverty

Child poverty continues to be an issue for children in their educational achievement. NZEI Te Riu Roa has been in the forefront of lobbying on this issue and calling for action.

The Children’s Commissioner’s annual Child Poverty Monitor Technical Report reinforced the strong link between poverty and underachievement in school.

The Child Poverty Monitor report which was released just before Christmas was proof that without major action to reduce child poverty, educational targets alone will never work to raise achievement.

“It's no surprise that children from disadvantaged families underachieve when, as the report shows, large numbers are missing out on warm clothes, healthy food, and learning opportunities outside school.”

Louise Green

Video: The impact of poverty

Longtime early childhood educator Julie Brice talks about the growing impact of poverty on families. (English, 1 minute 40 seconds)

Actor Julian Dennison speaks at the Wellington World Educators' Day event