Primary school teachers ended a week of rolling one-day strikes with school closures and rallies in the Wellington region today.
Teachers at a march and rally in downtown Wellington told RNZ they were determined and were unlikely to accept the government's latest offer, which increased the top rates of pay available for many teachers as well as providing three consecutive 3 percent pay rises.
They said they expected to join forces with the Post Primary Teachers Association and hold a combined campaign in 2019 unless the offer was improved further.
Teacher Faye Taylor said the strike was important.
"Some teachers feel conflicted about the strike because they lose a day's pay but I see it as important investment in all of our futures," she said.
"It's not just about the money, teachers really need extra time to do a good job and they need extra support."
Alistair Button said he would hold out for a better deal from the Education Ministry.
"The improvement is very slight. Unless there's a substantial improvement in the offer we need to continue with our action. I think there probably is more money, there's a surplus," he said.
Wellington parents said they supported the teacher strike, even though it meant they had to look after children who would otherwise be at school.
Parent Jim Frost even went so far as to join the teachers' march to the Civic Square with his daughter Rhosyn.
"We've got great teachers and I think they deserve more," he said.
Hannah Fingleton took the day off work to look after her children aged 12 and nine, but she didn't mind.
"I support what they're doing. I don't know the ins and outs of the deals that they've been offered, but I'm sure the union is right when they feel that it's not the best offer for teachers that they could get," she said.
At Civic Square, Educational Institute (NZEI) national secretary Paul Goulter told the rally it was time for teachers to get a better deal but the government was turning a deaf ear to their claim.
"This government has said 'no more', they've said 'that's it, no more'. We say to that, I say to that, shame," he said.
"If our members reject this offer, we fight on because we fight for what we believe in. 'Just give us time' is no longer going to cut it."
Wellington mayor Justin Lester also addressed the rally even though he won his position on a Labour party ticket.
He told RNZ he'd informed the government he would be speaking in support of the teachers.
"I also understand the government's constraints around finance. We get that, we get both sides of the equation. What we're asking is we do the best by the teachers and my show of support is a strong show of support for teaching."
NZEI leaders were scheduled to meet with those of the secondary teachers' union, the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA), on Friday afternoon to discuss possible joint action next year.
Teacher Amanda Lamble said combined action by members of the two unions would send a strong message.
"It was really encouraging to hear that the secondary schools are going to join us, so I think they've got to listen to that resolve," she said.
But Secretary for Education Iona Holsted indicated teachers were jumping the gun by talking already about further industrial action.
"It is hard to understand why the teaching unions are threatening further campaigns before the NZEI members get the opportunity to vote on the settlement offer, and while the PPTA is still in active bargaining with the ministry," she said.
Ms Holsted said the offer to primary teachers would increase most teachers' pay by $10,000 over the course of 24 months.
"It is important that we settle these negotiations and minimise disruption for children and parents," she said.