Job Seeking for Māori and Pacific Graduates

Kia ora, Talofa lava, Kia orana, Mālō e lelei, Fakaalofa atu, Taloha ni, Ni sa Bula, Kam Na Mauri, Halo Olaketa, Ia Orana, Greetings.

As Māori and Pacific teachers you’re in demand, both for your language skills and as a role model for Māori and Pacific students in New Zealand, however, getting that start in teaching can still be a challenge. The job application process is a European system and it can often feel uncomfortable to Māori and Pacific teachers. This section will give you some hints and tips as to how to navigate this system and win your dream role.

The Ministry of Education has contracted Education Personnel to provide a JobFind Assistance Programme for Māori and Pacific teachers. This involves extended one-on-one contact with an experienced recruitment consultant who will help you with your CV and applications for jobs, advise you on networking opportunities, identify barriers that may be holding you back, and identify your strengths and skills and how to market them.

You can read about recent graduates and their successes with the aid of the JobFind Assistance Programme:

  • Click here to read Christiane's story, primary teacher
  • Click here to read Siosi’ana’s story, secondary teacher
  • Click here to read Jenna's story, primary teacher

Learn more here about how Education Personnel can help you. Register for the JobFind Assistance Programme. Get in touch with Gillian at Education Personnel on 04 387 9988, or email You can also private message our Facebook page

Marketing Your Skills

For both Māori and Pacific teachers it’s vital to sell your language skills if you have them – these skills are an asset to all schools/centres, especially those with high numbers of Māori and Pacific students or bilingual units, and kura kaupapa, kohanga reo and aoga amata.

You can show the recruitment panel your language skills in te reo or Pacific languages by writing at least part of your CV and cover letter in the language you have skills in. How much you include depends on the school/centre you are applying to. For example, if you’re applying to teach at a kura kaupapa, kohanga reo or aoga amata, writing your CV and cover letter in te reo or Samoan shows the recruitment team that you have the necessary fluency for that position. If you’re applying to a bilingual unit or centre, writing your personal statement or teaching philosophy in English and te reo shows them that you can communicate equally well in both languages.

If you’re Māori Medium-trained and are applying for roles in mainstream classrooms, it can be helpful for the recruitment team if you describe your training on your CV in English, especially if the name of the course is in te reo as they may be will be interested in what your training has involved but may not be able to understand te reo.

If you’re a Māori or Pacific graduate and you don't speak a language other than English, your skills as a role model and your experience as a bicultural New Zealander are also valuable to schools. It is very important that you promote these skills in your application.

Some people can find it difficult to market themselves to a school. It can help if you’re prepared with:

  • a well laid out CV that highlights your particular skills
  • a short and informative cover letter/email, and
  • confident and practised interviewing skills.

Your CV should show the recruitment panel what skills you have to bring to the role you are applying for. Include your unique skills and experiences - things that the recruitment panel wouldn’t know if you didn’t tell them - such as "I trained in kapa haka" or "I spent two years living in Tonga". These are your points of difference and will influence your success more than generic statements such as ‘I am a skilled communicator’ or ‘I have sound planning skills’ – these are expected of all teachers.

It’s also important to keep in mind when writing your CV that teaching CVs look very different to business CVs. If you’re receiving advice on or help with your CV, ensure that it's from someone who is involved with the education sector such as a fellow teacher or education recruitment specialist.

You'll find guidance on each stage of the application process on this website. Click on any heading button at the bottom of this page to read more about that part of the process.

Contacting Schools

Aim to make the application process as comfortable for yourself as you can. Use your family, friends, and contacts for introductions and support when applying for jobs. Get to know people at a school by volunteering or relief teaching, or just making an appointment to visit.

Write up a sample phone conversation to a school and then practise your conversation before you actually call the school.

If you’d like to have a support person with you at your interview, ask the school first. Many schools will be happy for you to take a support person, current teaching colleague, or family members, to promote your skills at your interview. (Make sure your support person knows what you need from them).

Be strategic in the schools you target; choose schools that specialise in, or offer, the skills that you have, eg, te reo Māori bilingual unit. You need to be clear whether you wish to teach in a full immersion, bilingual or a mainstream classroom. When you make contact with the schools you'll also need to be accurate when describing the level of your language skills. This is also important when you are putting your name on the relieving lists at schools – if they have a bilingual unit and you are fluent in te reo, make sure you are on the bilingual teaching list as well as the ‘general’ list.

When targeting and contacting schools you don't always need to wait for a vacancy. It can pay to be proactive – if you’re keen on particular schools, make contact with the school's relevant management staff. Some like to meet teachers interested in their schools, particularly if you offer valuable skills. They do have limited time available, so don’t be discouraged if getting time with them seems a challenge. Always remember your goal of getting that great teaching position!

You may want to relief teach at the school; this is a very common way of teachers getting their first permanent position, as the school already knows you and what you can offer them. Alternatively, you may want to offer to work at the school voluntarily. This is also a great opportunity to let them see your skills and make an impression! Tell the school that you are relieving or volunteering for that you are looking for a long term role, as schools may think you are content with day-to-day relieving. This way, when they have a long-term vacancy come up, they know to tell you about it.


Strong networks are crucial for Māori and Pacific teachers. Often, teachers can first hear about teaching jobs through personal or professional connections. As well as telling the schools in your area that you're looking for work, let your extended family, friends and former colleagues, associate teachers and classmates know that you're interested in all opportunities. You never know what might come up.

Be open with any teachers and management you meet that you’re seeking a teaching position, whether relief or permanent. Face-to-face contact is always the best for making a lasting and positive impression.

Use community resources for support while you are looking for work. There are Māori and Pacific teacher networks, such as Ako Panuku for secondary Māori teachers. Research these groups and get in touch with them to find out how they work and how they could assist you.

Time commitment

Searching for a teaching position can be very time consuming, and for many it’s a job in itself. Finding time to search for vacancies, make contact with and visit schools/centres, write applications and start networking can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of commitments. Many Māori and Pacific teachers have family and/or church commitments that must come first in their lives. To make sure you find a job, try and timetable several hours a week when you can focus solely on your applications.


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Useful links

For more education resources, you can also visit:

Education Gazette: all vacancies are advertised in the official New Zealand Education Gazette publication – there is a search engine which makes it possible to search by subject and geographic region (and you can subscribe to be notified of vacancies meeting your criteria).

Ministry of Education: the Ministry of Education's website has a wealth of information on New Zealand's education system.

Te Kete Ipurangi: the online knowledge basket is New Zealand's bilingual education portal. It provides a wealth of information, resources, and curriculum materials to enhance teaching and learning, raise student achievement, and advance professional development for teaching staff and school managers.

Education Review Office: the ERO reviews all schools and early childhood services in New Zealand within a specified period and is a useful reference for New Zealand schools’ and services' performances.

Education Counts: an online tool with information about education statistics and research in New Zealand. Search for a particular school in NZ, and be presented with its profile, contact details, student popluation etc.

Education Counts: Maori Medium Schools directory.

New Zealand Teachers Council New Zealand Education Gazette New Zealand Qualifications Authority Immigration New Zealand