12 Dec 2017

Teachers leaving Auckland for cheaper houses

8:56 pm on 12 December 2017

Nearly half of Auckland primary schools are finishing the year unsure if they will start 2018 with a full complement of teachers, a survey indicates.

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Photo: RNZ

The Educational Institute survey of primary and intermediate principals found one in five Auckland schools expected to start next year with teaching vacancies and one in four was still not sure of their situation.

Principals had reported significant teacher shortages this year and blamed high house prices and bad traffic for the problem.

Some of the teachers who are leaving Auckland at the end of this year told RNZ News that house prices were driving their decision.

Morgan Johnston is leaving her job at Ponsonby Primary School at the end of this year to work in Otautau, a small town an hour-and-a-half from Queenstown.

She said house prices were behind the move and she had already purchased a house in Otautau where three-bedroom villas were going for about $150,000.

"If I was to stay here I'm constantly paying about triple the amount a fortnight on rent compared to what I'll be paying on mortgage payments so it was a no-brainer for me really."

Aucklander Deanna Wang said house prices were also driving her and her husband out of the city.

She said she had quit her job of four years at an Auckland primary school and was now looking for work elsewhere in the North Island.

"We want to be able to save up and get something that we don't have to be paying off a loan for for so many years and be really trying to make ends meet just to pay our mortgage," Mrs Wang said.

But not everyone is put off by Auckland's traffic and house prices.

Nicole Rutherford from Dunedin is about to complete her first year as a teacher at Auckland's Randwick Park School and said she had no plans to leave.

"I've hit the jackpot in the school that I'm working in because it's such a supportive staff, they're just amazing, they provide a lot of help, and the social life as well, there's a lot more to do, and the kids are great, I just absolutely love them, they've got such personalities and it's just a completely different environment to what I'm used to."

However, teachers like Ms Rutherford appeared to be a minority.

Finlayson Park School principal Shirley Maihi said her staff were stretched this term to cover the loss of three teachers who left the city because of Auckland's high housing costs.

"We've had teachers that have left to live elsewhere in New Zealand because of the costs of living in Auckland - just haven't been able to save for a house or even their rental has been so high," she said.

Ms Maihi said she had filled all but one of her vacancies for next year by shoulder-tapping student teachers and the school would start 2018 with five first-year teachers.

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