“We always have tamariki at heart”

“We always have tamariki at heart”

Supporting tamariki and whānau to thrive is something we all want to strive for - but some of Aotearoa’s most needed workers are undervalued for this important mahi.

These workers in non-government organisations are paid up to 36% less than their social worker colleagues at Oranga Tamariki. 

A pay equity claim brought by the PSA against five NGOs seeks to redress this gap.

PSA Organiser Nanette Cormack says the claim has reached a significant milestone. 

“The claim has found NGO social worker roles are comparable to their public service colleagues. Now we need to tell their stories.”


Stories like that of social worker, Pania Tulia (Ngāti Porou, Sāmoa). Pania says her work is about much more than the pay. But pay equity would send the message that her work is valued.

“We’re whānau-centric providers who always have tamariki at the heart of what we do and can build relationships with whānau which help them get the support they need.

“That work needs recognition, starting with equitable pay with our colleagues at Oranga Tamariki. We’re on the same team!”

On any given day, Pania is in homes assessing client needs, supporting whānau to achieve their goals, advocating for them with agencies, or handing out food parcels.  And it doesn’t stop there. 

“I’m always doing something to contribute whether that’s on a board or advisory group or participating in my community - a community where those who access our services live.”


Like Pania, PSA members Cathy Donald and Stephanie Brown can see the difference their work makes. 

“We are part of the communities we work with, and as NGOs we can respond to community needs with innovative programmes, if funding allows,” Cathy says.

Cathy also reflects that working for an NGO has a different feel to it. That’s why she chose it over the lure of public sector wages.

“For me it is about having the time and space to make a difference by building relationships with my clients and walking alongside them.”


Stephanie says the personal impact this claim could have would be life-changing.

 “If I think about it too much I would cry. It is about our work being valued. Practical things like I will be able to go to the dentist, I can buy shoes or clothing when I need things. We work hard. Our work is important, and it needs to be recognised.”

The claim is seeking pay parity for all types of work supporting whānau, including social workers, whānau support workers and other comparable roles. It also includes non-registered social workers who bring other qualifications and experiences to their mahi.

To support and strengthen our claim, you could help recruit a workmate, or become an equal pay advocate at psa.org.nz/equal-pay

The Empty Went Away

Main image: PSA members Stephanie Brown, Pania Tulia and Cathy Donald

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