Finding teachers proves a challenge

Thursday August 27, 2015 Written by Published in Education

Filling teaching positions in the Cook Islands with locals is becoming increasingly harder, says the Ministry of Education.


Director of Human Resources Terry Utanga says the ministry is finding that many locals are going for jobs which pay more than teaching.

For example, he says they currently need an accounting teacher, but many people are sticking with higher paying accounting jobs rather than teaching it for less pay.

The Ministry of Education is advertising a range of teaching positions, both on Rarotonga and the outer islands.

There are five principal positions, eight secondary teaching positions at Tereora College, seven further primary and secondary positions on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua and two learning and teaching positions at the Ministry itself.

The northern group in particular has three positions to fill, including a principal at Rakahanga School, a teacher at Omoka School and an English teacher at Niua School.

Utanga says to entice people into teaching jobs in the Northern Islands, they are offering incentives.

The incentives are a recruitment and accommodation allowance and paid travel and freight at the start and end of the contract, including family members. 

Contracts are a maximum of four years and staff may elect to localise and stay longer on standard employment conditions.

Utanga says the northern islands present their own challenges in terms of isolation, so they are trying to find teachers with experience in similar environments.

“Most of the staff there are local, but there are positions which are sometimes hard to fill like a secondary maths or English teacher.”

For positions like these, he says they then widen the recruitment scope so they can ensure they find qualified teachers to go up north.

 “We have advertised widely, in New Zealand and other Pacific islands, including some of their media outlets.”

Utanga hopes Prime Minister Henry Puna’s visit to New Zealand will also have had an impact on Cook Islanders living in New Zealand who may want to come home and work as teachers. The PM is also Minister of Education.

While there are many challenges that come with working on the outer islands, Utanga says there are also many benefits.

“The experience of working in this kind of environment can be great for a career in teaching, and provide room for growth by overcoming the challenges.”

Utanga says they are hoping to find people with a passion for teaching, who will take up the challenge to give students in isolated areas a good education.

Anyone interested in applying for the positions can contact the HR division on 29357 or visit        

Leave a comment