Written for the 2017 SPANZ Conference by Peter Gall (Principal, Papatoetoe High School
1996-2006) and member of the SPANZ Executive 2005-2012

As an organisation to support Secondary Principals SPANZ has continually responded to legislative and system change to provide best for its members.  The forming of SPANZ Union in 2008 is just one example and was a direct response to the Employment Relations Act requirement of collective bargaining being restricted to registered unions. 

Principals who were not members of the PPTA therefore had no voice at the negotiating table and gave the Executive a strong message at the 2007 AGM to “move forward with the process of registering as a union”. 

This decision was met with vitriol from the PPTA with the Ministry and NZSTA being very interested if not somewhat anxious bystanders in the process.  Rather than being a divisive move for Principals, which was the line being pushed by the objectors, SPANZ leadership at the time viewed the development as a positive opportunity to strengthen the voice of all Secondary Principals. 

That vision has become reality with the first joint negotiations in 2010 and subsequent settlements.


The benefits of being a SPANZ Union member is you have a voice during Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement negotiations, as well as receive industrial assistance in relation to your terms and conditions of employment.

On a Principals' behalf SPANZ Union will:

  • Negotiate with the Ministry of Education in respect to the Collective Agreement for Secondary Schools
  • Enter into dialogue with the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) on matters that affect the employment relationship between Secondary School Principals' and Board of Trustees
  • Endeavour to collaborate with the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and the NZ Secondary Principals' Council (NZSPC) of the PPTA
  • Appoint the SPANZ Legal representative, at least two members of the SPANZ Union and any other person it sees fit with the requisite industrial and negotiating skills
  • Will not provide general legal advice on industrial or employment matters - this is the preserve of SPANZ Legal