The Government and teachers are at an "impasse", says Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin as teachers prepare to walk off the job once again, this time with a possible 50,000 workers ready to strike this month.
"The things the teachers are upset about are very real," Ms Martin told TVNZ1's Q+A.
"Their workloads are real, the number of students in their classrooms that need learning support are real, the administration burden that they have had is very real.
"But right now, this Government can only afford $1.2 billion to put into teacher salaries.
"Unfortunately the teachers don't believe us. So we are at an impasse."
Primary and secondary school teachers across the country voted to unite in a joint strike starting May 29 after turning down the Government's $1.2 billion pay offer.
When asked if teachers were being reasonable with their demands, Ms Martin said they were not being "realistic".
"This Government has multiple pressures on their finances."
The joint strike is said to be the largest ever industrial action by New Zealand teachers, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions.
PPTA president Jack Boyle said teachers "want the Government to find a solution, now".
"Our children cannot wait, and neither can our teachers."
Last month, education Minister Chris Hipkins appeared on Q+A after the last primary teacher pay offer was rejected and the then threat of strike action by primary teachers and principals was disappointing.
The Government, he added, "is dealing with a range of issues across the board - education is only one of them".
Q+A is on TVNZ 1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.