Watch: Jacinda Ardern, in impromptu speech to striking teachers, asks them to 'work with' Govt to 'move forward'

Jacinda Ardern has addressed a crowd who gathered outside Parliament during today's teachers' strike, in an impromptu speech.

About 29,000 primary and intermediate teachers who belong to the NZEI union have walked out of classrooms in the first strike for 24 years over pay and work conditions.

In the big cities and in small towns teachers turned out in force. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister told the throng of Wellington teachers the country's education system is in need of "radical change" but that it "takes time".

Ms Ardern said she "wasn't scheduled to be here" but decided to speak to the crowd after seeing them "streaming" through and thought she "could not not be here".

"I didn't have this sense of 'them and us' - I just had the sense of 'us'. You're all here because you're passionate about kids and you know, as we know, that the education system has the power to overcome so many of the issues and challenges we face as a country - and you are the frontline of that," Ms Ardern said.

She continued: "There's a reason that I put myself into the portfolio of Minister for Child Poverty Reduction - because I believe, and I know, that my motivation in politics is kids, just like your motivation of what you do is kids. There is no you and us, there is only us. That means that we have to take on board every challenge that you've raised."

Ms Ardern said there is "so much more work to do", and asked the crowd to work with Government to implement change.

"I am here today to ask you to work with us as we try to move forward," she said.

"We know there's a lot to do, and we want to work with you as we do it. Thank you for the work that you do."

Ms Ardern later added, "There was a good reason why I was sworn into Parliament with my social studies teacher who was there with me, and when I was made Prime Minister, it was my social studies teacher who stood with me when I signed that warrant of responsibility."

"We will keep working with you, but in the meantime, thank you for what you do for all of us."


The Prime Minister told the throngs of Wellington teachers the country is in need of “radical change”. Source: 1 NEWS