How Two Filipino Women Helped Migrate Thousands of NZ Teachers


New Zealand is home to almost 72,000 Filipino migrants. Many of them are women who are arriving to fill the nation’s teacher shortage. Two women have taken the initiative to start a support group to help navigate immigration, recognize teaching qualifications, and find jobs.

Multiple questions need to be answered on a common basis to address the lingering doubts in people’s hearts.

“Is there any way to expedite my teaching registration aside from emailing the teaching council?” asks a prospective teacher.

“Was anyone here assessed in NZQA and then directed to WES for verification?” asks another.

A Growing Community

The Pioneering Pinoy Teachers in NZ Facebook group has 23,000 members. Vilma Leonidas, a teacher in Auckland, founded the group. She explained the difficulties many immigrant teachers face.

Leonidas and another teacher, Penny Cajipe, both run Facebook support groups. They highlight the challenges in navigating the system and the benefits of guidance in one’s native language.

In the Philippines, Leonidas holds a doctorate in philosophy. She expected this to guarantee a teaching job. However, the process was not straightforward.

During the pandemic, Leonidas struggled to find work due to New Zealand’s strict lockdowns. Eventually, she received a teaching certificate and a scholarship for a training program. Now, she teaches seventh grade as a substitute.

Sharing Hard-Earned Knowledge

Leonidas realized her long process could help others settle in New Zealand with fewer difficulties. Cajipe felt the same, having endured a similar path.

“What if other teachers in the Philippines also dream of teaching here for a better future?” Cajipe asked. This question inspired her to start her support page.

“Whatever you have, share it,” Leonidas said. “Not everything is about money. Help without expecting any return.”

 Leaving a Legacy

“God sees our hearts,” Leonidas emphasized. “That’s the legacy we need to leave behind, especially among teachers.”

The support groups have become a crucial resource for Filipino teachers in New Zealand. They provide guidance, answer questions, and offer a sense of community.

By sharing their experiences, Leonidas and Cajipe help new arrivals navigate the complex process of becoming certified teachers in New Zealand.

A Growing Impact

As more Filipino teachers join these groups, the impact of Leonidas and Cajipe’s efforts continues to grow. They help ease the transition for many aspiring educators.

With the ongoing teacher shortage in New Zealand, the support network will likely play an even more significant role. It ensures that talented educators can start their new lives with confidence.

The efforts of Leonidas and Cajipe demonstrate the power of community and support. Their work is making a difference in the lives of many Filipino teachers in New Zealand.