Budget cuts to teacher aide hours and a lack of teachers to fill positions are a double whammy for schools struggling with overloaded classes, the country's largest teacher's union says.
The New Zealand Educational Institute found 44 per cent of the 622 primary and intermediate school principals surveyed were planning to cut teacher aide hours to meet their budget in 2018.
NZEI President Lynda Stuart said schools were being forced to cut teacher aide hours because they were paid from operational budgets.
"Schools need a big boost to their operational funding so they can hire the teacher aides they need to support children's learning," she said.
The survey showed 40 per cent of principals would make hiring teacher aides their top priority if they had more funding.
A teacher shortage in Auckland was now also spreading to the rest of the country, with 14 per cent of schools surveyed saying they expected to be short a teacher and 20 per cent not sure whether they would fill roles.
This was worse in New Zealand's largest city, with 20 per cent of schools unable to fill at least one or two teaching positions, the union said.
Ms Stuart said better pay would attract more people to the profession.
"We also need to ensure we have enough teachers by attracting more great people to teaching, by respecting them as professionals, freeing them to teach and paying them properly."