The New Zealand Tertiary Education (TEU) is the union representing the industrial and professional interests of more than 10,000 staff employed in the tertiary education sector across New Zealand. The TEU is the main union in the sector and its membership includes staff employed in all occupations in universities, polytechnics, institutes of technology, wānanga, other tertiary education providers and allied organisations.

The TEU is committed to organising collectively to safeguard and enhance the industrial, professional and educational goals of its membership, including:

  • negotiating collective employment agreements;
  • advising and representing staff with employment-relationship problems;
  • monitoring and acting on issues affecting members in their workplaces;
  • developing specialist research and policy to promote the working conditions of staff;
  • improving the quality of tertiary education in New Zealand; and
  • safeguarding the rights of Māori members and meeting the union’s responsibilities to wider Māori communities through the promotion of and adherence to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Founded in 2009, the TEU was established a result of the amalgamation of the Association of University Staff (AUS) and the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE). Both of those associations have a long history representing staff throughout the tertiary-education sector.

The AUS was founded as the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in 1923 and was originally an informal federation of branch associations, representatives of which formed a national standing committee. In 1967, AUT became an incorporated society with an office and staff based at Victoria University. On 1 July 1989, the Association of New Zealand University Library Staff merged with AUT and on 1 July 1992 a second merger, between AUT and the New Zealand University Technicians Union”  created AUS.

The origins of ASTE arise from the incorporation of the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutes (ATTI) which was founded in 1960 and grew as technical institutes were established throughout the 1960s.

In the mid 1980s, ATTI changed its name to the New Zealand Association of Polytechnic Teachers (NZAPT) which subsequent;ly merged with Teacher Colleges Association in 1998 to create ASTE.

In the 1990s, ASTE membership was extended to include staff in private training establishments, wānanga and other tertiary education providers.

The TEU is a democratic union with strong membership participation and is governed by an elected council. Policy is determined by an annual conference and implemented by a number of committees.

The TEU employs a number of staff at its national office, based in Wellington, and at each branch to provide assistance and advice to members.

Through membership of Education International, TEU is linked to international education groups worldwide, and a wide range of education unions and through membership of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the TEU works co-operatively with other unions to improve the position of all New Zealand workers.

The TEU is a registered trade union in accordance with the Employment Relations Act 2000.

More background information can be found in the following publications:

  • Professionals & Unionists, by Nicholas Tarling, sets out a history of the first seventy five years of the AUS and its predecessors, from 1923 to 1998.
  • The Reluctant Unionists – From Ivory Tower to the Real World , by Peter Franks, is a history of the New Zealand University Technicians’ Union, from 1971 to 1991.
  • A Shakeup Anyway, by Ruth Butterworth and Nicholas Tarling examines the Government and Universities in a decade of reform, and provides a useful historical background.

Read about the TEU logo – its history and origins here.