Purakaunui School secretary Jacque Ruston has not been paid since she started work at the school in August. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Nearly four months after starting as Purakaunui School's
secretary, Jacque Ruston still has not been paid under the
new Novopay system, despite Ministry of Education assurances
her pay issues would be sorted.
The single mother of two was again not paid in yesterday's
fortnightly pay round, leaving the ministry red-faced and
Ms Ruston is one of hundreds of education staff who have had
their pay bungled by Talent2's new payroll system, which was
introduced by the Ministry of Education in September.
Ms Ruston said she started the job in August, just before the
Novopay system was introduced, and seven pay cycles had gone
by without her being paid.
"I haven't been paid since I started working at the school.
"I'm quite astounded. It's amazing they still haven't paid me
after they have promised they would.
"My story has been well-documented with the Ministry of
Education and they've still let me down.
"You have to wonder at the extent of their ineptitude."
Ms Ruston said life had been very difficult, having to find
money to pay her mortgage, run her car and feed her two
primary school-aged children.
"I have taken bank loans, I've had meals at friends' places
and I've been offered interest-free loans from friends.
"We live simply. There's no room for special treats like
going to the movies."
She said families in her community had been supportive, and
she was philosophical about her situation.
"It makes you be more creative and resourceful. For the kids'
birthdays, we had treasure hunts and made presents instead of
buying them," she said.
She believed there were other education staff throughout the
country in worse predicaments than hers.
"My situation is minor compared to some other people around
"I don't want people to think I'm the worst-case scenario."
Ministry of Education group manager Rebecca Elvy apologised
"unreservedly" for the situation Ms Ruston was in.
"As a matter of urgency, we are investigating why Jacque did
not receive her pay today as promised.
"We have confirmed that Jacque's school has today paid her an
advance, and that she has agreed she will get the rest of her
pay on the next pay day - November 28."
Ms Elvy said 92,465 teachers and school support staff were
successfully paid in the latest Novopay pay cycle.
She said there were fewer than 20 non-payments and
underpayments identified so far, and records showed 494
transactions from the pay cycle had not been processed.
Not all missed transactions affected pay.
"The ministry has been working hard to ensure a successful
I'm pleased to see the figures are an improvement on previous
"However, although fewer than in previous pay cycles, some
people are still not being paid and that is not acceptable.
"We are working with Talent2 to ensure those people get paid
as soon as possible, and to iron out the technical bugs
remaining in the system that cause so much frustration for