Wellington teacher pleads for help after 200 failed job applications despite glowing references, qualifications

An unemployed Wellington teacher is pleading for help after being rejected over 200 job applications despite being fully qualified, with good references and years of experience.

This month, the Government said they'll allow 300 foreign teachers into New Zealand to fill in our gaps. 

But the thing is - we've got qualified, experienced teachers already here looking for work, including Mazlinah Noor, who has been teaching for decades in New Zealand and overseas.

She left a teaching gig in Auckland for Wellington four years ago and since then has been trying to find permanent work as a primary school teacher.

Speaking to The Project on Wednesday, Noor said she had sent out over 200 job applications, but she's had less than 10 interviews and no job offers.

The teaching union told The Project: "It's unusual that a qualified and experienced teacher would struggle to find a permanent position in the Wellington region."

So why is Mazlinah struggling?

She has glowing references from former student's parents including: 

"We miss you loads. You were the most incredible, kind, effective teacher for my daughter starting school."

"She taught my daughter ..she was hands down the loveliest teacher. My daughter adored her and still talks about her now."

"She was warm, empathetic and nurturing to all the tamariki. My daughter went from being nervous and ambivalent about school to loving it."

Noor said it's likely due to discrimination.

"I suppose it's mainly because I'm a Muslim, I put on the hijab, I'm Asian, my name sounds a bit funny as it's not a usual name perhaps," she said.

"In one of the interviews, I haven't said anything, I just entered the room and then one of the interviewers actually looked at me and just rolled her eyes."

She said since going public with her story a few days ago, she has also been in contact with other people with similar stories.

"I've had one or two other people saying to me that they have had similar experiences," Noor said.

"One of them actually had over 400 applications and didn't get anything. One of them said he actually had to change his name in order to just get to an interview and I feel that we shouldn't have to do these things. 

"It should just be about - you want somebody with qualifications, I've got that. You want somebody with experience, I've got that. What more?"

Politics and public policy lecturer at Auckland University Dr Lara Greaves said there's a "considerable amount of discrimination towards Muslim New Zealanders".

"We did a survey which found 30 percent of New Zealanders openly admit to feeling threatened by Muslims. That's a huge amount."

She said a lot of people are, whether consciously or not, judging applicants by their name instead of their qualification.

"It could be a different ethnicity, different culture, different language, different gender but they are seeing that name and they are discriminating against that person… that base level prejudice is there in our society and is prevalent in lots of groups."