The Ministry of Education fielded hundreds of calls from school staff either not paid or underpaid by Novopay yesterday, but the real "carnage" will be when schools resume today.
A ministry hotline set up to take calls from teachers unable to contact pay administrators on Waitangi Day had received 266 calls by 2pm. Another 88 had contacted the payroll company, Talent2, directly by noon.
Principals' Federation president Philip Harding was not surprised by the number of calls for help, but was "expecting carnage tomorrow" when teachers returned to school to tell their principals.
He had heard from one "very upset" principal who had recorded 30 errors.
On Tuesday night, payments that totalled $143,872,810.73 were made to 74,373 school staff in the first major pay cycle for the new school year, when many teachers were beginning new roles.
Ministry group manager Rebecca Elvy said while it was always a challenging time of year, more issues were expected because of Novopay.
Errors were expected to run to the "many hundreds".
"With a few exceptions, the calls have been about staff not being paid or being significantly underpaid."
The ministry had major banks process 60 direct payments yesterday, despite the public holiday, and would continue to do so as needed.
When the pre-pay report was delivered to schools last week, Sacred Heart College principal Lisl Prendergast reported the pay cycle as being Novopay's worst yet.
"It is a complete shambles. Far worse than ever - it's a shocker."
Mr Harding said he was due to meet education sector representatives today.
"If they come out and say Novopay can be saved, they better be right about that," he said.
"They can't afford to be wrong."
- The Dominion Post