Education in New Zealand

This section is an overview of the New Zealand Education System.  For further information visit the New Zealand Education ThinkNew website.

Type of Schools

Schooling in New Zealand is compulsory for all children aged 6-16 though most start when they turn five.

Schools are usually at three levels, primary from ages 5 to 10 (years 1 to 6), intermediate from ages 11-12 (years 7 and 8), and secondary from ages 13 to 18 (years 9-13). The intermediate years are sometimes integrated with either a primary or secondary school. 

New Zealand primary and intermediate schools are almost always co-educational (boys and girls together) whereas secondary schools can be either co-educational or boys or girls schools.

There are three funding and ownership models for schools in New Zealand. State schools are owned and run by the government. State integrated schools are schools of a special character – eg they may be run by a religious faith or use specialist education methods like Montessori. Integrated schools are privately owned but receive government funding. There are also fully private schools that largely funded by fees. The Education Provider pages on this site explain the type of schools offered in Taranaki.

The School Day, Terms and Holidays

Schools are open from Monday to Friday. The school day usually starts around 8.45 or 9am and runs to around 3.00-3.30pm.

In New Zealand the school year is the calendar year. There are four school terms:

  • Term 1 Late January to early April – followed by a two week break
  • Term 2 Mid-April to early July – followed by a two week break
  • Term 3 Mid-July to late September – followed by a two week break
  • Term 4 Mid-October to mid-December – followed by a six week summer break

The Curriculum

New Zealand has broad and balanced subject-based curriculum.  There is a compulsory national curriculum for Years l to 10. From Year 11, students specialise in subjects, as their post-secondary school plans and pathways for future careers become clearer. Students also participate in supporting and cultural activities outside the school hours.


Senior secondary students study towards a national qualification, National Certificate of Educational Achievement[1] (NCEA), controlled by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). There are particular requirements including passes in Mathematics and English for University Entrance.

NCEA has three academic levels:

  • Level 1 at Year 11 (usually 15 years of age);

  • Level 2 at Year 12 (Usually 16 years)

  • Level 3 at Year 13 (17 usually 17  years).

NCEA is a mixture of school­-administered tests and centrally-set examinations at the end of the year.

Provider Types and Qualifications - Tertiary

A board range of tertiary courses available to students, allowing you to study for the career of your choice. The three main types of provider are polytechnics (vocational study and degree diploma), Private training institutions (vocational study and may have some degree or diploma options) and Universities (Degree and Diploma).

Caring for students

All providers on this site are signatories to the Ministry of Education’s Code of Practice, which covers that standard of care required for providers who host international students. We take this responsibility very seriously. Staff with responsibility for students are trained in the code and are responsible for ensuring that schools and homestays in Taranaki offer a caring and quality experience.


International students studying in New Zealand for longer than 3 months require a student visa. For information on visa requirements please visit the Immigration New Zealand website