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Living in New Zealand

Moving to a new country is exciting and daunting.  Whether you come with a partner, family or on your own, there are challenges, but it can also be an amazing life-changing experience.

Aotearoa New Zealand is an unbeatable place to live and work. With spectacular landscapes, a relaxed lifestyle and unique culture that has a strong focus on our indigenous people - Māori - as well as our Pacific and Asian whānau (family) it’s a place for the world to call home.

With beaches within a 30-minute drive or less from most major towns and cities, ski fields and outdoor pursuits dotted across both the North and South Island, and thriving arts and culinary scenes, there really is something for everyone.  

You can find out more about moving to and living in Aotearoa New Zealand on the Immigration NZ website.

TEach in nz

Teaching in New Zealand

If you want to make an impact and inspire future generations to be curious, creative and ready to lead the world, we want you.

Teachers are in a trusted position and teaching in Aotearoa New Zealand is a unique experience. Whether you’re an early learning or school teacher, we know that for students to fulfil their full potential, they need guidance and support by being challenged and encouraged to explore different ideas and develop the kiwi ‘can do’ attitude to life and learning.  

UnderstandOurCulture

Understanding our culture

New Zealand is home to many cultures – Pacific, Asian, European and Māori to name a few. Being a teacher in New Zealand means you are likely to experience all or many of these cultures and having a basic understanding of them will help you settle into your role. 

As a teacher you will need to understand Māori culture, customs and language, and in some regions, this will also be the case for Pacifica cultures, customs and languages. The revitalising of Te Reo Māori (Māori language) is a big part of our education system and as a teacher you will be expected to help support this.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi)

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document. It takes its name from the place in the Bay of Islands where it was first signed, on 6 February 1840. Te Tiriti is an agreement, in Māori and English, that was made between the British Crown and about 540 Māori rangatira (chiefs).

Go to the NZ History website to find out more

Some basic Māori words and customs you will hear and experience

When you start teaching you will hear words like kaiako which means teacher or ākonga instead of students. Many schools also do what is called kapa haka (action songs) and assemblies will start with an opening and closing karakia (greeting). When you start at a school you may also be greeted with what is called a Pōwhiri (po-for-re). This is a welcome ceremony steeped in tradition.

You may like to build your awareness of Māori culture, customs and language independently.

If you work in Early Childhood Education, you can sign up for introductory online courses:

Dual Language Family 058

Early Childhood Education (0 – 6 years)

Early childhood services in Aotearoa are varied and include both parent-led and teacher-led services. Teacher-led services include privately owned and not-for-profit community-based services that provide both sessional and all-day programmes, such as a crèche or kindergarten. Parent-led services include Playcentres and certified Playgroups.

Another feature of early childhood services in New Zealand is that they may have a particular language and cultural focus such as Kōhanga Reo, Puna Reo (both Māori early childhood centres) and Aoga Amata (Samoan language based early childhood centre). Other services have a specific set of beliefs about teaching and learning, for example, Rudolph Steiner and Montessori.

The Correspondence School Te Kura provides distance early childhood education for young children who are unable to attend a service because of isolation, illness, special learning needs, or other special circumstances.

Go to the Education.govt.nz website to learn more about Early Learning

The way we teach

To support our youngest tamariki (children), we have Te Whāriki, the curriculum for early learning. The focus of Te Whāriki is always on supporting tamariki to develop the capabilities they need to be confident and competent learners.

The curriculum is designed to be inclusive, including gender and ethnicity, diversity of ability and learning needs, family structure and values, socio-economic status and religion. It holds the promise that all children will be empowered to learn with and alongside others.  

The curriculum is a framework that is organised into principles, strands, goals and learning outcomes.

The four principles are the foundations, while the strands describe the five areas of learning and development. The goals describe the characteristics needed for creating environments that support learning and the outcomes are broad statements of valued learning designed to inform planning and assessment.

Go to the Education.govt.nz website to find out more about Te Whāriki

Employment agreements are mandatory between employer and employees. Employment agreements can be collective or individual and vary depending on the early learning service; they will include your working terms and conditions such as pay, holiday and leave entitlements.

There are different collective agreements for early childhood and kindergarten teachers. Go to the Education.govt.nz website to find out more about employment agreements

primary and secondary education

Primary and secondary education

Education is free between the ages of five and 19 at state schools (schools that are government owned and funded) for all New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

Schooling is compulsory from age six to 16. In the majority of schools, children can start school the day they turn five years old (they don't have to wait until the start of a new school year). However, some schools have a policy of starting children at school together as a group at the start of each term (cohort entry).

The education system for New Zealand schools is made up of 13 Year levels. Primary education starts at Year 1 and goes to Year 8 (around 5–12 years of age). Secondary education goes from Year 9 to Year 13 (around 13–17 years of age).

Go to Education.govt.nz to find out more about education in New Zealand

The way we teach

At primary level, children are placed in a wide variety of learning situations. They are usually based in one classroom and may join with other classes for some activities. Class sizes vary but are generally smaller in the junior school. The primary school day typically begins at 9.00am and finishes at 3.00pm, with breaks mid-morning, lunchtime and occasionally mid-afternoon.

Most secondary schools operate between approximately 8.45am and 3.15pm. In secondary schools, students are usually grouped in form or home classes for administrative purposes, such as roll call. In years 9 and 10, students typically stay as a form or home class to study core subjects, and split into different classes for their options. At senior level, students go to different teachers for each subject they study.

Go to the Education.govt.nz to find out more about New Zealand’s school network

The National curriculum consists of The New Zealand curriculum (English medium) and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (Māori medium). Although they come from different perspectives, each starts with a vision of young people growing and realising their potential.

The curriculum is a framework that sets the direction for student learning and includes eight essential learning areas:

  • English
  • The arts
  • Health and physical education
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Science
  • Social sciences

The national framework is used by schools and their teachers to develop a student need focused local curriculum.  

Add the regional curriculum video.

Go to Education.govt.nz to find out more about the National Curriculum

 

Refreshing the curriculum

The current national curriculum is being refreshed over the next four years (2021 – 2026). The purpose of this refresh is to ensure it honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) and is inclusive, clear and easy to use. 

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) - Archives NZ website

Go to the Education.govt.nz website to find out more about the curriculum changes

From 2023, Aotearoa histories and Te Takanga o Te Wā (Māori history) will also be taught in all schools for the first time. This exciting change will help embed our Māori history into learning.

Go to Aotearoa Histories website to find out more

Primary teachers in state and state state-integrated schools and kura are covered by the terms and conditions of either the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement (PTCA), or an Individual Employment Agreement (IEA), with similar terms and conditions as the PTCA.

Primary teachers - Education.govt.nz website

Secondary teachers in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by the terms and conditions of either the Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement (STCA), or an Individual Employment Agreement (IEA), with similar terms and conditions as the STCA.

Secondary teachers - Education.govt.nz website

In New Zealand, salaries are paid on a fortnightly basis for teachers. As happens in many other countries, taxes and superannuation (pension) will be deducted - along with your ACC levy -prior to you receiving your final payment.

Go to the ACC website to find out more about the ACC levy

Go to the Education.govt.nz website to find out more about pay

Go to the Education.govt.nz website to find out more about superannuation

What you get paid

Once you have been offered a job, your salary needs to be assessed and set. This is done by Education Payroll. The level of your salary is based on a number of things including experience.

Teaching in a different education system means you will have a lot to learn about how the system works. If you are coming from a different country, there will also be cultural differences to understand, such as the Māori practices and language that we use in schools.  

The Ministry of Education funds a professional development support programme for overseas trained teachers (OTTs) with provisional certification in English and Māori Medium, at no cost to the teacher or school. This service is delivered by the University of Otago.

The programme supports teachers to develop effective teaching practices for students in a New Zealand teaching context. Workshops are designed to make the most of the knowledge and experience you bring to teaching in Aotearoa and are structured to include as many opportunities as possible for you to share learning and resources as well as meet other teachers.

You will have access to up-to-date information to help you with gain full certification and make a successful start to your teaching career in New Zealand.

Go to the Otago University website to find out more.

When you first move here, you will be allocated a mentor to support you during your transition to our system.  Depending on your teaching area you will get 10 weeks for primary, intermediate and special schools, while composite (years 7 – 10) and secondary schools will get 20 weeks.

Go to the Education.govt.nz website to find out more about staffing allowances

Teachers professional development is important as it allows you to grow and thrive. We have a network of regionally allocated professional learning and development. All PLD opportunities offered through regionally allocated PLD will align with one or more of the seven priorities that underpin it

The new priorities for English medium settings are:

  • cultural capability
  • local curriculum design
  • assessment for learning.

Go to the PLD website to find out more

Ready to move?

Once you have decided to live and work in New Zealand as a teacher, there are a number of important things you have to do. If you don’t have these things sorted, you will not be able to teach here.  Here is a suggested order of the things you need to complete to teach in New Zealand. You don’t have to follow this order.

Step one: get your qualifications assessed by New Zealand Qualifications Agency (NZQA)

Step two: apply to become a registered teacher with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

Step three: find a job Education Gazette

Step four:  apply for your visa through Immigration NZ

Step five (School Teachers only): have your salary assessed so you are paid the right amount for your experience. This step is done by your employer through Education Payroll.    

New Zealand visas

To live and work in New Zealand you need to have a valid work visa.

Early childhood and secondary school teachers are included on Immigration New Zealand's Green List as Tier two roles eligible for work to residence. Find out more here    

The three visas most used by teachers are:

Accredited Employer Work Visa: Criteria

  • Work in New Zealand for an accredited employer who has offered you at least 30 hours work a week.
  • Visa is valid for three years
  • This visa ties you to the employer.

Accredited Employer Work Visa | Immigration New Zealand

Working Holiday Visa: Criteria

  • Available to young people, usually aged 18 to 30, but 18 to 35 in a select few countries. They let you travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if you are from the UK or Canada.
  • You cannot accept a permanent job offer while on a New Zealand working holiday visa.
  • You must mainly be coming for a holiday
  • Have enough money to pay for a return ticket.

Working Holiday Visas | Immigration New Zealand

Partner of a Worker Work Visa: Criteria

  • Your partner must have a work visa that’s for more than 6 months.
  • You must be living in a genuine and stable relationshipwith your partner.
  • Your partner must support your application.

Partner of a Worker Work Visa | Immigration New Zealand

Setting up the basics

Setting up the basics

There are a few things you can do before you arrive in New Zealand, including applying for a New Zealand bank account and an IRD number.

You can get some practical tips here:

Living In New Zealand | Live and work New Zealand (immigration.govt.nz)

Early Childhood Teacher checklist

Early Childhood Teacher checklist
Get your qualifications assessed by NZQA

Get your qualifications assessed by NZQA


Apply to become a registered teacher with the Teaching Council

Apply to become a registered teacher with the Teaching Council


Find a job

Find a job. There may be other place jobs are listed:


Work out what visa you should apply for to come to New Zealand

Work out what visa you should apply for to come to New Zealand


Apply for visa

Apply for a visa and complete all the requirements set by Immigration NZ. This will vary depending on the visa you apply for.

School Teacher checklist

School Teacher checklist
Get your qualifications assessed by NZQA

Get your qualifications assessed by NZQA


Apply to become a registered teacher with the Teaching Council

Apply to become a registered teacher with the Teaching Council


Find a job

Find a job:


Work out what visa you need to apply for to come to New Zealand

Work out what visa you need to apply for to come to New Zealand


Got a job offer?

Got a job offer?

  • Apply for a visa and complete all the requirements set by Immigration NZ. This will vary depending on the visa you apply for.

Once accepted job

Once you have accepted a job, your employer needs to get your salary assessed so you get paid the right amount for your experience. This done by the employer and by Education Payroll