Panorama of a bach

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.

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.  

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:

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

There are language competency requirements to start studying in an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme and to register as a teacher in New Zealand.

Language competency requirements look at the language skills you have in te reo Māori and English. You need to show skills in one or other of these languages.

You can show you have these skills in different ways. You can provide different evidence to show your skills. There are now lots of different types of English Language tests you can use. This is a change from what you may have heard before, where there was just one type of test you could use.

If you are thinking of studying an ITE programme or looking to register as a teacher in Aotearoa, you can check the requirements on a one-page fact sheet in nine Pacific languages and English below:

One page factsheet - English

One page factsheet - Gagana Sāmoa

One page factsheet - Gagana Tokelau

One page factsheet - Lea Faka-Tonga

One page factsheet - Fäeag Rotuḁm

One page factsheet - Gana Tuvalu

One page factsheet - Te reo Māori Kūki ‘Aīrani

One page factsheet - Vosa vaka-Viti

One page factsheet - vagahau Niue

One page factsheet - te Taetae ni Kiribati 

 

You can find more information on the requirements in a three-page booklet in nine Pacific languages and English below:

English Language Requirements - vagahau Niue

English Language requirements - gagana Sāmoa

English language requirements - te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani

English language requirements - Te Taetae ni kiribati

English language requirements - Vosa vaka-Viti

English language requirements - Fäeag Rotuḁm

English language requirements - lea faka-Tonga

English language requirements - te gana Tuvalu

English language requirements - gagana Tokelau

English language requirements - English

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.

 

Assessing your salary

When you get appointed to a teaching job in New Zealand, you need to get your salary assessed by completing the one of the salary assessment application forms here.

Your hiring school will help you complete the form and submit it along with supporting documents to the Salary Assessment Unit on your behalf.

You don’t need to wait until you get to New Zealand, or until you have a NZ bank account or IRD number to get assessed. The earlier you apply for a salary assessment after your appointment the better as it can take several weeks.

 

What will determine my salary?

Your salary will be determined by your teacher certification status, your qualifications, and the experience you bring to the role. Below is a summary of how each of these components are used to determine your salary.

 

NZ teacher certification

  • If you hold NZ teacher certification granted by the NZ Teaching Council, you will be paid on the trained teachers’ salary scale.
  • If you have been awarded a New Zealand initial teacher education qualification, or an overseas initial teacher education qualification (that has either been pre-approved or assessed by NZQA as containing the core components of a New Zealand initial teacher education qualification) you may be able to be placed on the trained teachers’ salary scale if these qualifications have been evidenced in your application while an application for NZ teacher certification is being processed.
  • If you do not hold NZ teacher certification or do not hold/cannot evidence an initial teacher education qualification you will be placed on the untrained teachers’ salary scale.

Qualifications

  • The qualifications you hold will place you in a qualification group, and each qualification group has an entry step and a maximum step on the salary scale.
  • There are two types of qualification:
    • initial teacher education qualifications
    • subject or specialist qualification (a qualification that isn’t an initial teacher education qualification – it could be a Bachelor of Arts, or a Masters in Science, for example)
  • Each qualification has a level and type on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). That level and type helps us place you in the correct qualification group and step.
  • If you hold a qualification or qualifications gained overseas, you may need to have those qualifications assessed by NZQA for comparability to New Zealand qualifications. More information can be found here 
  • You may have a pre-approved teaching qualification from overseas. That list is available here  If your teaching qualification includes the subject or specialism then you do not have to have it assessed by NZQA.
  • Some initial teacher education qualifications contain sufficient study in subject or specialist areas to also be considered subject or specialist qualifications. If you believe this is the case for your qualification then you will need to supply an IQA to confirm the subject or specialism component of your qualification. Note – the assessment for subject or specialism is only completed when requesting a “Teaching IQA”.

Experience

  • Previous teaching or relevant work experience can be given either full, half or one-third salary credit.
    • Full credit means that one year of full-time service places you one step further up the scale.
    • Half-credit means that one year of full-time service places you six months closer to progressing to the next step up the scale (instead of having to work a full year before progressing to the next step).
    • One-third credit means that one year of full-time service places you four months closer to progressing to the next step up the scale (instead of having to work a full year before progressing to the next step).
  • If you have previous teaching experience, then you may be given full credit for that service (The collective agreements list the types of teaching service that are recognised for salary purposes, for example, if the teaching service was at a NZ state school or school subject to state inspection.)
  • If you have previous relevant work experience that your employing principal considers to be relevant to your curriculum or pastoral duties, you may be given salary credit, depending on what vocational qualifications were held at the time.
    • If you held a vocational qualification that was level 5 or above on the NZQF at the time you did the work, you may be given half credit.
    • If you held a vocational qualification that was level 4 on the NZQF at the time you did the work, you may be given one-third credit.
    • If you didn’t hold a vocational qualification that was at least level 4 on the NZQF at the time you did the work, you may be given one-third credit up to a maximum of two salary steps.

 

Type of service

Condition at time of service

Type of salary credit given

Overseas teaching service in a state school or school subject to state inspection

Teaching qualification/registration in relevant country held

Full credit – eg: two years of full-time service places you two steps further up the scale from the entry step for your qualification group

Previous relevant work experience that your employing principal considers to be relevant to your curriculum or pastoral duties (eg: chef)

Vocational qualification at level 5 on the NZQF held

Half credit – eg: two years of full-time service places you one step further up the scale from the entry step for your qualification group

Previous relevant work experience that your employing principal considers to be relevant to your curriculum or pastoral duties (eg: chef)

Vocational qualification at level 4 on the NZQF held

One-third credit – eg: one year of full-time service places you four months closer to progressing to the next step up the scale from the entry step for your qualification group

Previous relevant work experience that your employing principal considers to be relevant to your curriculum or pastoral duties (eg: chef)

No vocational qualification held

One-third credit up to a maximum of two steps – eg: ten years of full-time service will place you two steps further up the scale from the entry step for your qualification group

 

What do I need to provide?

What do I need to provide?

Top tips

A completed Salary Assessment for teachers (NOVO7t) form, available from https://www.edpay.govt.nz/site/forms/edpay-forms/default.aspx

-          You can complete the form electronically, including the declaration section.

-          Make sure you include your full name (including your middle name/s) in the declaration to ‘electronically’ sign it.

-          Your employing school will need to complete part of the form too – they will help you complete it.

-          Use the checklist on the very front page to make sure that you have everything you need.

A copy of each qualification noted in the application form

-          Each qualification submitted should include the date that you became eligible to graduate (not just the date of the graduation ceremony).

-          If you hold an overseas qualification that is not exempt from assessment, you must provide the NZQA International Qualification Assessment (IQA) of that qualification.

Statements of service for any previous teaching or relevant work experience you want to be recognised

-          Each statement of service needs to be on the employer’s letterhead and signed by the employer.

-          Statements of service must provide exact start and end dates. (e.g.: 12 April 2002 – 14 July 2007). If only the month and year is provided, credit will be given from the last day of the starting month until the first day of the end month. (e.g.: April 2002 – July 2007 will be credited as 30 April 2002 to 1 July 2007)

-          If the statement of service is dated before the end date of the job, service will be calculated up until the date of the statement of service not the end date of the job.

-          The statement of service must state whether the work was full-time or part-time, and if part-time how many hours. Average hours are not sufficient and if a range of hours is provided the lowest number will be used in the calculation (e.g. between 4 and 12 hours a week – the calculation will be based on 4 hours).

Certified copies of all of your supporting documents

-          You need to provide certified copies of any supporting documents; more information is available here: https://www.edpay.govt.nz/Site/Tools_to_help_you/A-Z-of-Payroll/C/Certified-true-copy.aspx.

-          Your school principal can certify your documents

 

 

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

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

There are language competency requirements to start studying in an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme and to register as a teacher in New Zealand.

Language competency requirements look at the language skills you have in te reo Māori and English. You need to show skills in one or other of these languages.

You can show you have these skills in different ways. You can provide different evidence to show your skills. There are now lots of different types of English Language tests you can use. This is a change from what you may have heard before, where there was just one type of test you could use.

If you are thinking of studying an ITE programme or looking to register as a teacher in Aotearoa, you can check the requirements on a one-page fact sheet in nine Pacific languages and English below:

One page factsheet - English

One page factsheet - Gagana Sāmoa

One page factsheet - Gagana Tokelau

One page factsheet - Lea Faka-Tonga

One page factsheet - Fäeag Rotuḁm

One page factsheet - Gana Tuvalu

One page factsheet - Te reo Māori Kūki ‘Aīrani

One page factsheet - Vosa vaka-Viti

One page factsheet - vagahau Niue

One page factsheet - te Taetae ni Kiribati 

 

You can find more information on the requirements in a three-page booklet in nine Pacific languages and English below:

English Language Requirements - vagahau Niue

English Language requirements - gagana Sāmoa

English language requirements - te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani

English language requirements - Te Taetae ni kiribati

English language requirements - Vosa vaka-Viti

English language requirements - Fäeag Rotuḁm

English language requirements - lea faka-Tonga

English language requirements - te gana Tuvalu

English language requirements - gagana Tokelau

English language requirements - English

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

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