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New Zealand Education Facts


The school system is designed according to a British model and it has been compulsory to attend school since 1877. Today, compulsory schooling for children between six and 16 years of age prevails. Almost everyone starts school at the age of five and most go to school for 13 years.

Many students attend a school near where they live. Schools generally have to guarantee a place for the children living in their catchment areas. The school is free of charge, but parents often have to pay various other fees.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of New Zealand, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

The individual schools have great responsibility for the content of the education and the distribution of the school’s resources. In the school boards, representatives of the students’ parents have a great influence. Religious instruction is optional. Several former private schools have been incorporated into the state school system. The vast majority of these so-called state-integrated schools are Catholic. There are also private schools where tuition is charged.

The Maoris have had the right to attend school for over 100 years, but for a long time no account was taken of their culture and language. Today, all children in the low school stage learn something about Maori culture and history and in more and more schools you can choose to read the Maori language. During the 1980s, schools, kura koopapa maori, were set up with teaching only in this language. Moorish culture and history can also be studied at university level. Few Maori children go on to higher education and still spend an average of fewer years in school than other New Zealand children.

There are eight state universities, as well as several teacher colleges and about 20 technical institutes. Auckland University is the largest, and Otaga University (in Dunedin on the South Island) the oldest. The universities are allocated grants in proportion to the number of students and the courses they read. The Government has prioritized higher education, for example through special investments in research.

Many students are referred to take special student loans. Students pay about a third of the study costs themselves. The study funding system has led to many students receiving high debts that they find difficult to repay, and educated New Zealanders have left the country for better paid jobs abroad. The criticism of the expensive student loans has led to former students living in New Zealand now having to pay interest on their student loans.

In the mid-2010s, the government allocated 18 percent of government spending to the education sector.

  • Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in New Zealand, including compulsory schooling and higher education.


Proportion of children starting primary school

99.1 percent (2017)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

15 (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

18.3 percent (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

18.3 percent (2016)



Parliament adopts legislation to reduce child poverty

December 18

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern presented a bill on combating child poverty in January 2018. Now all parties support the law, with only one MP voting against. The law establishes how poverty among children should be measured and sets goals for how it is to be combated.

Record high increase in minimum wage

December 19

From April 2019, the minimum wage will be raised from $ 16.50 to $ 17.70 per hour. Over two hundred thousand workers will benefit from the increase in the minimum wage, which is the highest single increase to date. The Labor-led coalition government promised when it took office in 2017 to raise the minimum wage from $ 15.75 to $ 20 in 2021.


Over 100,000 cows will be thinned out

30 May

The government and those responsible for agriculture have decided to have 126,000 cows killed to stop Mycoplasma bovis disease. It can, among other things, cause respiratory tract infections in cows. New Zealand is the first country in the world to carry out a mass slaughter to try to eradicate the disease.

The government is investing in welfare in the first budget

May 17

The government presents a budget in which over 4 billion New Zealand dollars are to be spent on extra health care investments, including hospital renovations. The government also wants to give extra money, 1.6 billion New Zealand dollars, to the education sector to, among other things, recruit new teachers.


New Zealand stops oil and gas drilling at sea

April 12

As a way to further protect the climate and to live up to commitments in the climate agreement, the government announces that it will put a stop to exploration for oil and gas at sea. However, the drilling already underway will not be affected.


Pacific free trade agreement clear

March 8th

New Zealand, together with ten other countries, signs the Free Trade Agreement (CPTPP) (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Parthership). The agreement is also called TPP-11 and is a slightly revised version of TPP (see Foreign Trade). The changes are a result of the US withdrawing from the TPP before it came into force. The CPTPP is presented as a counter to the anti-free-trade policy pursued by US President Donald Trump.


New leaders for the Nationalist Party

February 27th

Simon Bridges becomes new leader of the Nationalist Party. The 41-year-old Bridges is Maori as is the new deputy leader Paula Bennet.

Investigation of abuse against cared for children

February 1st

A so-called royal commission is set up by the government to investigate whether abuses have been committed against children and young people in state orphanages, hospitals, youth prisons etc.. The period to be examined by the Commission is 1950-1999. Interior Minister Tracey Martin says the investigation will not least focus on how Maoris, which made up a large proportion of the children who have been taken care of, have been affected.


Prime Minister Ardern is expecting children

January 19

Jacinda Ardern announces on social media that she will have children in June. She will become the second female head of state ever, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto 1990, who gives birth to children while she is prime minister. During the six weeks she will be on parental leave, the Deputy Prime Minister, NZF leader Winston Peters, will take over the post of head of government.

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