Settling Down

For the first couple of weeks you will likely be feeling like you are on holiday. New sights, sounds, smells, and people – exciting, intriguing and at times . . . . just a little scary.

Settling into a new way of life in New Zealand can, at first, be very unsettling and frightening, but just like the rest of the journey, taking things one step at a time will make the process a lot more pleasurable.

It is a very good idea to start the process of attending to the requirements for staying in New Zealand as soon as possible after arriving in the country. This does not mean you need to forego enjoying some ‘holiday’ time to explore and enjoy your new environment, but this is a good time to get some of the long term plans for staying, in motion. For example look at getting all the official documentation, registrations and forms sorted out. Not only will you begin to feel more at ‘home’ but it will benefit you in the long run.

6 things to do to help you settle in

Settling into a new way of life in New Zealand can, at first, be very unsettling and frightening. Everything will be strange; the language (even if you fluent in English), the way things are done, the social norms, legal requirements and so much more. At times it will seem that the list just gets longer, never shorter and that you will never get your head around some things. Relax!

The good news is the feeling is quite normal and while it can get a little hectic at times there is an immense amount of help at hand, beginning right here in the ePAK.

As you did when planning your move take some time to draw up a ‘to do’ list. It will help you to keep things in perspective, it will also allow you to prioritise and it can help to prevent you overlooking something important. To help you get your list started here are six things to do which will help you settle in;

  1. Contact your nearest Settlement Support New Zealand office.
  2. If you haven’t found work yet, continue looking for a job.
  3. Find a General Practitioner for you and your family
  4. Education
  5. Apply for a New Zealand driver’s license
  6. Apply for your IRD (Internal Revenue) number

Each of these points is going to have a long term effect on your stay in New Zealand and while some of these points have some pre-requisites the sooner you get the process started and completed the more comfortable you will feel. So, let’s take a closer at each point;

Contact Settlement Support

Settling into a new way of life in New Zealand can, at first, be very unsettling and frightening, but just like the rest of the journey, taking things one step at a time will make the process a lot more pleasurable.

Settlement Support New Zealand is an Immigration New Zealand initiative which provides a clear point of contact for new migrants in local areas around New Zealand. There are 18 Settlement Support NZ offices around the country, so access to free information is always near.

Their service focuses on the local area where you are living, so you get information that fits with where you are, and you can talk things through with someone who is very experienced and who really understands the challenges you are facing. They can also connect you with others who have recently arrived in New Zealand.

Visit their website at

You can also call them on 09 625 2440

Keep looking for work

Unless you are of ‘independent means’ or perhaps as it is more commonly known, have a huge bank balance, the need to find a job will become a priority sooner or later. If you have not arranged employment before arriving you will find the New Zealand job market as challenging as anywhere else even for skilled migrants.

Businesses in New Zealand, for the most part, are small with the average company employing between five and ten staff. As a result job and personality ‘fit’ are very high on the list of requirements of any potential employer. The more experience and qualifications you can present the greater your chances of finding employment in your preferred field. Still, it is not uncommon for newly arrived migrants to start working outside of their field or accept a more junior position in order to ‘get their foot in the door’ in the job market.

As a result of the realities of the job market it is highly recommended that you begin your search for employment well in advance of your departure for New Zealand. While you cannot actually apply for specific positions too far ahead of time, familiarise yourself with the job market in the area where you are going to be living. Remember, one of the reasons you chose that particular area was because of the job opportunities, deepen your knowledge and explore all the possible sources of job information.

Make sure you have all the necessary documents you are going to need for applications and interviews. One of the most important of these is your CV. It has been estimated a prospective employer will spend about 40 seconds on the first scan of a CV and the question then has to be; will your CV bring him or her back for a second look?

A basic checklist for your CV.

Question Yes / No

  1. Is your CV easy to read and does it flow nicely?
  2. Do you have a simple font such as Arial or Times Roman?
  3. Is each section clearly headed?
  4. Is your spelling and grammar perfect?
  5. Are your contact details easy to find?
  6. Is there reasonable spacing on your CV to help with reading?
  7. Does your CV list the daily activities you performed in your last job?
  8. Do your job titles match New Zealand job titles?
  9. Have you answered the key points the job advert is looking for?
  10. Is your CV clear as to what type of person you are, what your strengths are and what position you are looking for?

It is important to discuss your CV with your emigration agent as the commonly accepted format and content varies from country to country. It is also worthwhile considering having your CV professionally written for the New Zealand market, just be sure you obtain a ‘soft’ copy in an editable format which will allow you to update your CV as required.

It is also important to consider using an employment agent to help you find employment. Bear in mind though most of the time an agent will want a candidate with a work visa, as this will mean placing them more quickly and involves less complicated dealings with the employer. However, do not rely solely on agents to find you work, make sure you follow up with employers directly.

Before you can accept a position and start working in New Zealand you must have a work visa. Not having one does not prevent you from looking for work though.

There are more than 400 accredited employers in New Zealand, which means they work in conjunction with immigration and understand how the processes work. If you can secure an offer of employment from one of these employers, it will very likely ease the process to secure your stay in New Zealand. The same cannot be said for non-accredited employers though. A lot of employers are under the impression, incorrectly so, that offering somebody a job without a work visa is a time consuming task. This is not the case at all.

Employers can make job offers subject to the candidate obtaining a work permit, and this carries no risk for the employer. The Department of Immigration states that their target for processing visa applications is 95% of application within 5 – 20 working days. We have found that it is often much faster than this, depending on the type of work and any other issues such as medical conditions etc. Most currently employed candidates cannot resign and take up employment in less time than that so the process time holds no disadvantage for a migrant candidate. It is also important the employers understand they will not be required to deal with the Immigration Department, other than to sign the necessary paperwork and confirm the offer of employment to the case officer.

Again, it is important to remember not to rely on employment agents alone to try and secure work, the standard response is normally that you need a visa first. This is mostly an excuse by the agents as they are commission based and do not want to put forward a candidate who must still obtain a visa as that will mean them doing more work than they would for a candidate who already has one. It is simple economics, nothing more. Candidates must apply to companies directly as much as possible and we have seen the highest rate of success with people who adopt this approach. It is also important to note that the offer of employment must be in an area that you can demonstrate experience in and must meet the minimum salary requirements, depending on the type of job.

Job Search Resources

There are a number of resources through which you can search for available jobs. As well as and, try, this is a government site and has a large amount of links to various job search links.

Also make sure to read the Situations Vacant sections of the major newspapers or check online:

Find a GP

In New Zealand, comprehensive life-long medical care is available to all citizens, residents and work-permit holders who have been issued with a work permit for a minimum of two years. If you meet these criteria, then your partner and children aged 19 years or under will also be eligible for publicly funded healthcare. See the Ministry of Health website for more detail about eligibility.

Doctors – Your first point of contact in the New Zealand health system will probably be your GP (general practitioner), also known as your family doctor. New Zealand has about 3,200 GPs located in almost every city, suburb and town throughout the country. You can find the GP nearest you by looking up ‘Registered medical practitioners & medical centres’ in the front of the White Pages.

Registration – It’s important to find and register with a GP as soon as you can after you arrive in the country. Registering is free and easy. Simply tell the doctor’s receptionist your address, phone number, and the names and ages of your family. You can choose which GP to register with and your doctor does not have to be in your suburb. If you would prefer a female GP, for example, or a GP who shares your national or ethnic background, you can choose a doctor you are comfortable with. You are also free to change your GP at any time.

You will probably pay less as a patient if you register with a Public Health Organisation (PHO). That’s because PHOs receive government funding on the basis of need, with poorer areas attracting the largest subsidies. Most GPs belong to PHOs and when you register with a GP you will usually be enrolled as a member of the PHO at the same time. If your GP is not a member of a PHO, you can transfer to one who is. You can only enroll in one PHO at a time.

It can sometimes take about three months after submitting an application to a PHO to receive lower priced care. It’s advisable therefore to join a medical practice and enroll with a PHO sooner rather than later. Bring along your passport and work permit.

Opening hours – Most GPs are open during what are known as “surgery hours”. These are generally 8:00am-6:00pm. Some practices are also open one or two evenings a week, and sometimes on Saturday mornings. GPs will usually see you on the day you make an appointment. The government does not fund the public health system generously enough to allow most hospital treatments, other than accident/ emergency care, to be carried out immediately. Waiting times for surgery vary from hospital to hospital.

Emergencies – Should you have an emergency, most GPs will let you make an immediate appointment or they will make home visits. Depending on what has happened, they may also recommend that you go directly to the hospital.

Medical examinations – You have the right to have a friend or support person with you during a medical examination. Female patients may also request that a female nurse or other female staff member be present during examinations by a male nurse or doctor. Routine services such as cervical screening, blood pressure checks and immunization are often carried out by the GP’s Practice Nurse.

Costs – Every New Zealander pays to visit a doctor if they are able. The Government partly subsidizes the cost of GP visits for patients aged under 18 and those aged 45 and over. Everyone else pays the full cost of treatment, but costs vary from area to area. There is an additional charge for house calls as well as visits to a GP on the weekend or at night. Lower charges may apply if you have a Community Services Card or High Use Health Card.

Further information:  – the Health and Disability Commissioner is an independent agency dealing with patient rights.  offers easy access to popular brochures on health matters. – the Ministry of Health website offers information about all areas of the public health system. It includes links to District Health Board websites where you can find out more the services available in your area.

Prescriptions – In New Zealand, General Practitioners (GPs) do not dispense medicines directly. Instead, they provide written prescriptions or scripts (orders for medicine) that you then take to a registered pharmacist. There are plenty of pharmacies to choose from. Most of the bigger shopping centres include several outlets. You can present your prescription at any pharmacy, but repeat prescriptions can be obtained only from the pharmacy that issued your first prescription. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a new prescription from your GP.

An important point to note is New Zealand does not encourage the use of prescription drugs for minor ailments, so it does not have a broad a range of drugs available. They are also quite strict in how these drugs are prescribed. If you require treatment with particular prescription drugs you need to check their availability before you move to New Zealand and take 3 months supply with, together with a doctor’s prescription as it may be a while before you can see a specialist who is able to prescribe the equivalent medication.

Standard costs – Prescription medicines are generally free for children under six years old. For everyone else, there is a small prescription cost if the medicine is subsidized by the health service. Medicines that are not fully subsidized may cost more. You may be able to pay less for prescriptions if you have a Community Services Card, a High Use Health Card or a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card.

Non-prescription medicines – Pharmacists can offer you advice, often free, on medicines and on some health problems. They can also sell medicines that do not need a prescription.

After hours service – If you need urgent medicine outside normal shopping hours, you can go to an Urgent Pharmacy. These are open until 10:00pm or 11:00pm. You will find them listed under ‘Urgent Pharmacies’ in the ‘Hospitals & other health service providers’ section in the front of the White Pages telephone directory.

However, you may choose to have private health insurance, to help pay for private healthcare and/or to meet the remaining costs of any service that is only partly publicly funded. This would allow you, for example, to bypass waiting times in the public health system for treatment of non-urgent conditions.

A number of insurance companies offer health insurance policies ranging from basic care to comprehensive cover. Policy premiums vary considerably. Even if you do have private health insurance, you are still entitled to free public health services which cover all accidents and emergency care. You’ll find a list of health insurance companies in the Yellow Pages under ‘Insurance – Medical’

Also see which offers easy access to popular brochures on health matters. These brochures are also available in a number of languages.


Enrolling your children in early childhood education will be a personal choice, however if they are in the 6 – 16 years old range they are required to attend school.

Early Childhood Education or Pre-Primary School

New Zealand offers all sorts of options for early childhood education. Each has its own way of working with children and their parents. There are full-day, part-day and casual options. Some early childhood education centres are led by registered teachers, while in others, parents or caregivers provide the education. There are also services where people can look after your child at their or your home, while getting support from teachers who visit and provide advice and support.

Teacher–led centres – Here, one or more of the adults providing education and care are registered teachers.

Education and Care centres  – These centres can be run by the community or private owners and provide full or part-time education and care. They usually charge a fee and at least one of the teachers must be a registered teacher. Depending on the centre, they may accept children from birth to school age, or they may focus on children of specific ages. Some education and care services also have programmes based on a specific culture or on different beliefs, such as Montessori or Rudolph Steiner centres.

Kindergartens – These are similar to Education and Care centres except that all the teachers must be registered. They usually ask for a donation, depending on the age of the child and hours of attendance. Most kindergartens look after children aged between two and a half and five years old. Usually, older children attend morning sessions five days a week, while younger children attend afternoon sessions three days a week. Some kindergartens are now open all day or have some sessions that are longer than others.

Home-based education – Involves someone providing education and care for up to four children, under the supervision of a registered teacher who visits at least once a month to provide advice and support. The learning takes place at a home, either for the whole day or for part of the day.

Parent-led centres – As the name implies, here, parents or caregivers provide education and care for the children.

Playcentre  – These facilities are run as parent co-operatives and cater for children from birth to school age. Children can attend up to five sessions a week. Parents or caregivers of children under 2 ½ years must attend with their children. There is a high adult to child ratio. Playcentres usually charge fees, but these are generally low.

Playgroups  – community-based groups where parents and caregivers meet and provide play, social and learning programmes for children.

Pacific Islands early childhood education groups – these playgroups build young children’s knowledge of their own Pasifika language and cultures. They are often church or community-based, and parents help run the sessions. Learning may be in both English and a Pasifika language or in a Pasifika language only. Pacific Islands early childhood education groups may ask for parent donations.  Pasifika is a term used by the Ministry of Education to describe people living in New Zealand who have migrated from the Pacific Islands or who identify with the Pacific Islands because of ancestry or heritage.

Te Ko-hanga Reo and Nga- Puna Kohungahunga   – these services focus on Maori language and culture.

Other Options

The Correspondence School – has learning programmes for three to five year old children who are not able to attend early childhood education centres because, for example, they live in a remote area.

Special needs – the Ministry of Education provides early intervention support for young children from birth or the time they are identified as having special education needs, until they go to school. Find out more by clicking on the following links:

Nannies – Nannies are listed in the Yellow Pages. Many are professionally trained.

Higher Education

In New Zealand, there is free universal education. It is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16 to go to school, although most start around their fifth birthday. Students can stay at school until 19 or to the age of 21 for special education students with disabilities.

Choosing a school

Most New Zealand students attend state-funded schools. Every student has the right to enroll at the state school nearest to their home. If the school has too many people applying to be students there, it can set a ‘home zone’. Students living inside this zone have the right to go to that school.

Those living outside the zone can only be enrolled under special circumstances, such as where students have brothers or sisters attending the school or they require access to special programmes such as special education or Maori language.

Families have the right to visit schools and meet with the principal and staff before deciding to enroll their children as students.

State schools – The Government meets almost all the costs of state schooling, but parents are expected to pay for things like the cost of schoolbooks, stationery, materials for art/trade classes, uniforms and school trips.

At primary and intermediate level, classes include boys and girls. Both co-educational and single-gender schooling is available at secondary level.

State schools do not charge fees. However, parents are expected to make donations toward the support of special programmes or services. There are also charges for stationery and uniforms. Meals are not provided. Snacks can generally be purchased from the school shop, but many parents prefer to provide a packed lunch.

Integrated schools – The term ‘integrated schools’ generally refers to schools with a religious focus, usually Roman Catholic in denomination, which used to operate privately. In recent years, these schools have been integrated into the state system. Integrated schools receive the same Government funding for each student as state schools but their buildings and land are privately owned so they charge fees to meet their property costs. Although they follow the state curriculum requirements, these schools have kept their special religious or philosophical character. A small number of these schools, such as Montessori or Rudolf Steiner schools, are not religiously-based.

Private/independent schools – Private or independent schools receive only limited government funding and are almost entirely dependent on income derived from student fees. Each school decides what it will charge so fees can vary widely. Fees also vary according to levels, with fees in Years 12 and 13 usually significantly higher than those charged in Years 9 and 10 (see Schooling Levels below). Fees at primary private or independent school also vary according to level, although these are generally much lower than secondary school fees. Private schools have their own independent boards but must meet government standards in order to be registered. They are also subject to the same ERO (Education Review Office) audits as state schools.

Boarding schools – Boarding schools exist mainly at secondary school level, in the state, integrated and private sectors. All charge boarding fees.

The Correspondence School – The Correspondence School teaches a full range of school-level courses.

Home-based schooling – Home-based schooling must meet the same standards as registered schools, and approval to exempt the student from regular schooling must be obtained from the Ministry of Education. A small annual grant is available for teaching materials. Home schooling accounts for less than 1% of school enrolments.

Education for children with special needs – Wherever possible, children with special education needs are enrolled with other children in ordinary classes. A range of specialist support services is available. Find out more by contacting the Special Education Information Line on 0800 622 222.

School management

Each state and state-integrated school is managed by a Board of Trustees. The Board is elected every three years by parents and includes parent and community representatives, the school principal and a staff representative. Secondary school boards must also have a student representative.

The Board is responsible for both setting and meeting the objectives identified in the school’s charter. Management of the school’s finances and general administration is also a Board’s responsibility. All parents can stand for election as Board trustees. Participation in Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) is also open to all parents.

School Attendance

Parents or guardians are legally responsible for making sure children are enrolled at, and regularly attend, school between the ages of six and 16 years. If a child cannot go to school on a particular day, let the school know by 9:00am. Most schools have a special phone number or absence line. Children may be excused from school for things such as medical and dental appointments and for special family reasons. You can also ask for your child be excused from religious or sex education classes.

School Uniforms

Most schools require students to wear a uniform unless the school has an optional uniform policy. School uniforms are sold by most major department stores. Some schools also operate their own uniform shops and sell both new and second-hand items.

Schooling levels

Children start school at Year 1 and move up one class each year to the final Year 13. Years 1 and 2 are often referred to as ‘primers’ or ‘juniors’ and Years 3 to 6 as ‘standards’. Years 7 and 8 are known as Forms 1 and 2 or in city areas as ‘intermediate’ and Years 9 to 13 as Forms 3 to 7 or ‘high school’.

Class sizes are set by the school with every effort being made to keep teacher-to- student ratios low.

Some junior classes may include children of different ages and year levels in the same classroom. These are called ‘composite’ classes. State schools include boys and girls at primary and intermediate level although some offer education for just one gender at secondary level.

Primary schools – Many primary schools have waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to pre-enroll your child before their fifth birthday. Children in their seventh and eighth years either continue at primary school or move to a separate intermediate school.

Secondary schools – From age 12 or 13 through to 17 or 18 (Year 9 to Year 13), students attend secondary school, also known as high school, college or grammar school. Usually students are grouped in classes, but they have different teachers and classrooms for each subject. It is a good idea to contact the local secondary school at least six months before your child needs to start there.

Area schools – Also known as composite schools, these usually operate in rural areas and combine primary, intermediate and secondary schooling in one location.

The school day – The school day usually begins about 9:00am and finishes about 3:00 – 3.30pm There is normally a short break in the morning, about an hour for lunch and sometimes a short afternoon break.

School terms/semesters – The school year begins in late January or early February, after a summer holiday of about six weeks, and ends in December. It is divided into four terms with breaks of two to three weeks between them. Secondary school students have slightly longer holidays than primary school students.

The terms are normally:

Term 1: End of January to mid-April

Term 2: Late April to the beginning of July

Term 3: Mid-July to late September

Term 4: Mid-October to mid-December (or early December for secondary schools).

You can check with your local school for the exact term dates or visit the Ministry of Education website

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)

New Zealand’s national secondary school qualification is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

NCEA takes place at three levels:

NCEA Level 1 – Usually Year 11. Comparable with overseas qualifications such as the British ‘O’ Level, the Canadian or United States Grade 10 and, depending on which Australian state, Year 10 Awards, School Certificate, Junior Certificate or  Achievement Certificate.

NCEA Level 2 – Usually Year 12. Comparable with overseas qualifications such as the British GCSE grades A to C and Canadian or United States Grade 11

NCEA Level 3 – Usually Year 13. Comparable with overseas qualifications such as GCE A Level and the Australian Year 12 Awards.

Under NCEA, subjects are divided into specific skills or pieces of knowledge called standards. Each standard is worth a number of credits, and students achieve NCEA when they have gained enough credits at each level.

There are two types of standards:

Unit standards are internally assessed by teachers at school.

Achievement standards may be assessed by teachers at school or through national examinations at the end of the school year. About 60% of the achievement standards are assessed externally and the rest internally.

To gain a National Certificate of Educational Achievement you must earn 80 credits.

At Levels 2 and 3, at least 60 credits must be from the level you’re studying. Students can also study at a mix of levels depending on their interests and strengths. Students usually gain university entrance on the basis of their NCEA Level 2 results.

New Zealand Scholarship

New Zealand Scholarship is a series of stand-alone examinations for very able students. Scholarship brings formal recognition of achievement for top-level students, and in some cases includes a monetary award. Students enter external scholarship assessments in addition to those required for NCEA Level 3. To be eligible for the monetary award, students must be either NZ citizens or Permanent Residents. International students entering the Scholarship examinations are not eligible for monetary awards but can have their Scholarship success acknowledged on their Record of Achievement. Find out more on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website at


Teachers are not allowed to physically punish students. They can remove privileges, and give out extra homework or detention. If a child is given detention, you will be told because this will require your child to stay at school for a specified time after the end of the standard school day. For serious offences, students may be suspended from school for a period of time. If they are over 16, they can be expelled permanently. Expulsion generally occurs when a student’s conduct either sets a dangerous example to other students or threatens their safety. There are formal procedures for suspending or expelling a student.


Most secondary and primary schools expect students to do homework. Each school has its own rules on the amount and type of homework.

School transport

Parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring that a child can get to school. Each year, about 100,000 children use school buses. Students are expected to meet the cost of fares. If a child has to travel a long distance to school, and there is no public transport or school bus service, financial assistance can be provided. Financial assistance and/or bus and taxi services are also provided for special education students.

Changing schools

If you want your child to change schools, you need to tell the principal of your child’s current school as soon as possible. Most intermediate and secondary schools have open days.

Further information can be found at; – a portal to online information about education in New Zealand.  – the Education Review Office provides quality assessments of schools and pre-schools.  – the Ministry of Education website offers information on early childhood, primary and secondary education.  – here you can get details on the national qualification for senior secondary students. – the New Zealand Qualifications Authority site offers information on New Zealand qualifications and overseas equivalents. this website provides information on boarding schools in New Zealand. – here you can get information on 44 independent (private) schools.  – information on New Zealand’s education system from pre-school to adult education.  – New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers  – information for overseas students wanting to study here.


New Zealand has eight universities. All offer general undergraduate and graduate degrees and diplomas in arts, sciences and commerce, as well as specialist degrees in particular disciplines.

Undergraduate degrees such as a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or a BSc (Bachelor of Science) usually take three years to complete. Vocational or professional training may take longer. Each university publishes an annual Calendar detailing the terms, entry requirements, fees and courses scheduled for the academic year. This information is available on university websites. Term dates and fees vary between universities. All university students must be able to speak English and some universities have a set level of competency.

University entrance – NCEA is the common entry standard for university. To gain entry, students must have achieved at least 42 credits at Level 3 or higher, including at least 14 credits in Mathematics at Level 1 or higher, and eight in English or Te Reo Maori (four in Reading, four in Writing). Students must also have 14 credits at Level 3 or higher in each of two approved subjects and another 14 credits from no more than two other subjects.

It is possible to meet the common entrance standard without achieving NCEA Level 3. It is also possible to achieve NCEA Level 3 without meeting the common entrance standard.

NCEA Level 3 is generally completed in Year 13. It requires 60 credits at level 3 or above plus 20 credits at level 2 or above. To achieve NCEA Level 3 and meet the common entrance standard a student must gain the required credits and fulfill all the requirements listed above.

It is important to research all of the entrance requirements at There’s also information there for students with other types of educational achievements.

Students who have not continued secondary education beyond Year 12 may be able to seek discretionary and provisional entrance. Find out more at

Polytechnics – New Zealand has 20 polytechnics and institutes of technology offering a wide range of academic, vocational and professional courses. As well as three and four-year degrees, polytechnics offer short full-time and part-time courses throughout the year. Each polytechnic publishes an annual Prospectus detailing the courses scheduled for that academic year. You’ll also find details of fees and entry requirements in the Prospectus.

Teacher Training – Teaching qualifications are offered by a range of universities, polytechnics and private providers. For a list of training providers see

Distance Learning – The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand (TOPNZ) offers courses by correspondence. Several other polytechnics and universities also offer distance learning.

Applications – Tertiary institutions generally begin their academic year in February. Closing dates for applications vary. For courses starting in February, it is advisable to apply by September of the previous year, particularly for the more popular courses.

Half-year courses run by polytechnics generally begin in July and, again, early enrolment is advisable particularly for popular courses. Application forms are available directly from each individual institution. Certified translations should be provided for all educational certificates in any language other than English.

Entry requirements for polytechnics and colleges of education vary, depending on the course. Some have no pre-requisites. Others may require you to have done several years at secondary school or an appropriate entry level polytechnic course.

Students who have not been educated in the New Zealand school system may still undertake tertiary studies. Each university, polytechnic and college of education has its own entry requirements for students educated overseas. Check the individual websites for details.

Most tertiary institutions require you to show you can speak and write well in English. Requirements vary but universities generally ask for at least IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Level 6.0 or a score of 79-80 in TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Test). Find out more at

Further information – a portal to online information about education in New Zealand. – the New Zealand Qualifications Authority site offers information on New Zealand qualifications and overseas equivalents. – here you’ll find information on becoming a teacher in New Zealand. – the Tertiary Education Commission site offers a comprehensive guide to vocational training courses and apprenticeships across all industries as well as information on English Language Partners courses for migrants. – The Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand site offers information on tertiary education in New Zealand and links and contact details for polytechnics and institutes of technology. – The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand specialises in distance learning at tertiary level. – here you’ll find links to teacher training at Auckland, Victoria, Canterbury and Dunedin universities. – The University of Auckland – Auckland University of Technology – The University of Canterbury – Lincoln University – Massey University – The University of Otago – Victoria University of Wellington – The University of Waikato – The Industry Training Federation (ITF) is a membership-based organisation, representing industry training organisations (ITOs). Here you’ll find links to specific industry training organisations (i.e. motor industry, building and construction, apparel and textile industries, etc.) – information for overseas students wanting to study in New Zealand

To find a list of early childhood services consult the ‘Child Care and Education’ section of the Yellow Pages or at In addition you may talk to your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau about education options, you can reach them on 0800 367 222 or at  To find more information on education options for parents look up the Ministry of Education website or contact them on 04 463 8000.

NZ Driver’s License – now or later?

You can drive for up to one year if you have a current valid driver’s license from another country or you hold an International Driving Permit and it is a good idea to use a few months to get used to the driving conditions and requirements. It is important that before you drive anywhere in New Zealand you have familiarised yourself with the rules of the road.

New Zealand uses a points system which means points are deducted for each traffic offense. Too many deductions will lead to a driver’s license being suspended. This system does not apply to a non-NZ driver’s license and fines are imposed for traffic offenses.

If you plan to stay longer than a year, do not leave it too late to apply for your NZ driver’s license but do not rush it. Obtaining your license involves a driving theory and practical test and an eye sight examination.

Some countries have internationally recognized licenses and they can simply be converted without having to do any tests.

Find out more about driving here by contacting the New Zealand Transport Agency on 0800 822 422 or at

Apply for IRD Number

Apply for your IRD (Internal Revenue) number if you have a residence visa or as soon as you have found work.

This can be done from any NZ Post shop, AA Office or IRD Office. It is a simple form to fill in, you must send copies of 2 forms of ID with the application, your passport and driver’s license is normally fine. Your IRD card will be posted to you within 8 – 10 working days. You can start work without your IRD number but you’ll need to give it to your employer as soon as you receive it from Inland Revenue.
For more information contact Inland Revenue (IRD), Freephone: 0800 227 774 or visit