Public (State Schools)

The most common school in New Zealand are state schools, or public schools, which are fully funded by the government until a student is 19 years old. As long as the student is a citizen or a permanent resident in New Zealand, he or she is able to enrol in any state school and enjoy the full education benefits by the New Zealand government.

Applicants who wish to apply for a public school in New Zealand should take note of the school zone policy whereby students are given admission priority based on proximity, to ensure that students are allocated to schools within their home district. State schools adopt the national curriculum which are the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA) and follow a 13-year school system, which means that it will require 13 years for students to complete their primary and secondary education.

Public universities in New Zealand are open to both locals and international students, though the latter has to pay for the full tuition fees and have to fulfil the entry requirements for the programme including English language proficiency.


State-Integrated Schools (Public School)

State-integrated schools in New Zealand usually offer education with their own “special characters” such as a specialised religious or philosophical belief, and they only account for around 10% of the total number of students in New Zealand. Most state-integrated schools used to be private schools that have now integrated into the national school system, which is why these schools also adopt the national curriculum.

Unlike state schools which are fully monitored and managed by the government, state-integrated schools are usually operated by a particular faith group such as a Catholic or Christian organization. They also receive funds support from the government although they usually have to pay rent to private land owners. Therefore, state-integrated schools charge students “attendance dues” to cover the cost of facilities and land rental. Even though state-integrated schools in New Zealand do not follow the school zone policy, most of them prefer to accept applicants from the same religious background such as students who share the catholic faith.

Private Schools

Private schools are different from state and state-integrated schools as they are not funded by the government and all students (both domestic and international) are required to pay the school fees. While these schools have their own independent board to monitor its operations, they are also required to meet certain standards set by New Zealand’s MoE.

Most private schools do not follow the New Zealand national curriculum but adopt international education programmes that are recognised qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

Private schools are most common among international students as they provide more rounds of intakes per year and they do not abide by the school zone policy. Some private schools even open their intakes all year round and they usually have less restrictions on type of applicants, making it easier for an international student to enrol into. Private schools also welcome local students as long as they meet the admission requirements.

Additionally, some private schools require candidates to be interviewed during the application process. International students who wish to study in a private school may also need to provide their English level result like IELTS or sit for an entrance examination. Due to the high academic standard that private schools adhere to, parents can be assured that these schools provide a conducive and excellent academic programme for their child.

Students who plan to study in New Zealand are highly encouraged to prepare their application process as early as possible. If you come from a non-native English-speaking country, you need to get the verified documents and an English proficiency result ready before the application. Once you’ve received the offer from the desired school, you’d need to reserve sufficient time to apply for a student visa and necessary insurance before starting school. We recommend consulting a Study Trust International agent as we have profound experience applying for studies in New Zealand and will be able to guide you on the immigration processes.

Learn more about studying in New Zealand with some commonly asked questions by our students

FAQ about studying in New Zealand

Learn more about how to apply to schools in New Zealand

How to apply to New Zealand schools