Education Statistics of New Zealand: 2009

Publication Details

Education Statistics of New Zealand: 2009 is a booklet containing basic education statistics. Data relates to roll counts, teacher numbers and institution numbers, as well as, information on government funding, selected education sector indicators, and the strategies Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012 and the Pasifika Education Plan 2009-2012. The booklet is produced so that a simple summary of the education sector is available.

Author(s): Olivia Dench, Education Information and Analysis, Ministry of Education

Date Published: July 2010

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This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.

Executive Summary

New Zealand's Education System

New Zealand's education system has three levels – early childhood education, schooling and tertiary education.

Education is compulsory in New Zealand for all students aged between 6 to 16 years.

Early childhood education is for newborns to age 6, although the vast majority of students attend school at age 5. School education is free in the state system.

Image of New Zealands education system as a graph.

# The majority of students complete their schooling within 13 years (usually equates to 17 years-old), but a small number continue to study in the school system for another 1 to 2 years.

Early Childhood Education

The term 'early childhood education' or ECE refers to education and care for young children and infants from birth to 6 years of age, when compulsory schooling starts.

In New Zealand, early childhood education services are not state-owned, provided or managed. A wide range of early childhood services are available including kindergartens, kōhanga reo, playcentres, and child care services.

The majority of children in ECE services are under 5. Approximately 58.7% (2009) of children aged from birth to 5 years participate in licensed ECE services at any one time, with about 95.1% (2009) of 5-year-old children regularly participating immediately prior to attending school.


In New Zealand, it is compulsory for children to be at school from ages 6 to 16, although the majority of children attend from age 5. There were 2,581 schools with 760,859 children attending, as at 1 July 2009.

Primary education starts at year 1 and continues until year 8, with years 7 and 8 mostly offered at either a primary school or a separate intermediate school.

Secondary education covers years 9 to 13, (during which students are generally aged 13 to 17). Most secondary students in New Zealand attend government-funded schools, which are known as secondary schools, high schools, colleges or area schools.

Both single-sex and co-educational schooling options are available. Publicly owned schools are secular.

Māori medium education and Pasifika medium education give students the opportunity to learn the curriculum in the respective language and cultural settings.

For more information on the schooling system in New Zealand, refer to New Zealand Schools: Ngā Kura o Aotearoa (2008) available on our website. The report sets out how well the schooling system is performing over the year.


More than half of New Zealanders aged 15 to 29 hold a tertiary qualification in New Zealand.  In 2009 there were 469,107 enrolments in tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand. 425,650 of these were domestic students and 43,457 were international students.

The term 'tertiary education' in New Zealand is used to describe all aspects of post-school education and training. This includes technical and vocational education, higher or degree-level education, teacher education, and industry training. Its scope ranges from informal non-assessed community courses in schools through to undergraduate degrees and advanced, research-based postgraduate degrees.

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