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New Zealand - Summary

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceNew Zealand - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, The Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education


The New Zealand education system has been among the most successful but faces six principal challenges:

  1. It has a sector of the society that is presently 20 percent of the total and growing, and a higher percentage of the school and tertiary education age group and growing even more quickly, who have not previously and do not now access the resources of the system on the same basis as the larger population.
  2. The quality of the New Zealand education system has been among the best in the world throughout the last century but it now faces a poorly performing economy, and financial and demographic pressures that may make maintaining this record increasingly difficult.
  3. The salaries of New Zealand teachers throughout the system have declined by international standards and retaining the services of teachers trained in New Zealand against more lucrative opportunities overseas, especially the UK and Australia who both actively recruit in New Zealand, may be difficult.
  4. Although there is pressure to maintain quality, there is less pressure to maintain funding and a common trend throughout the system has been to try to get more for less—thereby intensifying pressures on the already stretched resources of the system, including teachers, buildings, libraries, and other facilities.
  5. At the same time, the New Zealand educational system must reorganize itself to train a new increasingly heterogeneous nation, in a new economic situation, with new cultural and material needs, which require a continuing revaluation and reconstitution of the national curriculum.
  6. In addition, it faces the prospect of the continuing brain drain of those products of the system that it has successfully educated fleeing their loan burdens and seeking higher rewards in other countries.


Butterworth, G. V. Reforming Education: The New Zealand Experience, 1984-1996. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1998.

Catley, Bob. Waltzing with Matilda: Should New Zealand Join Australia? Wellington: 2001.

Christie, Walter. New Zealand Education and Treatyism. Auckland: Wyvern Press, 1999.

New Zealand Cabinet Manual, 2000. Available from http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/cabinet/.

The New Zealand Department of Education, Annual Report, 2000. Available from http://www.minedu.govt.nz.

The New Zealand Labour Party, Policy Platform, 1999. Available from http://www.Labor.org.nz/.

The New Zealand Official Yearbook, 2000. Available from http://www.stats.govt.nz/.

Olssen, M. and K. M. Matthews, eds. Education Policy in New Zealand. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press. 1999.

Thrupp, M. ed. A Decade of Reform in New Zealand Education. School of Education, University of Waikato, 1999.

—Bob Catley

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