Teaching in New Zealand1 May 2024

Teaching is one of the most important and admirable of all professions. Without a flourishing education system, driven mostly by the quality of its teachers, a country’s ability to experience growth will be severely inhibited.

The NZ government have recognised this need by placing teaching occupations on the Green List, a list of professions that provide a pathway to working and living permanently in New Zealand.

Secondary teachers are now on Tier 1 of the Green List, enabling them to apply for the Straight to Residence visa if they hold a full-time secondary teaching job offer in NZ, paid above the median wage.

Primary and early childhood education (ECE) teaching professions are on Tier 2 of the Green List, meaning that, after two years of being employed full-time in a teaching occupation in New Zealand, you may be eligible to apply under the Green List Work to Residence category.

Applicants must also meet the requirements listed on the Green List for their teaching occupation. This article will explain these requirements, including the process of becoming registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Current Trends

Between January 2023 and February 2024, 1557 overseas teachers (972 Early Childhood, 156 Primary School, and 429 Secondary School) arrived in New Zealand to begin employment in the teaching profession. The majority of these teachers arrived from the Philippines, South Africa, Fiji, and China.

The Early Childhood sector has been particularly effective in providing employment opportunities for overseas teachers, especially from the Philippines, China, and South Africa.

Within the Secondary School sector, many teachers have arrived from Fiji, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

South African teachers have also been in high demand in the Primary School sector.

While some countries have education systems which are more closely aligned with the New Zealand system, the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand is interested in expressions of registration from teachers of any nationality to further diversify the teaching profession.

Accredited Employer Work Visa

Unless you are a secondary school teacher applying Straight to Residence, the first step will be to gain a temporary work visa to begin employment in a New Zealand school. Most likely, the most appropriate work visa will be the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

This visa application will require a job offer with a NZ school which holds INZ Employer Accreditation. Teaching vacancies within New Zealand are advertised on the Education Gazette.

Applicants will also need to hold registration and a practising certificate from the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand before applying for this work visa, and this process is explained in detail below.

Primary and ECE Teachers: Green List Work to Residence Requirements

As a primary or ECE teacher, applicants must have worked in a teaching role for at least 24 months on a valid work visa before applying for the resident visa.

To be eligible for residence as a teacher under the Green List pathways , you must also meet each of the following requirements:
  1. registration with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  2. a provisional practising certificate issued by the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  3. pay for the employment to be at least the median wage or above.

1. Registration with the Teaching Council

The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand provide extensive instructions on how to apply for teacher registration for overseas-trained teachers. The Teaching Council does not register or certify teachers according to a specific education sector in New Zealand (i.e., early childhood, primary or secondary). In New Zealand it’s up to each employer to decide whether a provisionally certificated teacher has the qualifications, skills, and experience to work in a teaching position at their centre/school; and also, whether the teacher meets the requirements for funding and licensing in the early childhood sector.

You do not need a job offer as a teacher to become registered.

Registration alone doesn’t allow you to lawfully work as a teacher. You also need a current practising certificate to be employed in a teaching position in New Zealand. If you do not intend to start teaching immediately, you can apply for registration only, or choose to delay applying for a Tōmua Provisional practising certificate (which includes registration for life) until you are ready to begin teaching.

The most intensive element of the registration process is generally to demonstrate that you hold an equivalent teacher education qualification if you did not train in NZ. This can be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

1. Your qualification may be listed on the Pre-Approved Overseas Teaching Qualification List . However, you will also need to thoroughly check the notes under each qualification to ensure your qualification is, in fact, included on the list.

2. If the qualification is not on this list, you will need to apply for an International Qualification Assessment (IQA) with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
  • The Teaching IQA normally costs NZ$746 although some applicants may be eligible for a Zero Fee Teaching IQA which is allocated on a monthly basis.
  • The IQA process can take up to 4 months.
3. If your qualification is not assessed as equivalent to a NZ qualification, you can still apply for your registration under the discretionary pathway as an exception to the policy. This further assessment process involves submitting a portfolio of evidence which may include the following:
- The NZQA assessment
- Transcripts from any relevant qualifications
- Information about practicums undertaken
- Overseas registration
- Teaching service completed
- Previous appraisals, observations, assessments
- Previous mentoring/inductions
- Support letters from professional leaders
- Professional development undertaken
- Up-to-date CV

The registration process also includes the submission of overseas police certificates and evidence of English language competence , where relevant.

2. Practising Certificate with the Teaching Council

To teach in NZ, registered teachers must also hold a valid practising certificate, which is valid for three years. There are various types of practising certificates, however the most relevant for overseas-trained teachers are:
  1. The Tōmua Provisional Practising Certificate
  2. the Tūturu Full (Category One) Practising Certificate
All overseas trained teachers will have to first apply for the Tōmua Provisional Practising Certificate before they can begin teaching in NZ. While holding this certificate, teachers are entitled to an induction and mentoring programme supported by a mentor teacher offered by their school. This provides the opportunity for an overseas trained teacher to demonstrate they meet the Standards for the Teaching professions before progressing to a Tūturu Full (Category One) Practising Certificate. Generally, these teachers require most support in demonstrating a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership (a commitment to practise and develop Māori language and customs in their teaching practice).

The requirement is usually to hold a Tōmua Provisional Practising Certificate for two years teaching in a role of 0.5 FTE (or half of a full-time load) or more within the general education system before applying for the Tūturu Full (Category One) Practising Certificate. However, previous teaching experience can be considered for overseas trained teachers with evidence, and this can reduce to the NZ induction and mentoring period to one year. Only once a provisionally registered teacher can demonstrate they meet all the Standards for the teaching profession, can they apply for a Tūturu Full (Category One) Practising Certificate.

The cost for a Tōmua Provisional Practising Certificate which includes registration for life (for overseas-trained teachers) is currently NZ$564.37. Registration only: $128.96 (Registered teachers must hold a current practising certificate to be employed in a teaching position in New Zealand).

3. Paid at least the Median Wage

Currently the NZ median wage is $31.61 per hour.

Teachers must be paid at least the median wage in order to begin counting the 24-month period of work (for work-to-residence) in New Zealand. They must also be paid at least the median wage at the time of applying for residence.

Teachers’ salaries are generally set on a salary scale, based on their qualifications and years of experience. Prior teaching experience overseas can be taken into account by requesting an EdPay salary assessment .

Secondary Teachers: Green List Straight to Residence Requirements

On 1 May 2024, secondary teachers moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1 of the Green List, enabling them to apply for the Straight to Residence visa if they hold a full-time NZ secondary teaching job offer, even if they are applying from offshore.

Registration and a practising certificate issued by the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand will still be required.

In addition, applicants will need to be paid at or above the median wage of $31.61 per hour to be eligible. Applicants should have their EdPay salary assessment confirmed to ensure they meet this requirement. This salary assessment can take some time (possibly months) so it is best to get this underway as soon as possible, and the AEWV temporary work visa option remains available to applicants who wish to begin work in NZ earlier (the wage requirement for the AEWV currently is $29.66 per hour).

Skilled Migrant Category

The current Skilled Migrant Category residence pathways provides an alternative avenue for teachers in New Zealand. Applicants under this category must claim 6 SMC points to be eligible to apply.

Occupational registration as a teacher would enable an applicant to claim 5 points, however it is important to note that this can only be claimed after holding a Full Practising Certificate. Once this Full Practising Certificate is held, a teacher would have to work for an additional one year in New Zealand to claim the last required one point to meet the 6-point criteria. This process of gaining the Full Practising Certificate and one year of experience is likely to take longer than the Green List requirement of 24 months on the Provisional Practising Certificate.

The only exception is if a teacher is claiming points for their qualification, rather than for occupational registration. For example, if a teacher holds a recognised PhD qualification, they may qualify for 6 points and directly apply under the Skilled Migrant Category with their job offer, regardless of which Practising Certificate they hold. If a teacher holds a recognised master’s degree, they could claim 5 points for their qualification and apply after working as a teacher in NZ for one year.

Overseas Relocation Grant

The Ministry of Education is providing an Overseas Relocation Grant of up to NZ$10,000 for overseas trained teachers to move to New Zealand to take up a teaching role. However, get in quick because the teaching role must start before 30 June 2024 to be eligible to apply for this grant.

Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Teaching Council has extensive information about the registration process for overseas trained teachers on their website . Teachers will need to apply directly for registration on the Hapori Matatū website .

We encourage teachers wishing to know more about the registration process to contact the Council directly at [email protected].

New Zealand work and residence visas

The need for high quality, passionate teachers to work in New Zealand schools is evidenced by the fact all teaching roles are on the Green List. INZ have identified this need and provide a clear pathway to residence for overseas teachers that meet the registration requirements. The process to assess your eligibility and gather the documentation can take considerable time and expert advice will make the procedure more seamless and stress free.

The friendly and experienced team of Pathways® licensed immigration advisers is available to assist throughout the process, and the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand can answer your registration questions. Contact us today for a consultation.