New Zealand Schools: Destinctive Features

Figure 1.--Most New Zealand intermediate and scondary schools have simple daily uniforms of sweaters, plain shirts, short pants, and kneesocks. Private schools usually give more attention to the uniform than summer school.

We have been asked by several readers about the destinctive features of New Zealand education. One reader writes, "I am a content writer for the U.S. Mint working on a new feature called 'Coins of the World', which will feature New Zealand. Because this is for children, we are including some information that interests them--such as what schools are like in other countries. Could you possibly give me any information about schools in New Zealand that would be different or interesting to American kids? Do all New Zealand kids wear striped blazers to school? -- have a different school year schedule? -- have daily tea breaks? -- whatever? Thanks very much -- Faye Elkins. As we are limited in what we can provide in individual queries, we decided to create a page to address this tooic. Our New Zealand readers are incouraged to contribute their comments here.


Do all NZ kids wear striped blazers to school. No. Public elementary schools (except the catholic schools) do not require uniforms. Intermediate and secondary schools do require uniforms. There are summer and winter uniforms--although it never gets really cold there. Some secondary schools require blazers, but usually the boys wear sweaters, grey shirts, wool shorts and kneesocks in the winter and cotton shorts and sandals in the summer.


Does New Zealand have a different school year schedule? Yes. The school year begins in February. Their "summer vacation" is during Christmas and January.


Do New Zealand schools have daily tea breaks? No that sounds more British. Most Kiwi kids would prefer a Coke. Actually nowadays so would most British kids. One facility that most public New Zealand schools lack is a school cafeteria. Many kids bring their lunch or get sandwiches and crisps (potato chips) from a snack bar. A big debate is whether the snack bars should have healthy food or food the kids want.

Outdoor Education

Probably the most distinctive feature of NZ schools is the emphasis on outdoor education. Sports are designed so everyone can participate rather than for a few selected athletes. Thus in the popular sports and rugby is the most popular, a school will have several teams rather than one team that plays other schools. Schools also provide camp/outward bound experiences for their students.

Earth Quakes

A major emphasis of late is to upgrade all school buildings to earthquake proof building codes.

Sun Protection

New Zealand schools are introducing sun protective clothing as a result of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica--they are closer to it and with their outdoor life style there is growing concern. One example is that school caps which had virtually disappeared are now becoming more common. The styles, however, have changed from British school caps to baseball caps. We have not created a page on this development in New Zealand, but we have worked up a page on Sun-Smart clothes in neighboring Australia.


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Created: July 24, 2001
Last updated: July 25, 2001