Financing for equity

1. Overall Education Financing Mechanisms

2. Policies and Programmes to Provide Resources to Schools

3. Education Policies and Programmes to Provide Resources to Sudents and Families

4. Social Policies and Programmes to Provide Resources to Students and their Families


  1. Overall Education Financing Mechanisms

According to the Education Act 1989, New Zealand’s education system has 3 levels: early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and tertiary education.

Although not compulsory, the government subsidises all children who attend early childhood education (ECE) and provides “20 Hours ECE”,  meaning for children aged 3 to 5, the cost for ECE can be fully subsidised for up to 6 hours a day and up to 20 hours a week. Education institutions can also access equity funding to support disadvantaged students.

Primary and secondary education is from 5 to 19 years of age but is only considered compulsory from age 6 to 16. Primary and secondary education is free between the ages of 5 and 19 at state schools (schools that are government owned and funded) for  New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. The only exception is that proprietors of state-integrated schools may charge a compulsory fee that covers property costs. In addition, parents should pay for school uniforms, stationery supplies and extra activities depending on the school they attend. For those families who cannot afford these costs, the government offers financial assistance (Details in chapter3).

The total Education expenditure for FY 2017/2018 is NZD14.7 billion (US$10.4 billion), accounting for 6.3% of the GDP. Equity funding calculations are currently used only for 3% of all school funding, but greater equity funding is under consideration .

For FY2020/2021, the approved budget is NZD 14 billion, of which NZD2.6 billion is for services from the Ministry of Education.  


  1. Policies and Programmes to Provide Resources to Schools


Since 2000, New Zealand has adopted a National Disability Strategy on an ongoing basis. The most recent Disability Strategy 2016-2026, outcome of an extended consultation process, reaffirms the inclusive principle for the country’s education policy, practice and pedagogy and is a core competency for all education practitioners. The 2015 Disability Action Plan sets among its priorities the need to increase the number of disabled people who succeed in transiting from compulsory education and from tertiary education into employment, specifically focusing on education. According to the 2006 Disability survey, 99% or an estimated 74,400 disabled children from 5 to 14 years old were enrolled in primary school or secondary education services. According to the 2018 Budget, NZD249 million (US$ 177 million) is allocated to benefit children and young people with disabilities.

Ethnicity and language

The Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017 sets out the Government’s strategic direction for improving Pasifika education. Among its priorities, the Plan aims to improve education outcomes of Māori learners, Pasifika learners, learners with special education needs and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds through a greater involvement of and a better information about the existing education services to Pasifika parents, families and communities.

In 2017, over 148,000 Māori students and over 63,000 pacific children are within the communities of learning.

In 2020, a total of NZD300 million (US$213 million) is allocated to support Māori learners and whānau to reconnect and succeed in education post COVID-19 and strengthen the integration of te Reo Māori into all students’ learning and to support Kōhanga Reo and revitalise Te Reo Māori.


  1. Education Policies and Programmes to Provide Resources to Students and Families


 In 2017, there are 28 special schools and 4 residential special education schools in New Zealand. The main source of funding available to disability students is the Ongoing Resources Scheme (ORS). It is available to students from age 5 to 21 and is a need-based program based on the severity of the disability. It provides students with resources for therapists, teacher aides, special learning mediums, etc. According to Education Counts, in 2018, there were 9,377 students receiving ORS funding. These students represented 1.2% of the total schooling population. In 2018, NZD22.3 million  of the education budget was allocated to this program.


Ethnicity and language

The biggest fund for Māori students is the Māori Education Trust (MET). This fund supports and encourages Māori to pursue further education by offering scholarships for both secondary and tertiary education. According to the Māori Education Trust Annual report 2018, NZD664,000 of the education budget is allocated to the MET to fund scholarships for students. An additional NZD109,000 is allocated to the MET to contribute to administrative costs. Since the program started, more than 1,000 scholarships have been awarded to students that enrol in post-primary education.  Secondary scholarships range from NZD500 to NZD1000 . Tertiary scholarships range from NZD500 to NZD30,000 .



For those families from low or middle income, government offers an “Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR)” subsidy. OSCAR is a payment which helps families with the costs of before and after school care for up to 20 hours a week, and school holiday programmes for up to 50 hours a week. It is available to parents with children aged between 5 and 13 . In June 2018, according to the Ministry of Social Development, the total number of students granted subsidies was 9,525. The subsidy rate depends on the income level and time and ranges from NZD32.40 to NZD104.40 per week per child during term time and NZD81 to NZD261 per week per child during holidays. 



Immigrants receive language support, legal help, healthcare, education and employment support. For language support, besides free interpreting language line, the government also offers English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) training programmes.

Migrant and refugee background students are entitled to ESOL funding for up to 5 years. Primary and intermediate students receive NZD700 per year and secondary students receive NZD900 per year. According to the Ministry of Education, 43,400 students were eligible for ESOL funding in 2017 and it was estimated to increase to around 45,510 students in 2018. The Budget 2018 Education Package allocated NZD$283 million towards learning support initiatives which includes the ESOL fund.

In the 2020/2021 budget, NZD 15.8 million is allocated for scholarships and student awards . This appropriation is intended to achieve greater educational opportunities and increased achievement for children and young people with high potential or from low income backgrounds.


  1. Social Policies and Programmes to Provide Resources to Students and their Families

There is no publicly available information on this topic.

Last modified:

Fri, 22/01/2021 - 16:22