Living & Studying
If adventure is what you’re looking for, New Zealand is the place to find it. New Zealand is a small country and a young nation, with a unique mix of culture, natural resources and people that make it a fantastic place to live.Warmth and hospitality will meet you at every corner as New Zealanders, often referred to as kiwis, extend their hand of welcome.
You’ll appreciate all New Zealand has to offer during your stay, from a vast and diverse landscape of wide open spaces, to a friendly and relaxed way of life. Nowhere else can a small country offer so much.
Situated in the South Pacific, New Zealand is a genuinely beautiful country with a landscape that contains an amazing variety of landforms. It includes rolling green countryside, beautiful still lakes, rivers full of white water excitement, active volcanoes, glaciers, world-class surf beaches and native forests. Nowhere else will you find so many different landscapes all in such close proximity.
The two main islands, the South Island and the North Island, are together about the size of Great Britain or Japan. However, a population of only 3.8 million makes the population density only 14 people per square kilometre, as opposed to 240 sq km in Great Britain or 332 sq km in Japan. About 75% of New Zealand’s population lives in the North Island, with about one million people living in the Auckland urban area.
New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of Universal Time (GMT).
The New Zealand climate is temperate, with average temperatures ranging from 8 C in July to 17 C in January. However, summer temperatures reach the low 30s C in many places.
New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere:
Summer: December to February
Autumn: March to May
Winter: June to August
Spring: September to November
While physical evidence suggests that New Zealand, or Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) has been inhabited for about 1000 years, Maori history suggests a longer inhabitation.
A number of Maori tribal histories tell of inhabitation stretching back to creation, while others tell of a migration from Polynesia about 900 years ago.
Isolated from the rest of the world, the Maori developed a strong society structure unified by a common language and customs. However the Maori dominance in New Zealand was not to last.
It was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who was the first European to visit New Zealand in 1642, but European settlement did not begin until after 1769 when Englishman Captain James Cook sailed around and mapped New Zealand.
Contact between Maori and European cultures began in the seventieth century, and by the end of the eighteenth century small mainly English settlements had been established. These were mostly designed to gather resources such as seals, whales, flax and timber, and to trade with the Maori.
By the 1830s these settlements had grown, with about 2000 Europeans living amongst 200,000 Maori.
In 1835 the British recognised Maori sovereignty, and in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori chiefs and the government of Great Britain. The nation of New Zealand was created.
For the next 100 years the country was the target of huge migration from Europe. The Maori, despite resisting the inflow, were marginalised and their numbers dropped to around 40,000. Land, language and culture was swamped by the European tide. Since the mid 1970s there has been a national realisation of the impact of the colonial process and there is a slow Maori renaissance underway.
New Zealand became an independent nation in 1947 and is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Though small, it has taken strong international stands, most noticeably against nuclear power.
Living in a New Zealand home gives international students the best opportunity to experience New Zealand culture and lifestyle first hand. Students are made to feel like a member of a New Zealand family and are expected to participate in family life. Close bonds are usually formed between host families and international students, making for an enriching experience for all those involved.
Host families are all chosen carefully and offer a safe and caring environment. The cost of a typical homestay ranges from $150 – $190 per week and includes three meals each day.
Shopping and Food
New Zealand shops are open most days of the year. Many shopping malls are open seven days and late on Thursdays and/or Fridays. Petrol stations, some takeaway food outlets and some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
The multi-cultural aspect of New Zealand means that a wide variety of food is available and there are many restaurants, cafés and bars representing all nationalities.
Most New Zealanders travel by car rather than public transport, due to the small population and high level of car ownership. However, reliable public transport such as bus and train services are available in and between most towns and cities. Regular ferry services operate between the North and South Islands, and air travel is extensive and regular.
New Zealand has a wide variety of banks and banking services. Most banks are open between 9am and 4:30pm. Outside of those hours, customers can access Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) to withdraw and deposit funds. Most banks also offer telephone and internet banking services, and Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) is available at most retail outlets. The international direct debit systems, Cirrus and Plus are available throughout New Zealand and all major credit cards are recognised.
The cost of living in New Zealand is reasonable, making it well within the financial abilities of most visitors.
International students are required to have health insurance during their stay in New Zealand. The ODENZ group of schools recommends the use of Unicare and can provide information about its policies and premiums.
Smoking is banned in New Zealand on most public transport and in public places such as meeting rooms and shopping malls. Work places must have separate smoking rooms and most restaurants and bars have smokefree areas. Shops are prohibited from selling tobacco to persons under 18 years.
New Zealand Education System
Schooling in New Zealand is compulsory for those aged between six and 16 years. However, most New Zealanders begin primary school at age 5, participating from pre-school through to tertiary education.
- Years 1 to 6 (5 to 10 years old) are spent at primary school
- Years 7 and 8 (11 and 12 years old) are spent at intermediate school
- Years 9 to 13 (13 to 17 years old) are spent at secondary school.
Secondary school generally runs from 8:30am to 3:30pm, Monday to Friday. Students may attend either a co-educational or single sex school, depending on what is available in their area. Academic subjects are offered along with physical education, arts, health, music and technology.
During the senior years (years 11 to 13), students work toward the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This is an internationally recognised qualification that can be used to gain university entrance. The NCEA is based on achievement standards derived from the national curriculum and is assessed both internally and externally.
Many schools also offer Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) courses. These provide students with courses of study and/or workplace experience that lead to skills and qualifications. The range of subject and skill areas supported by STAR vary from school to school, but popular subject choices include hairdressing, childcare, electro-technology, first aid, life skills, tourism, automotive technology, agriculture, horticulture and food technology.
New Zealand’s first official language is English. All ODENZ schools use English as the main language of instruction.
Te Reo Maori is the other official national language. Students should expect to be involved in some Maori cultural events during their stay. Powhiri (Maori welcomings) are common when international students arrive. Many schools include Maori songs in their school singing and the haka (Maori war dance) is commonly performed before sporting events.
Pacific Island and Asian cultures are also prominent in New Zealand. International students are likely to be exposed to these cultures and a number of their languagues.
Non-English languages such as French, German, Japanese and Spanish are offered in most New Zealand schools.
Achieving Top Academic Ratings
A recent study has ranked New Zealand’s 15 year old students among the top in the world in reading, mathematics and science literacy.
The Programme for International Student Assessment study, undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development, assessed 15 year old students in 32 countries.
Of all the countries involved, New Zealand was ranked third in reading literacy, third in mathematical literacy and sixth in scientific literacy.
International Student Services
The New Zealand Government has set high standards for all institutions that work with international students. The New Zealand Ministry of Education requires that all providers of education to international students be signatories to a code of practice, which ensures that students are well informed, safe, and properly cared for.
If you seek to enrol with an educational provider who is not a signatory to this code, you will not be granted a permit from the New Zealand Immigration Service. All ODENZ members are signatories to the code of practice, and welcome your enrolment. You will receive a summary of the code with your enrolment material.
Copies of the code of practice are available online at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/international
In addition to the code of practice, each ODENZ school is required to provide top quality international student support services, including orientation, specialist counselling, language support and accommodation.
Jai Fukuta (2000)
It’s been a brilliant time to be here in Motueka. I have really enjoyed playing rugby and netball, even though I didn’t know anything about them or how to play them before I started. The very first time that I got the rugby ball I screamed all the way to the goal post because I was scared of being tackled.
The other good memory has been taking outdoor education, which is not taught in Japan. I often fell into the water … in kayaking, caving, bridge-building, I always got more wet than the others.
I also enjoyed many school events … Stage Challenge, the Talent Quest, the ball and so on. I can’t explain my feelings about them in this tiny space.
Changing our environment gives us a change of thought. Changing school, moving houses, leaving home, etc. For me it’s been a great change to come to New Zealand. Culture shock, home sickness, good memories and even bad memories made my heart spread and adapt.
As the still water of the pond is lukewarm and muddy if people stay in one place, you don’t find anything new and never get the chance to think about yourself. As the moving water of the river is fresh and clear, if you move around to find new things, you feel that you are creating yourself.
Katrin Kierspel (2001)
I’ve been here in New Zealand for only one month, so it’s difficult for me to write this report. The first thing that comes into my mind when I think about Motueka is ‘small’. But I’m very happy I decided to come. It’s a fascinating landscape and I’ve never seen so many lemon trees and sheep in one place.
I think that it’s great to have so many possibilities to make things you like to do. For example the great choice of sports or subjects you can choose. And I really had a lot of luck to come to a host family like the Groobys. Till now, I haven’t had any reasons to miss my family in Germany. Six months is definitely too short a time to stay here.
I’ve met a lot of friendly people and I think it’s very nice how they look after international students. I hope that I’ll have a great time till I leave and you have to be sure, I’ll be back.
Brunna de Almcida Portigliatti (2001)
This new time in my life here in New Zealand has been awesome, because I have been able to experience living with another culture, meet new people and learn another language. Especially here in Motueka, where there are a lot of lovely people and a beautiful natural environment.
I feel at home here at Motueka High School, everybody is really friendly and I’m able to do a lot of things that I enjoy like art, drama, Maori, outdoor education, woodwork …
I love my country (Brazil) but I’m not thinking about home at the moment, as there is so much to do here.