Academic Year and Language of Instruction in New Zealand

An academic term refers to the annual period comprising sessions during which an educational institution holds classes. Given below is information about the academic year that is generally followed in New Zealand for the different levels of education:

Academic Year for Schools 

The academic year for schools in New Zealand is usually from February to mid-December and the entire duration comprises four terms; this has been the practice since 1996. It is mandatory that all state and state-integrated schools stay open for 380 half-days every year (390 half-days for schools that have only Year 8 students or below). The term breaks are fixed with definite start and end dates and break length that is two-weeks long. However, the beginning and the end of the academic year is not nationally fixed to a particular date.

For private schools, it is not compulsory to conform to the term structure given by the Ministry of Education, but they cannot be opened for instruction on weekends (Saturday or Sunday), the ten national public holidays of the country, the school location's relevant anniversary day, and on the Tuesday that immediately follows Easter Monday as per the law.

Many of the state schools have leave before the first NCEA external examinations begin for its senior secondary students from mid-November. But officially, the term can end only in mid-December.

The terms followed in schools in New Zealand can be of two kinds: one if Easter falls in early-to-mid-April or the second if Easter falls in March or in late April.

Case 1: If Easter falls in early-to-mid-April

Term 1: Begins in between Auckland Anniversary Day and 7 February; ends Maundy Thursday (day before Good Friday)
Term 2: Begins second Monday following Easter Monday; ends beginning of July
Term 3: Begins mid-July; ends mid-to-late September
Term 4: Begins early-to-mid October; ends no later than 20 December

Case 2: If Easter falls in March or in late April

Term 1: Begins in between Auckland Anniversary Day and 7 February; usually ends in mid-April
Term 2: Begins at the beginning of May. If Easter falls in March, a 5-day half-term break with school closing on Maundy Thursday and resuming the coming Wednesday. The start of term 2 gets delayed if Anzac Day (25 April) is on the Monday or Tuesday that comes right after the Easter break.
Term 3: Begins mid-July; ends mid-to-late September
Term 4: Begins early-to-mid October; ends no later than 20 December

For Universities 

Universities in New Zealand have an academic year that has either 2 or 3 semesters. The academic year for tertiary education runs between late February and November with a number of breaks in-between. Some of the institutions have a semester system that has two intakes each year (the second being in July). Generally the academic year begins in March and ends in November, but there may be a July start date for some programmes. There may also be summer semester courses available from January to March.

Postgraduate- Masters Degree
  • Duration - 1 to 2 years
  • Semesters – Generally two, though some institutions offer three semesters
  • Starts - Typically March, but can vary by course and institution
Doctoral Degree
  • Duration - 3 years
  • Semesters - Usually no formal semester
  • Starts – Not bound by academic calendar

Academic Year in New Zealand at a Glance:

Most schools in New Zealand start at 9 AM and get over by 3 PM or 3:30 PM. An academic year for schools usually has four terms that run between late January and mid-December with two-week breaks between them and a summer break at the end of the year that is six-week long.

    Term 1: February to mid-April 
    Term 2: Late April to early July 
    Term 3: Mid July to late September
   Term 4: Mid October to mid-December

An academic year for tertiary education extends from late February to November, though it may vary from institution to institution or programme to programme.

Language of Instruction

English is the main language of instruction for most educational institutions all over New Zealand, though it was not so always. While maximum number of schools in the country uses English as the mode of instruction, some use the Maori language. And there efforts are continuously being made in the recent times to increase the availability of this language as a mode of instruction in New Zealand. The main language of instruction for schools such as Kura kaupapa Maori and Wharekura is Maori.
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