Te mauri me te korahi o ā mātou mahi

The nature and scope of our functions

Our contribution to the education system

The Government’s Education Portfolio Work Programme is based on the following objectives:

  • Learners at the Centre
  • Barrier-Free Access
  • Quality Teaching
  • Quality Public Education
  • 21st Century Learning.

NZQA’s strategic outcomes framework outlined in our Statement of Intent 2016/17-2019/20 and also our new Statement of Intent 2019/20-2022/23 incorporates these key drivers. This is evidenced by our focus on equity for Māori and Pasifika learners as well as for learners with disabilities and additional learning needs, and socio-economically disadvantaged learners.

We work closely and in collaboration with the wider government sector, colleague education agencies and other key stakeholders to gain synergies and deliver the best impact. We recognise that through working together we can more effectively help create the acceleration in learner achievement and system performance required for New Zealand’s success. Refer to Principles for Success diagram below.


We are working in collaboration with schools and other agencies to promote discussions about equity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. Likewise, collaboration is fundamental to our work in reviewing the NZQF. We will continue these and other collaborations in support of the Education Portfolio Work Programme.

System changes are proposed through a number of reviews. We are working with colleague agencies on the changes announced following the NCEA Review and the Reform of Vocational Education to ensure that the way our services are delivered in the next three or four years is responsive to government decisions.

We have been working closely with the Ministry of Education to contribute thought leadership and to identify the likely impacts on NZQA’s work of the proposed changes to vocational education. We have developed initial plans to progress changes which will be finalised once decisions are made.

Our role

Our primary role is to ensure that New Zealand qualifications are accepted as credible and robust, both nationally and internationally. We do this through our work to quality assure non-university tertiary education, regulate tertiary education, deliver robust senior secondary school-level assessment and credentialing, and improve the qualifications system.

Our vision, ‘Qualify for the future world: Kia noho takatū ki tō āmua ao’, encapsulates our role and ambition for learners and for New Zealand. Our performance is a vital element of making New Zealand’s education system world leading, accessible to all learners and for empowering lifelong learning.

Key functions


The NZQF is the definitive source for accurate information about all quality-assured New Zealand qualifications – covering secondary school, tertiary education and those institutions open to international learners. The NZQF is designed to optimise the recognition of a learner’s achievement and contribute to New Zealand’s economic, social and cultural success.

Quality assurance:

Our quality assurance role is directed towards ensuring high levels of trust and confidence in education outcomes for the tertiary education system. We set the statutory rules for the whole tertiary education sector and manage quality assurance in the non-university part of the tertiary sector.


We administer and quality assure NCEA for senior secondary learners (and for a smaller number of learners outside the secondary school system) and New Zealand Scholarship examinations. We do this through:

  • Internal assessment for NCEA – by managing a system of quality assurance across schools’ internal assessment, which includes scheduled reviews of schools’ assessment systems, external moderation of internal assessment, and monitoring. We also provide workshops, seminars and other support as needed.
  • External assessment – we administer NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship external assessment, including reports, portfolios and examinations.

Strategic intentions

Our context and the operating environment we are working in

Our operating environment is constantly changing as education evolves and adapts to the demands of global learners, and harnesses the power of digital technologies. Digital learning and assessment changes how and what learners learn; it also changes the opportunities available to support those with additional learning needs.

The expectations of education are changing, as learners and employers want greater flexibility in learning programmes and qualifications. Significant equity issues still exist for Māori and Pasifika learners, and for learners with disabilities and additional learning needs. Employers are looking for more nimble and adaptable workers with a diverse range of skills and capabilities. Overall the needs and expectations of learners and their whānau, employers, industry and iwi continue to evolve, demanding more of education sector organisations.

We have a key role to play in addressing these challenges and opportunities through our quality assurance and assessment and credentialing roles; we cannot, however, do this by ourselves. We work closely with our sector colleague agencies as well as education organisations, teachers, whānau and business.

Our strategic priorities, as agreed with the Government in the Letter of Expectations 2018/19, are:

  • Working for equity of access and outcomes
  • Being flexible and future focused
  • Working in collaboration with learners and the sector.

These strategic priorities are supported by operational priorities of supporting system outcomes, sustainable business practices and responsive systems.

What we are seeking to achieve

NZQA’s vision ‘Qualify for the future world: Kia noho takatū ki tō āmua ao’, encapsulates NZQA’s role and ambition for learners and for New Zealand. The performance of NZQA depends on its contribution to making the New Zealand education sector a world leading education system that meets the needs of learners and employers. NZQA supports learners, communities, employers, schools and tertiary education organisations (TEOs) by working towards the following impacts included in its 2016/17-2019/20 Statement of Intent:

  • Impact 1: New Zealand’s qualifications meet the needs of learners and employers, and enhance New Zealand’s social and economic outcomes
  • Impact 2: Trust and confidence in education outcomes for non-university education
  • Impact 3: Trust and confidence in robust secondary school level assessment.

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