Board elections

Information and links to resources and funding for board member elections.

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Inform

  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Teachers
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

This guidance helps boards understand how their election cycle works. Boards can also access elections funding information including how to receive and claim Ministry support. 

Types of elections

Triennial elections

State and state-integrated school/kura elect their parent and staff representatives to their board every 3 years. These are called triennial elections. 

Mid-term elections

Boards can also choose to have a an election cycle for parent representatives which allows some of its parent representatives to be elected at a mid-term election. This is 18 months after the triennial election. The remainder of parent representatives are elected at the triennial elections.

For example, a board can have 3 of its 5 parent representatives elected at the triennial election, with the remaining 2 representatives elected at the mid-term elections.

If your board opts in to mid-term elections, please let the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) know, so that you will receive funding and updates for mid-term elections.

Email the Ministry Trustee.Elections@education.govt.nz.

Email NZSTA electionsadvice@nzsta.org.nz.

By-elections

A by-election may need to be held if a vacancy for a parent, staff or student representative arises on the board. 

Student elections

For schools and kura with students in Year 9 or above, student elections take place in September each year. 

Co-option and appointment criteria

The school board co-option and appointment criteria have been updated under the Education and Training Amendment Act 2023.

The changes to co-option criteria include considering the genders, sexualities, and sexes of the student body of the school and within the school’s community. The board should also consider the diversity of disabled students at the school and the school’s disability community.

Definitions of terms

The Act does not include specific definitions of the terms used in the new criteria. Board members seeking further clarification may find the following resources helpful for understanding certain terms.

Data standard for gender, sex, and variations of sex characteristics – Statistics NZ(external link)

Human Rights Act 1993: Prohibited grounds of discrimination – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Expectations to carry out co-option processes

School boards are expected to carry out co-option processes with these new criteria in the same way they have previously, where board members may identify gaps in expertise or representation on the board and draw upon community networks to fill these gaps.

There is no expectation or requirement for boards to gather private information about individuals for the purposes of co-option or appointment. Boards are reminded of their obligations under the Privacy Act 2020.

More guidance on co-option and privacy can be found on the NZSTA website.

Co-opting board members – NZSTA(external link)

Information, privacy and copyright – NZSTA(external link)

Board member eligibility exemptions

Schedule 23(9) of the Education and Training Act 2020 designates certain persons as ineligible to be board members.

Education and Training Act 2020: Schedule 23(9) – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Board members who have a Schedule 2 offence under the Children’s Act 2014 can apply to the Secretary for Education for an exemption to serve as a board member if the Secretary is satisfied that the person would not pose an undue risk of safety of children.

School board eligibility changes will come into force on 22 February 2024.

For any queries on this process, email BoardMember.Exemptions@education.govt.nz.

Election planning and processes

The Education (Board Elections) Regulations 2000(external link) set out the timeline that an election must follow. NZSTA have resources to help plan an election.

The Education (Board Elections) Regulations 2000 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

School trustee elections – NZSTA(external link)

Election extensions

If, for any reason, the board is unable to run the election according to the timeline, the election period may be extended. If you require an election extension, contact your local Ministry office. 

Local Ministry offices

Election validations and invalidations

If the Ministry is alerted to possible irregularities within an election process, we are required to gather more information to understand what has happened.

We will review the process to determine whether there has been an irregularity in the process, and if so, whether that irregularity could have materially affected the outcome of the election. Following this, the election may be validated, or invalidated and a new election may need to be conducted. 

If you are aware of any issues relating to the election process at a school or kura, please notify us as soon as possible. Elections can only be declared invalid within 60 days of the election and by notice in the New Zealand Gazette. 

Board elections funding 

We provide funding to schools for running elections. Mid-term and triennial election funding is provided through the operational grant instalment. By-election funding must be claimed directly from us by schools.

Board elections funding

Electronic school board elections

Changes have been made to the Education (Board Elections) Regulations 2022 to enable electronic voting for school board elections.

The regulations set out technical and process standards to ensure electronic school board elections are performed safely and securely, secretly, and in a manner that can be audited and validated by the Ministry of Education.

Education (Board Elections) Regulations 2022 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Where a board decides to use electronic voting processes, paper forms will still be made available to voters who cannot or do not wish to participate electronically.

The regulations set out that accredited providers must be used for parent and staff elections but are not required for student elections.

NZSTA can assist with election advice for boards that choose not to use electronic voting.

Email NZSTA at electionsadvice@nzsta.org.nz.

Accreditation scheme 

To support school boards to hold elections electronically, the Ministry set up an accreditation scheme so that school boards can be assured that providers meet the process and technical standards to deliver safe and secure electronic elections.

The criteria which the providers are assessed against covers:

  • ensuring protection of personal information in line with the Privacy Act 2020, and voters’ private information is protected from typical cyber-security threats
  • that votes are secret, and each voter is not identifiable from their vote
  • that voters can only vote once, and duplicate papers can be identified
  • that electronic platforms are aligned with NZ Government Web Standards and includes accessible formats
  • that systems are auditable, and votes can be validated by the Ministry.

Accredited provider

CES (formerly Canterbury Education Services) is accredited to provide electronic voting services for the 2023 mid-term school board elections. Accreditation for the online voting component only has been granted until 1 October 2024.

For more information, contact CES by email info@cessl.org.nz or by phone 0800 205 267.

School elections – CES(external link)

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