School board elections 2023

School board elections are held every 3 years. Schools may opt into a staggered (midterm) election cycle. Student elections are held annually in September.

Legislative change for mid-term elections 2023 

School board mid-term elections are normally held 18 months after the triennial elections. 

This would usually mean that the mid-term elections would fall in March 2024. We know this would be inconvenient timing for elections, with election preparations needing to begin during the summer holidays.

One-off change

To address this issue, the Government agreed to a one-off change to the timing of the next mid-term elections to November 2023. This change required a legislative change which was included in the Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 3) which has now been passed.

The suggested common date for mid-term elections was Wednesday 15 November 2023.

Each board using mid-term elections needed to confirm the election date and appoint a returning officer by Wednesday 13 September 2023.

Key information about the mid-term election process

In the lead up to elections, boards are required to set the election date and appoint a returning officer at least 63 days before the election date. The suggested common date was 15 November 2023. If schools are using the common date, the returning officer should have been appointed by 13 September 2023.

Boards should be working on succession planning and promoting the elections within their community as the call for nominations went out in September 2023.

If you have a question or concern about any election process at your school, email New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) for support

Considerations for running an election

Using election provider services

There are several companies who offer returning officer services to run school board elections.

Boards will need consider the financial implications for the school (see below), and the time needed by a school-based person to collate the roll information to share to the provider.

If the board appoints a provider as a returning officer (RO):

  • the school will contract the provider to run the elections
  • the school will need to provide the roll information/ eligibility to the RO/ provider.

If school boards appoint a returning officer (RO) and opt to use the providers services to run the election:

  • the school still provides a RO
  • the provider supplies access to systems for the RO to use to run an election
  • the school RO runs the election.

If a school wishes to use electronic voting:

  • the school must use an accredited provider
  • schools using electronic voting must still provide paper-based option for those eligible to be on the parent roll to be able to take part in the election, if they do not have access to the electronic voting system.

Find details about the accredited provider on the board elections page.

School board elections

Running elections without a provider

Schools do not need to use a provider service to run elections.

Only boards who have engaged an accredited provider and/or their services are able to run the voting process electronically for the parent elections. Boards or returning officers are unable to create their own electronic voting process for parent and staff representative elections.

Paper-based elections

Schools are able to use paper-based process if they wish. Voters who do not wish to vote electronically will also be able to vote using a paper-based system.

Election funding

The funding for school board election information can be found on the board elections funding page.

School board elections funding

There is no difference in funding for paper-based or electronic voting elections.

For the 2023 mid-term elections, schools received the 70% portion of election funding in the 1 October 2023 operations grant. A school that holds a voting election, received the remaining 30% portion in the 1 January 2024 operations grant. If schools do not have a voting election, the maximum funding a school receives is 70%.

Election timeline

The timeline for both electronic and paper-based elections is the same. But, the time requirement for the returning officer may be less than a fully paper-based election.

Privacy considerations

As with any sharing of information with a third party, school boards will need to be aware of what information they are providing, have they permission to share the information, are they sharing only what is necessary, how secure the information transfer is, and what will be done with this information after the elections. This is something all boards will need to consider as they appoint a returning officer.

Information, privacy and copyright – NZSTA(external link)

Hui-based elections for kura

Te Rūnanga Nui advises its kura on how to choose board members through hui.

Its advice adheres to the Education and Training Act 2020 and the new regulations.

Board responsibilities

  • The board must appoint a returning officer for each election. 
  • If the board wishes to hold an electronic voting election of a parent representative, then it must either engage an accredited provider to provide services to the returning officer or appoint an accredited provider as the returning officer.
  • The board should work on promoting elections within the community. This ensures the community are aware that there are mid-term elections and encourages the community to get involved by standing, nominating and voting in the elections.
  • Once the election is complete, the board should ensure both the Ministry and NZSTA have been updated with each new board member's details. This can be done by completing Appendix 1 and 2 below.

Appendix 1: Candidates and election results – SurveyMonkey form(external link)

Appendix 2: Change in school board membership – School Board Elections website(external link)

Student representative elections

Student representative elections take place annually in September. Elected student representatives provide an important voice on school boards. 

How to get help

We work in partnership with NZSTA to support the school board election process and promote community engagement and participation.

NZSTA is available to support school boards and returning officers with governance matters and election matters.

Email NZSTA at

Promoting engagement

NZSTA has promotion resources and ideas to support boards with promoting engagement on the School Board Elections website.

Promoting the elections – School Board Elections website(external link)

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