Home zones

Home zones help boards to prevent overcrowding and at the same time help guarantee local students a place at their local school.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


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

Boards are responsible for school enrolment and enforcing home zones to prevent overcrowding.  


All students living inside their home zone and wanting to enrol are guaranteed a place at school. Students living outside the zone can apply to enrol but their enrolment depends on out-of-zone places being available. If a state school has an enrolment scheme, it will have a home zone.

A home zone is:

  • A clearly defined geographical area around a school, with its boundaries indicated by street names and numbers or other geographical features.
  • Usually presented both as a map, and described in a way that makes it easy to identify any address as being inside or outside the zone.

Home zones help:

  • Prevent overcrowding and at the same time help guarantee local students a place at their local school.
  • Promote attending local schools rather than travelling outside communities to attend others.
  • Balance student populations across local networks of schools, and the use of space and capacity within them.

Promoting local enrolment

Promoting local enrolments helps strengthen communities. Bringing together all the different perspectives, cultural backgrounds, circumstances, histories and ties to the community that students and their parents, caregivers, families and whānau have, brings diversity, support and opportunity to help students learn and achieve.

Inside the zone

Students who live inside the home zone of a state school have a legal right to enrol at the school, and boards must always accept enrolments from these students.

There are strict criteria around what "living in the home zone" means, but boards make their decisions on an application based on whether an address provided by a student is their usual place of residence. Enrolments can be cancelled where it is found that an incorrect address was provided to secure enrolment at the school.

A usual place of residence means:

  • living with their parents or caregivers in a house located in the home zone that is owned, leased or rented by the parents or caregivers
  • living with a family member or another responsible adult who has primary duty of care for the student (students living in a school hostel are also covered by this description)
  • over the age of 16, living independently, and own, lease, rent or occupy a house in the home zone either with the agreement of their parents or caregivers, or if they have been granted an independent living allowance.

Sometimes there are more complicated circumstances and situations that require boards to decide whether a student is considered to be living inside the home zone. Our enrolment scheme guidelines explain the outcomes of these situations in more detail.

Outside the zone

Each school determines how many places are available for students who live outside its home zone. Some schools experiencing roll pressure might decide not to accept out-of-zone enrolments at all.

The acceptance of applications for these places is according to a priority sequence as defined by the Act, and then (if necessary) a ballot draw. Applicants who are unsuccessful are put on a waiting list in the order they were drawn in the ballot and may be offered a place if places become available later in the year. A waiting list remains current until the school holds its next ballot.

Home zones and state-integrated schools

Due to their special character, state-integrated schools often draw their students from a wider geographic area than ordinary state schools. If they need an enrolment scheme, they might not have a home zone and are able to decide how to prioritise applications.

If it does not have a home zone, priority is given to students for who the school is reasonably convenient.

The board might choose to draw up a home zone and give first priority to those living inside the zone, or

The board might enrol any preference student for whom the school is the nearest option of its character and class.

Home zones and school transport zones 

Enrolment scheme home zones and school transport zones are similar in that they are both a geographic boundary around a school designed to support access to education, but they serve very different purposes.

A home zone provides for a student’s enrolment at a school that is reasonably convenient to where they live.

A school transport zone helps assist them to attend the closest school if public transport is limited.

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