Becoming a school trustee

All of New Zealand's state and state-integrated schools have a board of trustees. The board of trustees is the Crown entity responsible for the governance of the school. The board is the employer of all staff in the school and is responsible for setting the school's strategic direction in consultation with parents, staff and students, and for ensuring that its school provides a safe environment and quality education for all its students. Boards are also responsible for overseeing the management of personnel, curriculum, property, finance and administration.

This three-minute video is for use with prospective trustees and briefly outlines what trusteeship is all about.

Board membership

Trustees are elected by the parent community, staff members and, in the case of schools with students above Year 9, the students. The principal is also a member of the board. The board can also co-opt additional trustees. Co-option cannot be used to fill casual vacancies on a board; a board must hold a by-election to fill the casual vacancy or fill the casual vacancy by selection having first given consideration to the requirements of section 105 of the Education Act 1989.

A board of trustees' membership includes:


The board can also co-opt additional trustees for gender, skill or ethnic balance.

Board elections

Boards of trustees must hold elections for parent and staff trustees every three years (i.e. at each triennial election).  A board may also decide to adopt a  mid-term (staggered) election cycle where half the parent representatives are elected at a mid-term election (18 months after the triennial election), and the remainder is elected at the triennial election.  Elections for student trustees must be held annually in September in schools with students above Year 9.

Trustee eligibility

Before anyone is elected, or selected to a casual vacancy as a school trustee or so opted, they are required to confirm that, to the best of their knowledge, they are eligible to be a trustee. This means that they will have to confirm that they are not ineligible on any of the grounds specified in sections 103 and 103A of the Education Act 1989.

Confirmation of eligibility must be given by completing and signing an approved Nomination or Eligibility Attestation Form (docx) which requires prospective trustees to declare that they have read and understood the trustee ineligibility criteria (included on the reverse of the form).

Data collection on boards of trustees

For data on boards of trustees, including elections results, go to Education Counts.

Succession planning

Effective succession planning can greatly assist boards and schools through the election cycles through a strategic, systematic and deliberate effort to ensure effective, readiness, recruitment and retention of trustees. Resources can be accessed here.

For more information

Contact us on 0800 ELECTION (0800 353 284), or email


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