Step 1 - Preparation for Election Process, and Supporting Information

Returning Officers' fee

The Ministry of Education provides funding directly to boards to contribute towards the cost of running triennial and staggered (mid-term) elections. Out of this funding comes the returning officer’s fee.

The election funding consists of two components: a base amount, which is the same for all schools, and a per- student amount for each full-time student. The funding formula is the same for all schools except stand-alone intermediate schools. For stand-alone intermediate schools the per student funding is more.

Check the Ministry of Education’s website: for election funding for the particular year the election is being held in.

Examples of how to calculate these amounts and the amount to pay the returning officer can be found at

If you have not received a letter of appointment that states the fee to be paid to you, the following are the recommendations you should discuss with the board chair prior to commencing your duties.

Recommendation one

That the returning officer fee be calculated on the basis of 50% of the base amount plus 25% of the per-student amount.

Recommendation two

That the agreed fee be paid in full regardless of whether there is a voting election.

The board can retrospectively claim election funding for by-elections from the Ministry of Education by submitting receipts for actual and reasonable costs attached to a reimbursement claim form. The claim form is available online at:

Information from the board

The following information should be provided to you by the board:

You should then open an election file, which will subsequently be held by the school administration and which should include all relevant documentation.

All questions regarding the running of a triennial or staggered (mid-term) election should be directed to the NZSTA election advice line 0800 ELECTION (0800 353 284). For any other election call the NZSTA Advisory and Support Centre (0800 782 435). You can also email questions about triennial, staggered (mid-term) or by-elections at any time to:, or make contact via:

STEP ONE: Preparation for election process - supporting information


Elections must be held in accordance with provisions contained in the Education Act 1989 and the Education (School Trustee Elections) Regulations 2000. A copy of the regulations is included for your reference on pages 26-32 of this handbook, along with relevant sections of the Education Act (refer pages 21-25). Read the regulations first. In this handbook these abbreviations are used for the legislation:

As a returning officer you should be aware that where a matter is not dealt with in the Education Act or in the regulations you have the authority to conduct the elections as you see fit; refer regulation 5(4)c. You do not, however, have the authority to alter the election timetable.


Ensure that you understand your key tasks and know the latest dates by which they must be completed. On the inside front and back covers of the handbook are the Countdown Diary and Step Summary. Pull-out versions can be found in the centre of the handbook. These can be photocopied and used as working documents.

NOTE: The intervals between legislative actions in the election timetable must not be altered. The dates for each action are determined by the chosen election date.


The board of trustees is required to appoint a returning officer for each election. One person may be the returning officer for more than one election. No person may be both a candidate and a returning officer for the same election.

Good independent practice requires that the school principal not be the returning officer.


Your responsibilities as returning officer are to prepare separate rolls of all persons eligible to vote in:


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