Whanganui - Manawatū education

Public and private education alternatives from preschool through to tertiary level are widely available right through the region.

Facilities cover every level, from early childhood education to tertiary opportunities and ongoing education for adults.

At secondary school level, Whanganui is home to Whanganui Collegiate School which is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest private, co-education boarding schools.

Massey University is New Zealand's premiere institution for food science and technology, biotechnology, advanced material sciences and product development.

Whanganui is also a leading centre of tertiary education for creative industries.

Palmerston North has 40% of its population either attending or teaching at one of its 70 educational institutions including Massey University. 

Eligibility to enrol

Your child can attend primary and secondary schools as a domestic student if they are:

  • a New Zealand resident or permanent resident
  • a New Zealand citizen (includes Tokelauans, Cook Islanders and Niueans), or
  • a student visa holder based on your temporary work visa.

Students who are not eligible to enrol as domestic students may be able to enrol as international students. 

Eligibility to enrol in New Zealand schools | Ministry of Education

Explore visa options to study | Immigration New Zealand 

Early childhood education

There are more than 252 options for early childhood education (ECE) in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.

There are many different types of early childhood services, including teacher-led and parent-led services.

The Ministry of Education has a guide for parents explaining the differences between the various ECE styles.

Early childhood education providers are listed on the Education Counts website. 

Different kinds of early learning services | Ministry of Education 

Find Early Learning Services in Manawatū-Whanganui Region | Education Counts


Playgroups are informal sessions where caregivers and children aged 0-5 meet together in a relaxed environment. In a playgroup, parents and caregivers stay to interact with the other adults and to play with the children.

Playgroups are usually set up and run by parents and caregivers, with children choosing from a range of activities. Activities at playgroup are either free or low cost, and may include music and singing, imaginative play, outdoor and free play, or arts and crafts.

Playgroups in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region | Citizens Advice Bureau

Primary and secondary school

Schooling is compulsory from age 6–16.

The education system for schools is made up of 13 Year levels. Primary education starts at Year 1 and goes to Year 8 (around 5–12 years of age). Secondary education goes from Year 9 to Year 13 (around 13–17 years of age).

The school system

Find a school

There are more than 190 primary and secondary schools in Manawatū-Whanganui.

Children usually attend a school in the area where they live, this is called a 'zone'. Many schools in New Zealand limit enrolments to students who live in their zone. However, some school don't have zones.

You can find information about the schools in the region, a link to their Education Review Office report, and their zone on the Education Counts website.

You can also search for specific requirements, including if a school is single sex or co-educational, or has boarding facilities for students.

Find a school in Manawatū-Whanganui | Education Counts

Tertiary education

Tertiary education in the Whanganui-Manawatū Region is provided by Massey University, Universal College of Learning (UCOL), the Institute of the Pacific United (IPU) New Zealand and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

Find a qualification, course or subject | Massey University

Programmes | UCOL

Programmes of study | IPU

Our programmes | Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

Search for a course or training provider | careers.govt.nz

Adult Community Education

There is a range of adult learning opportunities in the region.

Our Courses | Community Education Whanganui 

Find ACE Courses | Adult Community Education

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