Recruiting Overseas Kaiako

This is a guide to assist you when recruiting kaiako from overseas.

Given the lack of Montessori trained teachers in Aotearoa, especially primary and high school kaiako, services and schools often need to look outside of NZ to fill positions. Ideally you will be looking for a registered teacher as this is a requirement of employment in the compulsory sector.  Potentially you could employ a non-registered teacher in the Early Childhood Sector, however there are implications for this in regards to funding and licensing requirements.

It is quite an involved process when you would like to bring an overseas Montessori teacher into Aotearoa and this document is designed to give you assistance. Information does change from time to time and therefore we have listed the relevant websites to assist you rather than a step by step process.

As part of the application process you need to prove that you have been advertising in Aotearoa for a teacher nationally in New Zealand for the position.  The best place to do this is on the MANZ website (email and Education Gazette. Retain a copy of the published advertisements.

Once you ascertain that there are no suitable candidates in New Zealand you can start to look at employing an overseas teacher. Some websites you could advertise on include: AMI Global, MAF, NAMTA, etc.

When you have selected a suitable applicant, any job offer should be dependent on meeting Immigration requirements. These include:

  • Police Vet check – see immigration site for details of this.
  • Safety Check (as per the Vulnerable Children’s Act (VCA) Act).
  • NZQA assessment.
  • Teaching Council – application for teacher registration.
  • Visa application including Medical (Don’t have the medical completed too soon as it can expire before all the necessary documentation is assembled).

New Zealand Qualifications Association (NZQA)

NZQA assesses the teacher’s overseas qualification to ascertain its equivalence to a New Zealand teaching qualification which needs to be recognised as comparable and appropriate by the Teachers Council New Zealand.  If your candidate has gained a Bachelor degree in a subject other than education and holds relevant Montessori diplomas from an accredited Montessori teaching institute for the age group they teach, this will most likely not be sufficient enough for NZQA to grant registration.  This is largely due to the fact that Montessori diplomas take two years to complete and a degree in education takes three years. The assessment of a Montessori qualification is generally determined to be at a Level 5 or 6. Your candidate needs to be assessed at Level 7 to gain registration.  If the candidate has a Masters degree in Education, this can also be problematic as a Master in Education is not deemed a teaching qualification but rather an education qualification.

Teachers Council

Lodge an application for registration with the Teachers Council at the same time as applying for an assessment with NZQA.  NZQA will automatically pass the outcome of an application to Teachers Council and if they already have your candidate in their system it will speed up the process.

Information to be collected

  • Certified copies of the candidate’s  qualification transcripts with details of their practicum component, age of learners, type of institution where the practicum was completed etc.
  • Testimonials or references on official letterhead, signed and dated which specifically relate to the Our Code, Our Standards.
  • a current curriculum vitae.
  • evidence:
    • of all teaching service
    • that the candidate meets the Council’s current language proficiency criteria
    • of a supervised programme of induction or mentored teaching
    • of continuing education and or professional development

It is very helpful if your candidate can supply a testimonial from a tertiary facility outlining its satisfaction with any mentoring role the Montessori candidate may have provided during the practicum component of an undergraduate’s studies towards a Bachelor’s degree in education.  

Collecting this wealth of information takes a fair degree of tenacity and perseverance on behalf of the candidate. You need to allow at least four to five months to assemble the package of information and go through all these steps. Do not underestimate the time it takes to bring everything together.  The Teaching Council website provides an overview of the documents required.

Immigration New Zealand (Work Visa)  

The immigration requirements vary depending on the length of the work permit sought.  Permits of less than 12 months do not require a medical check. To obtain a work permit the candidate can either file a number of documents with the New Zealand Embassy or High Commission in their country of residence; or wait until they arrive in New Zealand and file a work permit application.  In the case of the former it allows for everything to be sorted before the candidate arrives and enables them to begin work immediately. In the case of the latter, the Montessori teacher cannot gain anything other than a visitor permit on arrival at the airport. Documentation needs then to be filed with the Immigration Services in New Zealand to gain a work permit.  This is best administered through Teach NZ who can get work permits within a week for a bona fide applicant. The documents required by the authorities issuing the work permit are numerous.

Education Payroll

The teacher on arrival in New Zealand needs to apply for an IRD number forthwith in order to get paid.  If in the compulsory sector, the teacher will need to supply a statement of service from the candidate’s previous employer/s on original letterhead outlining the start and finish time of employment, and whether they were in full or part-time employment (if part-time how many days employed; if full-time whether this was continuous employment). Your school’s finance administrator can help with this.

If you would like to discuss with another school who has gone through this process please email Cathy Wilson

Websites with helpful information


Teaching Council

Immigration New Zealand’s official immigration site (a service of the Department of Labour)

An additional Immigration New Zealand site containing practical, helpful visa and employment information and useful links is