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Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ

  • 500 - 1,000 employees

About Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ

  • Charity, Social Work & Volunteering
  • Education & Training

What it does: Teach First NZ works towards achieving educational equality, particularly in New Zealand’s low-income communities.

Best known for: training teachers with a focus on social inequality

Staff stats: more than 220 direct and indirect employees

The good bits: Graduates can acquire extensive experience teaching and leading change in the community. Graduates work towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching while being paid to teach their specialist subject in a secondary school

The not so good bits: Only 9% of applicants have successfully joined the graduate program since Teach First NZ’s launch in 2011.

The Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ story

Founded in 2011, Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ aims to bridge the gap of educational inequality through its flagship teaching and education program.

The registered charitable organisation drew inspiration from its counterparts in England and Wales: the Teach First program operating since 2003.

In 2021, the organisation became a registered Tertiary Education Organisation, and it provides graduates with a Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.

Previous graduates acquired a Masters of Teaching and Education Leadership after completing the Teach First NZ program. The Mind Lab by Unitec, which was one of the organisation’s key partners, awarded the distinction.

Graduate Program

Teach First NZ requires a bachelor’s degree for the graduate program. Applicants must also have completed four papers in one of the teachable high-demand subjects:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Digital Technology
  • English
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Physics
  • Technology

Qualified applicants can choose to teach any of the high-demand subjects in partner schools. If you are fluent in a Pacific Language and/or Te Reo Māori, you will only need a bachelor’s degree and pass a language assessment to teach these subjects.

The typical weekly schedule of a Teach First NZ teacher comprises four hours of in-school mentoring support, as well as clocking in 60% of a full-time teaching workload. Teachers follow this routine during their first year while completing studies towards a postgraduate qualification.

By the second year, you would be asked to design a sustainable practice-based community leadership project. Be ready to present the project, which usually happens every November, to Teach First NZ’s stakeholders.

Second-year graduate teachers will still work at partner schools, although their focus will shift to long-term social changes. Graduates of the two-year program can choose to join the Kairapu Movement and continue with creating long-lasting social impact.

The Kairapu Movement consists of people who continued to teach after completing the program, or they work on certain advocacies in other areas.

At the start of the program, partner schools hire graduates as employees. These institutions are either state or state-integrated secondary schools, which are allowed by the Ministry of Education to appoint employment-based trainee teachers.

The two-year Teach First NZ Program allows applicants to determine if they’re a good fit by answering a short eligibility quiz. Only citizens or permanent residents in New Zealand are qualified to apply for the graduate program.

Teach First NZ also doesn’t accept applicants who completed a New Zealand Teaching qualification. You won’t be eligible either if you previously received a Teach First NZ scholarship.


Not much is known about Teach First NZ’s detailed compensation package, except that teachers earn a full salary. You can expect to earn between $40,891 and $73,130 per year, which is the New Zealand government’s estimated base pay for untrained secondary teachers.

The organisation also provides them with a full scholarship for the Postgraduate Diploma of Secondary Teaching.

The culture

Graduates need to prepare for a fast-paced work environment. Being able to learn quickly and think on your feet will come in handy during the Summer Intensive training period.

Some former teachers, though, believe Teach First NZ should extend the training period for more than seven weeks. By doing so, participants can become well-prepared teachers once they finish the Summer Intensive stage.

While some alumni felt that they were unprepared post-training, most of them agreed that Teach First NZ offered a strong network of support and guidance for participants. This happened before, during, and after the program.

The Ministry of Education and University of Auckland’s study further underscored the effective support and mentoring provided by Teach First NZ. This is one of the four key elements behind the program’s success aside from:

  • immersion in the classroom
  • program responsiveness; and
  • a rigorous selection process.

Social contributions

Teach First NZ claims that students from low-income communities are four times more likely to fail in their studies. The group cited the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card’s findings about the unequal education system in the country.

The report ranked New Zealand 33rd out of 38 countries in the OECD for educational inequality. So far, Teach First NZ has worked to solve the problem by educating 30,000 children in low-income areas.

The organisation also accepts funding applications for new or existing Kairapu-led impact projects.

The vibe of the place

Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ’s flagship program provides graduates with meaningful real-world experience. Be prepared to overcome a thorough but engaging recruitment process, as only 9% of program applicants have been chosen since Teach First NZ’s launch.

You’ll need to summon the strength to complete the Summer Intensive program, which previous teachers described as being demanding for a reason. By the end of the two-year program, you will become a qualified teacher.

Despite the stringent hiring process, more than 90% of participants have stayed in teaching roles. The rest have either started working for Ako Mātātupu or pursued education policy changes in other areas—a testament to the organisation’s wide-reaching impact.


From the employer

New Zealand ranks 33rd of 38 in the OECD when measuring educational equality. The education system here is four times as likely to fail a young person from a low-income community than a child from a higher income community. This inequality is created by inequities, or unfairnesses, in our education system.

Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ offers a fully scholarshipped, employment-based Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.

We give participants of the Teach First NZ Programme knowledge of and skills to disrupt education inequities in schools. Longer-term we want them to either grow as outstanding teachers or move into leadership roles and help to grow our broader network working towards the same kaupapa of reducing and disappearing those education inequities altogether.

Recruitment Process

The recruitment process

A four-stage hiring process awaits every applicant at Teach First NZ:

  1. Online application
  2. Phone interview
  3. Ako Centre (online or in-person)
  4. Job offer and induction

Applicants usually take up to two hours to complete an online application. Teach First NZ encourages you to share your achievements, experiences, and motivations during this stage. If selected, you will be invited to a phone interview.

The interview lasts between 20 and 30 minutes for a more in-depth look at how your credentials match the programme's requirements. Successful candidates will then have to attend a one-day Ako Centre where you will take part in:

  • a pepeha process
  • an interview
  • a group exercise
  • a sample teaching lesson; and
  • self-reflection exercises.

Once you receive a job offer, you’ll prepare for a seven-week intensive training period that begins every mid-November. You’ll start teaching at the organisation’s partner schools in January of the succeeding year.

Jobs & Opportunities

Locations With Jobs & Opportunities
  • Our partner schools are in towns and cities all over Aotearoa, but as we respond to the need of the community, a degree of flexibility is appreciated.
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