Growing leaders for change

The potential of young people in Aotearoa New Zealand is limitless. Access to opportunity is not. Nor is it evenly distributed.


The aim of Teach First NZ’s work is to help all children to fulfil their potential by disrupting the inequities that exist in education and in society. Through our flagship programme, we contribute to achieving this vision by attracting more great people into the education sector who are committed to the same vision as us; supporting them to grow as teachers and leaders who can make a difference, and fostering their collective impact in the long-term as Kairapu to make an increasing difference for our young people.

We believe it is possible for all young people in Aotearoa to realise their full potential.

But we have a problem.

Aotearoa New Zealand has one of the highest rates of educational inequality in the developed world, ranking 33rd out of 38 countries.

This inequality is the result of multiple factors. To help fight the war against it, we bring together outstanding individuals and support them to become highly effective teachers and inspirational leaders to serve the amazing young people in our lowest-income communities.

We hold the space for these outstanding individuals to develop as teachers and leaders to work alongside their colleagues in schools serving low-income communities across the country.

In this way, we contribute to affecting the systemic change that is needed to achieve the vision of equality. 

The Teach First NZ teaching and education leadership programme is employment-based and provides carefully selected participants with the opportunity to teach in a secondary school serving a low-income community, whilst completing a Masters qualification over two years.

Eligibility Criteria

Our participants do not start out as teachers - in fact, they come from a range of academic disciplines and backgrounds.

To meet our eligibility criteria you must:

  • Hold New Zealand Citizenship or a Permanent Residency Visa;

  • Have completed a minimum of a Bachelors Degree;

  • Be eligible to teach one of our nine subject areas*:

  • Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, General Science)

  • Mathematics

  • English

  • Technology

  • Digital Technology

  • Te Reo Māori

  • Pacific Languages (Tongan, Samoan)

Find out if you are eligible?

We believe that great teachers and leaders demonstrate some key dispositions, and a range of skills, abilities and understandings and have used these to form our Ngā Āheitanga (Key Competencies).

Throughout the recruitment process, candidates are assessed for evidence of the following:

  • Interpersonal relationships

  • Cultural competence

  • Humility, self-awareness and openness to learning

  • Empathy and respect

  • Leadership and service

  • Adaptability and flexibility

  • Organisation and planning

  • Commitment and resilience

  • Achievement

  • Commitment to the Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ mission and vision

To apply for the Teach First NZ Programme you will first need to complete our online application form.

If your online application is successful, you will be invited for a interview where you will have another opportunity to discuss your background and demonstrate key competencies.

Success here will lead you to a Teach First NZ Assessment Centre, incorporating interviews, a group exercise, a sample teaching lesson and self-reflection exercises.

If you are successful at our Assessment Centre – congratulations! You will be made an offer to start your leadership journey with Ako Mātātupu.

Tracie Pile

Making a difference where it matters most.

Tracie Pile.jpg

Name: Tracie Pile
Tertiary Education: Bachelor of Matauranga Maori, Te Wananga o Raukawa
Previous role: Te Wananga o Raukawa Administrator
Current role: te reo Maori teacher at James Cook High School, Manurewa

Teach First NZ offers a unique pathway into secondary teaching for talented individuals who aspire to be future leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Teach First NZ programme is two years long, but the experience and skills participants gain last a lifetime. Teach First NZ participants teach in schools serving low-income communities while training towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching. During the programme, participants receive a full-time salary and a scholarship for their qualification.

Tracie Pile is a born and bred South Aucklander. Having completed her Bachelor of Matauranga Maori at Te Wananga o Raukawa, she decided that the Teach First NZ programme was where she could make the biggest difference. Tracie is a part of the 2015 cohort and is currently teaching te reo Maori at James Cook High School, Manurewa.

Why did you choose to join the Teach First NZ programme?

When I found out about Teach First NZ, I got goose bumps. I had been searching for a meaningful career path for a long time, one which I could be proud of, where I could make a difference and contribute to the community. As someone who has grown up in a low income area, left school early and then returned to University as an adult, the vision and mission of Teach First NZ truly spoke to me.

What has been the most important thing you have learnt on your journey so far?

The most important thing that I have learnt is that it only takes one person with passion, motivation and unwavering belief to make a real difference. On my journey so far I have learnt from some of the best educators, the most influential leaders and some of the most resilient students to whom I am extremely grateful.

What has been the most surprising part about teaching?

I mistakenly entered the classroom thinking that my role in the classroom was to be the teacher and it was my students to be the learners. As I approach my third year in the classroom I have found that I’ve learnt far more from my tauira than I ever perceived. This has been one of the most valuable lessons in my teaching so far. Each student of mine teaches me about what I am doing right and what I can do better. That learning experience has been priceless.

What would you say to those who are thinking about joining the Teach First NZ programme?

The opportunity to work in the community with our rangatahi has been one of the biggest privileges of my life so far and to ensure all of our students are achieving their full potential we need more talented professionals and graduates choosing to make a difference in the classroom as well.

To find out more about the Teach First NZ programme visit