Frequently asked questions about boarding allowances

What is new and what has changed?

Why are changes needed?

Barriers to young people’s schooling have changed from when boarding bursaries were introduced in the 1940s. Travel options have improved for people living in remote areas. However, there are still significant barriers and challenges to accessing and achieving in education.

What is new?

From 2014, Boarding Allowances will replace boarding bursaries and the Māpihi Pounamu Financial Support Scheme.

There will be new criteria for receiving an allowance, and changes to the number of allowances awarded and the amount of the allowances.

Applications for Boarding Allowance will need to be completed by 31 March 2014.

What types of Boarding Allowances will there be from 2014?

Boarding Allowances are awarded to students who are experiencing barriers to achieving educational success. The two types of barriers are:

  1. geographical isolation barriers, where a student lives too far away from an appropriate school, and the Ministry of Education’s School Transport Assistance programme does not provide a solution
  2. significant barriers, where a young person’s ability to achieve at school is hindered by their past achievement, participation, behaviour, relationships and environment.

How do these new Boarding Allowances relate to the old Boarding Bursary Scheme?

Old bursary type New boarding allowance
Māpihi Pounamu Significant barrier
Boarding bursary – category D Significant barrier
Boarding bursary – category B Significant barrier
Boarding bursary – subject Geographical isolation
Boarding bursary – technical subject Geographical isolation
Boarding bursary – distance Geographical isolation

How many Boarding Allowances will be given out and at what level of funding?

The approximate number of allowances and their values available in 2014 is shown in the following table.

Table 1: Funding allocation amounts and numbers

Allowance eligibility Boarding allowance per year Additional funding per year Approx. number at any one time
Multiple barriers Boarding hostel $7,500 $500* 810
Private board $4,000 $500* 81
Access barrier only $3,200 Travel assistance** 1,300

*Additional funding
Additional funding of $500 will be provided to schools to support pastoral care that will help students overcome their barriers. Additional funding will be paid to the school at the start of the school year to support the transition of the student.

**Travel assistance
This is only available for students who live in remote island locations (for example, the Chatham Islands, Pitt Island, Great Barrier Island).

Actual and reasonable costs for air and/or boat fares will be paid. This will be calculated based on the cheapest appropriate mode of public transport. Travel Assistance will be paid directly to the family at the beginning of the school term.


Who is eligible for the Boarding Allowance?

Students are eligible to apply for a Boarding Allowance if they can demonstrate:

  • they are facing a barrier(s) to achieving educational success, and
  • that boarding away from home will remove those barriers.

Students may face one or more of the following barriers to achieving educational success.

Access barrier – geographical isolation

Students are eligible for a Boarding Allowance if they live too far away from an appropriate school, and the Ministry of Education’s School Transport Assistance programme does not provide a solution.

Significant barriers

Participation barrier: a student has difficulty engaging in everyday classroom learning, completing schoolwork, keeping up adequate attendance and engaging in extra-curricular activities.

Relationship barrier: a student is socially isolated or lacks respect for others.

Behaviour barrier: a student is disruptive, harms others or themself, participates in criminal activities, or has a history of stand-downs, suspensions or expulsions.

Achievement barrier: a student shows significantly low attainments (lower than their same age peers) in literacy, numeracy, oral language and other subjects.

Environment barrier: a student has multi-agency involvement, lacks family/whānau and community support, has poor or negative role models, or is exposed to physical and/or psychological harm.

Students with Child, Youth and Family custody status under sections 78, 101,102, 110 or 141 of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 are not eligible for a Boarding Allowance (as their boarding fees would normally be met by Child, Youth and Family). Students under the Ministry of Health/ Child Youth and Family section 141 (out-of-home placement for disabled children and youth) are also not eligible for boarding allowance as their boarding fees would be met by either Child, Youth and family or the Ministry of Health.

What is geographical isolation?

For the purposes of the Boarding Allowance, geographical isolation is defined as:

  • living at an unreasonable distance (i.e. 60 kilometres or more) from the nearest appropriate school, and
  • the closest school transport service to get to their nearest appropriate school is too far away (i.e. 20 kilometres or more), or
  • having to travel for longer than 60 minutes one way to their nearest appropriate school each day, or
  • having to drive an unreasonable distance (i.e. 60 kilometres or more) to the nearest appropriate school.

We live just inside the distances described as geographically isolated. Does this mean we do not qualify for a Boarding Allowance?

Distance is one criteria used to select young people for the Boarding Allowance. The Boarding Allowances selection panel will consider all the factors, including distance, when assessing your application.

Ultimately the application will be assessed, scored and ranked against other applications. Those that are above the cut-off point will be selected, those that fall just below the cut-off point will be held in reserve, and the low-scoring applications will be declined.

My son wants to study photography but it’s not available at his nearest school. Can he apply for a Boarding Allowance to attend a school that does offer it?

The Boarding Allowance is for young people who face barriers to achieving level 2 in the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) or equivalent.

If the subject(s) that your son wants to study are not available at your nearest secondary school, you should talk to the principal to investigate ways to study these topics, such as collaboration with local tertiary training institutions or other schools that provide this subject, or through e-learning or correspondence.

The Ministry would only consider non-availability of subject(s) if they were in conjunction with other significant barriers.

My daughter wants to study for other secondary school exams that are not available at our nearest school. Can she apply for a Boarding Allowance to attend a school that does offer them?

The Boarding Allowance is focused on assisting young people who experience barriers to attending a school to enable them to achieve NCEA level 2 or equivalent.

NCEA is the main national qualification for secondary school young people in New Zealand. NCEA is recognised by employers and used for selection by universities and polytechnics, both in New Zealand and overseas.

The Boarding Allowance prioritises young people who cannot access subjects for NCEA. Your daughter can still apply for a Boarding Allowance to sit other exams (for example, Cambridge International and International Baccalaureate) but the application may not be successful in the selection process.

How do you determine who is a priority learner?

The Government is committed to improving educational outcomes for priority groups: Māori, Pasifika, young people from a low socio-economic background and young people with special education needs.

It is difficult in some cases, especially with young people from low socio-economic backgrounds, to determine if they are in the priority group because we don’t income test when awarding Boarding Allowances.

Therefore we evaluate each application equally against the selection criteria and based on the supporting information we are given.

The young people who need the Boarding Allowance the most will receive it, and, in our experience, the young people who are most in need are those in the priority groups.


How do I apply?

All applicants must use the approved Boarding Allowances Application Form to apply. The application form is available on the Ministry of Education’s website.

For young people who face significant geographical isolation/remoteness barriers, their parents and caregivers can fill in the application form.

You will need to approach a referrer to assist you to complete the application if you are experiencing particular hardship, challenges or significant barriers.

A list of possible referring agencies is below.

For more information on applying, please read the Guidelines for Boarding Allowances.

Which agencies can assist me with my application?

If your young person is experiencing significant barriers to achieving at school, there are agencies or people that can act as a referrer and help you to apply.

A referrer must be registered and recognised to give appropriate advice. Referral agencies and people include:

  • Child, Youth and Family (CYF)
  • Youth Aid, New Zealand Police
  • Special Education Services, Ministry of Education
  • iwi partners
  • your doctor or a health service provider
  • your lawyer
  • Family Support Services
  • social services agencies
  • your current school.

How do I submit my application?

Applications can be completed online, or posted or emailed to the Ministry of Education.

Post all applications to:
Boarding Allowances
Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666
Wellington 6140

When are applications due?

The closing date for receiving applications is 31 March 2014. There will be future rounds later in the year.

Check to see closing dates of applications.

Late applications may be accepted at the discretion of the Ministry of Education.

Our living circumstances changed after March 31 cut-off date. Can we apply for a Boarding Allowance or do we have to wait for next year’s application intake?

We reserve a limited number of Boarding Allowances for young people in extraordinary circumstances so that we can consider applications outside of the application period.

You, or your referrer, should check with the Ministry of Education before applying. Only applications from young people facing significantly high barriers will be considered.

If the student’s physical or mental health and safety is at risk, you should contact Child, Youth and Family or the Police in the first instance.

Email for more information.


Who will get a Boarding Allowance?

When the Ministry of Education receives an application, staff will first assess whether it meets the eligibility criteria and is complete. Applications will then be rated to determine the young person’s level of need.

It is important that you give the selection panel adequate information and complete all relevant sections of the application form so they can make an informed decision.

A selection panel is made up of people inside and outside of the Ministry of Education who will rate each application based on the severity and number of barriers the applicant is facing. The applicants that rate the highest will be awarded a Boarding Allowance. Not all applications will be successful.

Some applications will be submitted from young people who live in geographically isolated areas of New Zealand, such as island areas. These young people will be assessed on the remoteness of their home and other related factors. Not all applications for remoteness will be successful.

When will I know if my application is successful?

Once the panel has assessed all the applications, all the applicants will be notified. It is expected that the results will be available by the end of August each year.

What happens if my son’s application is not successful?

If you’re not happy with the decision about your son’s application, you can contact the Ministry of Education via email ( to have it reconsidered. You should give us any new information that the panel may not have received, or details of a change in circumstances.

Upon reconsideration, we will examine:

  • whether the process was followed appropriately
  • any changes in circumstances
  • any additional information that increases the impact of the barriers presented.

Reconsidered applications will be compared to applications scoring similar ratings.

The application may still be unsuccessful after reconsideration.

Allowance details

For what length of time will I receive the Boarding Allowance?

When a student is approved to receive the Boarding Allowance, funding will continue for the duration of their schooling or until their barriers to appropriate education no longer exist.

To remain eligible to receive the allowance, the student must remain enrolled in a school, and attend.

Recipients must notify the Ministry of Education of any change that may affect the student’s eligibility to receive the Boarding Allowance.

A change in the student’s eligibility for the Boarding Allowance may result when:

  • the student transfers to another school
  • the student changes location of their home
  • the student’s medical conditions, which initially enabled the applicant to gain a Boarding Allowance, change
  • the student completes their schooling
  • a new appropriate school opens in their vicinity that would resolve the student’s geographical isolation barrier
  • a new transport facility (Ministry of Education funded or a public transport service) to the nearest appropriate school becomes available in the vicinity of their home.
  • If any of these conditions do not alter the eligibility of the student, the Ministry of Education may decide to continue the Boarding Allowance.

    The Ministry of Education may also decide that the disruption to the student’s achievement at school, caused by any of the above factors, may be too great and therefore stop the Boarding Allowance.

    Current recipients 1

    My daughter has an existing boarding bursary. Will she continue to receive it?

    Young people who currently have a Boarding Bursary or Māpihi Pounamu funding will get the same funding and conditions as they currently get.

    They can apply for the new Boarding Allowance under the new criteria but if they don’t get selected, they will retain their current funding.

    Will I continue to get compensation for my son’s travel, to and from my home to boarding school?

    Young people currently receiving a distance boarding bursary will continue to receive it. You can choose to remain on the distance boarding bursary or you can apply for the new Boarding Allowance.

    If you choose to apply for the new Boarding Allowance and are successful, you may no longer receive travel assistance.

    Travel assistance is only available for young people who travel from remote island locations, such as the Chatham Islands, Pitt Island and Great Barrier Island. This assistance will be calculated based on the cheapest suitable public transport.

    My son currently gets a subject boarding bursary how long is it for?

    Under the Boarding Bursary scheme students on subject Boarding Bursaries have to apply each year. Under the “grand-parenting” provision the Ministry is extending the funding conditions for subject Boarding Bursaries until the recipient leaves school, as long as the recipient still studies the same subjects that were approved in the 2013 year.

    I haven’t heard what has happened to my application

    If you applied for an Boarding Bursary several months ago and have not heard from the Ministry, send an email to to check on progress.

    Should I apply for the new Boarding Allowance?

    Current type of funding Should I apply for the new boarding allowance More/less in boarding allowance
    Māpihi Pounamu No Funding already the maximum
    Combined Māpihi Pounamu and Boarding Bursary No Funding already the maximum
    Boarding Bursary – category B, category D, subject, technical subject, distance Maybe, new criteria will apply- no guarantee you will be successful Funding could be more, the travel allowance may no longer be available

    Puawaitanga Scholarship

    What is the Puawaitanga Scholarship?

    The Puawaitanga Scholarship is a new initiative, introduced in 2014, that targets potentially high-achieving leaders. The scholarship can be taken up at one of six Māori boarding schools. It covers the student’s boarding fees and attendance dues, with a pūtea of $1,500 per year to support their goals.

    There are 90 Puawaitanga Scholarships at any one time.

    The boarding schools have developed their own selection criteria under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, and are responsible for the marketing and selection of the young people for these scholarships.

    What boarding schools offer the Puawaitanga Scholarship?

    The six Maōri boarding schools are:

    • Hato Petera College (Catholic, Northcote, co-educational)
    • Hukarere College (Anglican, Napier, girls’ school)
    • St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College (Catholic, Napier, girls’ school)
    • Te Aute College (Anglican, Hastings, boys’ school)
    • Hato Paora College (Catholic, Feilding, boys’ school)
    • Turakina Māori Girls’ College (Presbyterian, Marton, girls’ school).


    1Current recipients are those who held a Boarding Bursary before 1 June 2013

    Content last updated: 26 May 2015