Home zones

Home zones help Boards to prevent overcrowding and at the same time help guarantee local students a place at their local school. These are both requirements under the Education Act.

Level of compliance Main audience Other



  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Boards with Members
  • Principals and Tumuaki

Boards are responsible for school enrolment, enforcing home zones and preventing overcrowding. New legislation is coming into effect in 2021 about the development and operation of enrolment schemes. 

Note: The Education and Training Act 2020 is making some changes to the way enrolment schemes are developed and operated. These changes will be in effect from 1 January 2021, and the advice on this page will be updated. Until the end of 2020, the enrolment scheme provisions in the Education Act 1989 (ss11A-11Q) still apply. For more information about the changes, see development and consultation of school enrolment schemes.


All students living inside their home zone and wanting to enrol are guaranteed a place at school. Students living outside the zone can apply to enrol but their enrolment depends on out-of-zone places being available. If a state school has an enrolment scheme, it will have a home zone.

A home zone is…

A clearly defined geographical area around a school, with its boundaries indicated by street names and numbers or other geographical features.

Usually presented both as a map, and described in a way that makes it easy to identify any address as being inside or outside the zone.

Home zones help ….

Prevent overcrowding and at the same time help guarantee local students a place at their local school. These are both requirements under the Education Act.

Promote attending local schools rather than travelling outside communities to attend others.

Balance student populations across local networks of schools, and the use of space and capacity within them.

Promoting local enrolment

Promoting local enrolments helps strengthen communities because bringing together all the different perspectives, cultural backgrounds, circumstances, histories and ties to the community that students and their parents, caregivers, families and whānau have, brings diversity and opportunity to all the options and support that can be provided to all students to help them learn and achieve.

Inside the zone

Students who live inside the home zone of a state school have a legal right to enrol at the school, and Boards of Trustees must always accept enrolments from these students.

There are strict criteria around what ‘living in the home zone’ means, but Boards of Trustees make their decisions on an application based on whether an address provided by a student is their usual place of residence. Enrolments can be cancelled where it is found that an incorrect address was provided to secure enrolment at the school.

A usual place of residence means:

  • living with their parents/caregivers in a house located in the home zone which is owned, leased or rented by the parents or caregivers
  • living with a family member or another responsible adult who has primary duty of care for the student (students living in a school hostel are also covered by this description)
  • over the age of 16, living independently, and own, lease, rent or occupy a house in the home zone either with the agreement of their parents or caregivers, of they have been granted an independent living allowance.

Sometimes there are more complicated circumstances and situations that require Boards of Trustees to decide whether a student is considered to be living inside the home zone. Our enrolment scheme guidelines explain the outcomes of these situations in more detail.

Outside the zone

Each school determines how many places are available for students who live outside its home zone. Some schools experiencing roll pressure might decide not to accept out-of-zone enrolments at all.

The acceptance of applications for these places is according to a priority sequence as defined by the Education Act 1989, and then (potentially) a ballot draw. Applicants who are unsuccessful are put on a waiting list in the order they were drawn in the ballot and may be offered a place if places become available later in the year. A waiting list remains current until the school holds its next ballot.

Home zones and state-integrated schools

Due to their special character, state-integrated schools often draw their students from a wider geographic area than ordinary state schools. If they need to develop and operate an enrolment scheme, they are able to decide how to prioritise applications.

  • If it does not have a home zone, priority is given to students for who the school is reasonably convenient.
  • The Board might choose to draw up a home zone and give first priority to those living inside the zone, or
  • they might enrol any preference student for whom the school is the nearest option of its character and class.

Home zones and school transport zones 

Enrolment scheme home zones and school transport zones are similar in that they’re both a geographic boundary around a school designed to support access to education – but they serve very different purposes.

  • A home zone provides for a student’s enrolment at a school that’s reasonably convenient to where they live.
  • A school transport zone helps assist them to attend the closest school if public transport is limited.

[1] Education Act 1989, Part 2 Enrolment schemes, and suspension, expulsion, and exclusion of students, ss11A-11Q Enrolment schemes

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