Parent Trustees

Ngā Kaitiaki Matua

With a few exceptions, anyone may stand for election to be a parent representative trustee. A parent representative trustee does not need to be a parent/caregiver of a student.

While traditionally the number of parent representatives has been five, a board can pass a resolution to decrease the number to a minimum of three or increase to a maximum of seven. The school community elects these trustees every three years. If one or more of the original trustees resign, the board has to decide how to fill the vacancy. The board can hold a by-election or select a person but it cannot co-opt a person.

If the board decides to make a selection, it has to ensure that it has fewer selected parent representatives than elected parent representatives. In a board with five elected parent representatives, for example, up to two casual vacancies can be filled by selection, but if another of the originally elected parent representatives resigns, the board must hold a by-election. The board must also ensure that its community agrees with the selection process occurring.

The selection process is described under casual vacancy.

At all times the board's constitution must allow a majority of parent-elected representatives over co-opted trustees and/or the proprietor's representatives. For example, a board of five elected parent representative trustees may co-opt up to four other members, or have up to four proprietors' representatives, or a combination of these up to a maximum of four.

Simply stated, co-opting a person adds a trustee to the board - it does not fill a vacancy.

Who cannot be a parent trustee?

Certain persons may not become an elected, appointed, or co-opted trustee.

A person cannot be a parent representative trustee if they are:

  • an undischarged bankrupt
  • prohibited from being a director or promoter of, or are concerned or taking part in the management of, an incorporated or unincorporated body under the Companies Act 1993, the Securities Act 1978, the Securities Markets Act 1988 or the Takeovers Act 1993
  • subject to a property order under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 (unless it is a temporary order under section 30)
  • a person in respect of whom a personal order has been made under that Act that either the person is not competent to manage his or her own property affairs, or does not have the capacity to communicate/make decisions relating to his/her welfare/personal care
  • a person who has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for 2 years or more, or who has been sentenced to imprisonment for any other offence, unless they have obtained a pardon, served the sentence, or otherwise suffered the penalty
  • not a New Zealand citizen, and are either:
  • a person to whom section 7 of the Immigration Act 1987 applies
  • a person obliged, by or pursuant to that Act or any other enactment, to leave New Zealand immediately or within a specified time (being a time that, when specified, was less than 12 months); or
  • deemed for the purposes of that Act to be in New Zealand unlawfully
  • a permanently appointed member of the board staff, unless they are standing for election as a staff representative
  • a contractor or subcontractor with the board without the approval of the Secretary for Education and receiving payments exceeding $25,000 in any financial year (see section 103A Education Act 1989 - this would also cover situations where a person has a 10% or more shareholding in the contracting company or a company that controls the contracting company).

Changing the number of Parent Trustees

Listed below are a number of useful key points to consider before changing the number of parent representative positions on your board:

  • You must follow legal procedure to change the number of trustees on your board
  • You can have between three and seven parent representatives
  • You first need to take all reasonable steps to ensure parents are aware of your intention to change the number of parent representative trustees. Parents must have reasonable notice of the board meeting time, day and venue at which you intend making a decision. They must also understand they have a right to attend that meeting 
  • You need to let the Ministry of Education's Data Management Unit know when you have altered the number of parent representative positions on your board. Contact the Data Management Unit, Ministry of Education, PO Box 1666, Thorndon, Wellington or alternatively email
  • Send this message to the Data Collection Unit: "The board of trustees of XX school (insert school profile number here) resolved at a meeting on (insert date here) to exercise its discretion under section 94B of the Education Act, 1989 to alter the number of parent representatives to (insert the relevant number here). Please ensure the necessary changes are made to the Ministry of Education's information system, which records the number of parents on our board." 
  • Let NZSTA know by calling (04) 471 6421, or by emailing the Administrator. 
  • If your board decides to increase the number of parent representatives, you will create casual vacancies that have to be filled by holding a by-election (the board cannot make selections). However, in the six months before the triennial elections, a by-election need not be held and the vacancies can be filled in the triennial election process 
  • Boards that decide to reduce the number of parent representatives need to call for nominations for the reduced number of vacancies at the triennial elections 
  • Be aware other technical issues may arise relating to the place of co-opted or appointed trustees as a result of any change to the number of parent representatives 
  • Be sure to contact us for more advice on 0800 782 435 (option 1) or email Governance Advisory and Support Centre.
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