Preference of Enrolment

Preference and Non-Preference Students and Enrolment

Catholic schools in New Zealand have a maximum roll which is a number established by the Proprietor and agreed to by the Crown as to the number of students that can legally enrol in a Catholic school.

A Catholic school can legally enrol a maximum of 5% non-preference students if, and only if, there are spaces available; i.e. when there is pressure on the maximum roll and/or school capacity, the board must be mindful of the requirements of the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 that non-preference students may be enrolled only if places are avialable after all preference applicants have been enrolled.


The Criteria Promulgated by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference, which are to be used by Proprietors and their Agents, in order to Grant Preference of Enrolment are:

1. The child has been baptised or is being prepared for baptism in the Catholic Church.

2. The child's parents/guardians have already allowed one or more of its siblings to be baptised in the Catholic faith.

3. At least one parent/guardian is a Catholic, and although their child has not yet been baptised, the child's participation in the life of the school could lead to the parents having the child baptised.

4. With the agreement of the child's parent/guardian, a significant familial adult such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle who is actively involved in the child’s upbringing undertakes to support the child's formation in the faith and practices of the Catholic Church.

5. One or both of a child's non-Catholic parents/guardians is preparing to become a Catholic.


Administration of the Criteria and Signing the Preference Certificate

The following have been authorised by the Bishop of Christchurch as his agent in signing the Certificate on his behalf.

1. Parish priests of their Parish of residence

2. Assistant Priests of their Parish of residence

3. Priests appointed under c. 517/1

4. Ethnic chaplains who liaise with parish priests or their delegate

5. The South Canterbury or Ferrymead Preference Committees (as mandated and appointed by the Bishop of Christchurch)


Enrolling your child at a Catholic School

The Principal handles enrolment in a Catholic School. If a child seeks enrolment as a preference student, he or she must obtain a signed preference certificate from the Parish Priest.

Preference certificates can be obtained from your Parish Priest or downloaded from this website (below).  

Please note, a signed preference certificate does not guarantee enrolment at a particular school. This may depend on enrolment schemes and school capacity.


Appeal Process

If a Parish Priest declines to issue a preference of enrolment certificate, then the parents/caregivers may appeal the decision, through the Manager of the Catholic Education Office and using the appeal form (below), to the Reverend John Adams (Episcopal Vicar for Education).


Download Documents

1. Primary School Preference of Enrolment Certificate for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

2. Statement for the Information of Primary School Parents of Non-Preference Students for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

3. Secondary School Preference of Enrolment Certificate for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

4. Preference Appeal Form for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch