Welcoming Communities

Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori

We are proud to be a part of Welcoming Communities | Te Waharoa ki ngā Hapori, a programme to support newcomers to feel welcome and able to participate in the economic, civic, cultural and social life of their new community for more information on the programme, head over to the INZ Welcome Communities Website.

This guide to Lower Hutt provides basic settlement information for people who have recently moved to the city to live, work, or study.

For copies of this guide, any changes or requests for new listings or information on how the Council supports all new settlers and the ethnic and Pacific communities, please get in touch:

Hutt City Council

In an emergency, call 111

For non-emergencies, call 105. Use this number to report something that has already happened. They will be help you with next steps.

There are a few things to consider when looking for a home in a new city. Location, furnishing, power services, and whether you want to rent or buy are just some of the things to think about.


Think about where you plan to work and if you have children, which schools they are likely to attend as some shcools are "zoned" - see education section



Landlords can't  discriminate or decide not to rent (or end your tenancy) for any reason that breaches the Human Rights Act. More information on discrimination can be found here


The law differs if you are a tenant or if you are a flatmate.

If you sign a tenancy agreement with a landlord, you’re a tenant. You are legally responsible for the place and you’re covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.

Flatmates live in a house but don’t sign the tenancy agreement, instead signing a flatmate agreement with the head tenant. Flatmates are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.

Tennancy Agreements

Tenancy Services is part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. It also provides guidance on dealing with common tenancy issues. If you have a dispute that you can’t resolve, they can help resolve your issue.

If that doesn’t help, it will be referred to the Tenancy Tribunal, which is managed by the Ministry of Justice.

It’s important to have a written tenancy agreement (lease). Both you and your landlord sign this and keep a copy. It is a good idea to know your legal rights and responsibilities before signing a tenancy agreement – Tenancy Services can provide free advice.

The landlord cannot ask you to pay any money to change your tenancy agreement. The only exception is if they are holding the property while you decide whether or not to rent it.

Bond & Security Deposit

A bond equivalent to two-to-four weeks’ rent is often required when you rent. The bond is for the landlord to cover any damage that you inflict on the house, or any unpaid rent. Both you and the landlord will sign a bond form, which the landlord sends to the Tenancy Service Centre. The bond is paid back when you leave the house if there is no damage you inflicted or any unpaid debts.

It’s a good idea to take photos of the house including any existing damage before you move into the house.

Healthy Home Standard

The healthy homes standards lay out the minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties. Check if the rental has complied with the standards.

For more information visit tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes or call 0800 836 262.

Where to Find Accomodation to rent or buy

You can go online:

You can also check:

  • Local newspapers: check the ‘To Let’ columns on Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Noticeboards at supermarkets, community centres, and some school newsletters

Buying a House

Buying a home can be a complicated process, especially when you haven’t bought before.

Settled.govt.nz has the ‘buyer journey guide’ to help you in the process. Using a real estate agent registered with the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) will help protect you from any financial and legal risks. REINZ is the professional regulatory body for the real estate industry.

To avoid legal problems, use a lawyer when buying a house. You can check propertylawyers.org.nz or visit conveyancing.co.nz for information on buying and selling properties. You can ask for a copy of the current site valuation and the property rates at the local council.

Once you have done the research and found a house you like, you should get a professional property inspection. The inspection will check the property’s durability, workmanship and structural soundness.

These agencies will provide advice on building inspection:

Consumer build

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand

Key  points

  • You must drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • You must wear a seatbelt.
  • It is illegal to drive while you have drugs in your system
  • It is illegal to drive if you are over the alcohol limit. If you are under 20, the alcohol limit is zero.
  • You must follow the speed limit (round white signs with red outline).
  • Lock your car and keep valuables out of sight.

Driver licensing

To drive in New Zealand, a person must have a valid driver license. If you have a valid or current overseas driver’s license or international driving permit, you can drive using this permit for a maximum of 12 months from the date of your arrival in New Zealand. If your license is not in English, you must carry an accurate translation. You must apply in person for a driver’s license with New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) driver licensing agents:

Automobile Association (AA)

Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ)

Vehicle inspection New Zealand (VINZ)


Buying a car

When you buy a car, it is registered under the Motor Vehicle Register and if you are the first owner, you are issued registration plates.

You can buy a car from a registered motor vehicle trader, a car auction or privately. The safest way to buy a car is from a trader who is registered with the Motor Vehicle Trader register. Visit motortraders.govt.nz or free call 0508 668 678 to check.

Warrant of Fitness

  • Your car must always have a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy.
  • Search online for your local car garage WOFs centers and testing stations.
  • Car licensing (registration)
  • Car licensing and registration fees is a compulsory fee that helps to pay for road projects and safety programmes.
  • Make sure you buy your car from a trader on the Motor Vehicle Trader register. To check, visit motortraders.govt.nz or free call 0508 668 678.

More information

The Ministry of Consumers Protection and New Zealand Transport Agency also provides information and advice on the requirements of driving in New Zealand. Visit nzta.govt.nz for more information.

Ministry of Consumer Protection

NZTA Motor vehicle licensing and registrations

  • 0800 108 809


Schooling is compulsory from your child’s 6th–16th birthdays, either via a school enrollment or via homeschooling with permission from the Ministry of Education.

The New Zealand education system has five levels:

  • Early childhood education (ages 0–5)
  • Primary school (ages 5–10)
  • Intermediate school (ages 11–12)
  • High school (13–18)
  • Tertiary education (18+).

Your child is eligible for free education at a public school if:

  • you have a work visa
  • you have permanent residency
  • you are a New Zealand Aid Scholar or a PhD student in a New Zealand university.

Alternatively, you may choose to send your children to a private school where you will pay fees.

The school year:

  • runs from late January to early December for secondary schools
  • runs from late January to mid-December for primary schools
  • is divided into four terms.

Please visit the Ministry of Education website at education.govt.nz for the exact dates for school terms.

Most schools in Aotearoa New Zealand have ‘zones’ - areas where the majority of their students live. You don’t have to live within this area for your child to be able to attend the school, but it makes it more likely for your child to be accepted into that school. You can see the zone for the school at educationcounts.govt.nz/find- school.

After school care

After school care programmes are run in many areas. The Government helps to pay some

of the fees to help low income parents and caregivers with childcare they can afford. Visit workandincome.govt.nz or free call 0800 559 009 to check if you are eligible.


The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the national public examination system from Year 11. Visit nzqa.govt.nz/ncea for more information.

Learning support

Learning support helps children who may need additional support to achieve or engage in education. Children are able to access these services for a variety of support needs, including behaviour, speech, language, mobility, or vision support. Visit education.govt.nz or call 07 858 7130 for information about the schooling system in New Zealand.

Tertiary Education


There are eight universities in New Zealand including The Victoria University of Wellington and Messy University. All university students must be able to communicate in English and entry requirements may include assessment of English competence to qualify. International students need to pay the full rate of tuition fees.

Other tertiary education providers

There are many other tertiary education providers in the area. Polytechnics offer degrees, diplomas and certificates in vocational, technical and professional fields. For more information about courses and enrolment, contact the institution directly.

Reach out to Authorised Financial Advisors at fma.govt.nz to get help with financial decisions. These professionals can help you with budgeting, planning finances, setting up insurance, and buying assets like a car and a house, and you can find one at fma.govt.nz.

You can also go to sorted.org.nz, an independent money guide offering free, impartial information and calculators to help you manage your money.

New Zealand’s public healthcare system is free to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, work visa holders, or former refugees.

Health check-ups such as General Practice visits, and dental, skin, and eye checkups are not free. If you need emergency care but don’t meet the above requirements, you will still get the help you need.

A full guide to our healthcare system is available at moh.govt.nz/eligibility.

Family doctors

Your family doctor (also known as a general practitioner, or GP) will be your first contact with the healthcare system. It is free to enrol with any GP. You must pay for each GP visit, but you may be eligible for Government subsidies.

A friend or support person can stay with you during most medical examinations.

Publicly-funded health services

  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Free treatment at a public hospital 24-hour accident and emergency clinics
  • Free or subsidised health care for those suffering from acute or chronic conditions
  • All children 13 years or younger, and who

are eligible for publicly-funded health services can receive free daytime general practice care

For further information talk to your general practice or pharmacist.

  • Subsidised fees for visits by family members to GPs
  • Subsidised fees for visits to physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths when referred by a GP for an accident case
  • No charge for most lab tests and x-rays, except at private clinics
  • No charge for healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth, unless provided by the private medical sector
  • No charge for GP referrals to a public hospital for treatment
  • Free breast screening for women aged between 45–69 years.


GPs will sometimes refer you to a specialist for treatment. Accessing a specialist through the public health system is free, but you may go on a waiting list that can take a few months. To access specialist advice quickly, you (or your medical insurer, if you have private insurance) must pay all fees.

Accident Compensation Corporation(ACC) If you have an injury either at work or at home, ACC provides personal injury cover to New

Zealand citizens, residents and temporary visitors. Visit acc.co.nz or call 0800 101 996 for more information.

Health and Disability Commissioner

National Health and Disability Advocacy Service - Hamilton Office

  • 0800 55 5050

This service provides free confidential and independent advice on any concerns or complaints about any healthcare services or providers. It informs consumers of their rights and provides options for actions.

Women’s and children’s health

Many health services for children are free. Mothers of babies born in New Zealand are eligible for free, essential antenatal and postnatal services.

Ask your GP, your lead maternity carer, or nurse for more information about services. You can also visit moh.govt.nz.


Plunketline is a free parent helpline and advice service available for all families, and caregivers. It is available at any hour on any day.


Healthline is a free telephone advice service and is available at any hour on any day.

Immigrant and refugee children

Adults and children who enter New Zealand as refugees or immigrants will need an assessment of their documented vaccination status and an appropriate catch-up programme planned.

Regardless of their immigration and citizenship status, all children aged under 18 years are eligible to receive scheduled vaccines. All children are also eligible for Well Child Tamariki Ora services, regardless of immigration and citizenship status. Children previously immunised in a developing country may have received some vaccinations. However, they are unlikely to have received all of the vaccines currently on the New Zealand

immunisation schedule. For immigrant children, a catch-up immunisation plan may be needed.

Dental care

In New Zealand, dental healthcare is not funded through the public health system, although basic dental care for children is free from birth until they reach 18. To enrol, contact 0800 TALKTEETH (0800 825 583). Most people register and pay for dental care services with private dentists.

Waikato Hospital also runs a dental department for emergency dental treatment.

More useful information about dental care can be found from the following organisations:

Dental Council for New Zealand

New Zealand Dental Association

Private health insurance

If your budget allows, private health insurance helps you to access specialist treatment

sooner. The website at consumer.org.nz has useful information about types of health insurance and reliable companies.

Community Services Card

If you are a permanent resident with a medium or low income, you could be eligible for a Community Services Card. This can help you and your family with the cost of health care. You will pay less for doctors’ fees and prescriptions. Visit

workandincome.govt.nz or free call 0800 999 999.

Lawyers are required to provide confidential and independent advice. Legal fees vary, so enquire about fees before requesting services.

Free Legal advice is available at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Community Law Lower Hutt.

Call the local CAB on 04 566 6039 and Community Law on 04 568 8964  (eligibility requirements apply).

Legal ages

A range of age limits apply to different activities under New Zealand law. For instance, it is illegal to leave a child alone at home under the age of 14 or you must be 18 years before you are legally

allowed to purchase cigarettes and alcohol. Please visit youthlaw.co.nz for further information about rights and responsibilities of young people.

Human Rights Commission

It is illegal in New Zealand to discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnic background, sex, age, disability, religion or family status, among other things. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can contact the Human Rights Commission.

The Commission provides free and independent help. Visit hrc.co.nz or free call 0800 496 877.

Protection against family violence

Violence is unacceptable. The Police take family or domestic violence very seriously. Domestic violence includes things like physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal, and sexual abuse, scare tactics, controlling behaviour, threats, and intimidation.

Get help here:

Call the Police on 111 immediately if you or someone you know is in danger.

National Response for Sexual Harm (NEW) T 07 843 3810

Local Women’s Refuge

Citizens Advice Bureau


Employment and business

To work in New Zealand, you must either:

  • be a New Zealand or Australian citizen
  • hold permanent residency
  • hold a work permit
  • meet conditions which allow you to work on a student or visitor permit.

For general information, please visit the Immigration New Zealand website

newzealandnow.govt.nz or free call 0800 776 948.

Income tax

As soon as you arrive in New Zealand and even before you start a job, make sure you get an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number. IRD collects income tax from people who are employed or run a business. To apply for an IRD number, you need to give proof of identity, e.g. your passport or your driver licence. Please visit ird.govt.nz for more information.


Your international qualifications may need to be confirmed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Visit nzqa.govt.nz or call 0800 623 243 for more information.

Finding a job

If you are new with a resident or work visa and you need help finding a job, contact the Settlement Centre and make an appointment with the Migrant Employment Solutions (MES). You can also check the local daily newspaper, the Waikato Times, which advertises jobs on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Weekly local papers have job advertisements and you can also check these websites:

Employment laws

New Zealand has a comprehensive set of employment laws that help keep workplaces fair. Check out employment rights at newzealandnow. govt.nz/work-in-nz/employmentrights.

If you have work-related problems you can get free advice from:

Community Law Centre

Level 2/59 Queens Dr Lower Hutt 5010

  • 04 568 8964

Citizens Advice Bureau

  • 38 Queens Drive Lower Hutt 5010 ·
  • manager.lowerhutt@cab.org.nz
  • 04 566 6039
  • cab.org.nz

Work and Income

Employment New Zealand