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Schools & kura

Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions

Illegal suspensions (“kiwi suspensions”)

Schools sometimes use illegal ways of removing a students from school (sometimes called “Kiwi suspensions”).

You can only be sent home from school if you’re stood down or suspended for one of the specific reasons in Education and Training Act, or if you’re sent home for health reasons.

What is a kiwi suspension?

Education and Training Act 2020, ss 80, 88; Education (Stand-Down, Suspension, Exclusion, and Expulsion) Rules 1999, rule 8

A kiwi suspension is when you’re told to go home but haven’t been stood down or suspended formally (see “Stand downs” and “Suspensions” above). Or if you are asked to voluntarily withdraw but haven’t been excluded or expelled. Kiwi suspensions are illegal.

For example, it would be against the law if you were:

  • told not to come back to school unless you cut your hair
  • sent home for not wearing the correct uniform
  • told to stay home because your teacher aide is away from school.

Education and Training Act 2020, s 45

Principals can excuse you from school for short periods (up to five days). For example, to go to a tangi or funeral. Schools can’t send you home as a punishment without following the proper standdown or suspension process.

Can the school pressure me to withdraw voluntarily?

No, but this does happen.

Here are examples of students being pressured to leave:

  • students being told by the principal to leave the school “before you’re excluded or expelled”, or
  • told that their “needs might be met better at another school”.

You shouldn’t be pressured to withdraw from school in these types of situations. The school has an obligation to support you if there are problems. Your principal has to take all reasonable steps to make sure you get good guidance and counselling.

A principal might try to stop students from going to the school without following the proper process if they know you couldn’t be suspended legally. Remember that principals don’t have the power to exclude or expel you – only the school board can do this, and only after following the proper process.

If you think you have been removed from school illegally, contact the Student Rights Service, YouthLaw, your local Community Law Centre, or the Ministry of Education. See “Where to go for more support” at the end of this guide

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Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions

Where to go for more support

Community Law


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