Maritime NZ’s education and training framework makes sure seafarers who successfully complete their training in New Zealand have the competencies, skills and experience required to meet NZ education standards and any international obligations that apply.

Regulatory framework

Maritime New Zealand’s regulatory framework aims for an effective and seamless oversight of the training and examination of seafarers. It meets the requirements of New Zealand law and is consistent with international obligations. Maritime New Zealand has obligations under the following:

  • Maritime Transport Act 1994
  • Maritime Rules
  • Marine Protection
  • Rules International Conventions Maritime Security Act
  • Health and Safety at Work Act.

Who does what?

The key organisations involved in New Zealand seafarer training and examination are:

  • government, as represented by MNZ and NZQA
  • the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • Competenz, the industry training organisation and standard-setting body for the maritime sector
  • training providers – polytechnics/institutes of technology (ITPs) and private training establishments (PTEs).

Regulatory framework for New Zealand seafarer training and examination

MNZ sets the competencies that must be met to obtain a maritime certificate and is responsible for the final assessment process for issuing certificates (final examination). The competencies are set on the basis of international obligations, sector needs and statutory requirements to ensure maritime safety.

Competenz develops and moderates maritime qualifications and standards for assessment on the basis of MNZ competencies and industry input.

Training providers develop and provide the “programmes of learning for outcomes” (training courses) to deliver the NZQF standards and MNZ competency standards.

Consistency and Qualifications Review Panel provides oversight and input into new maritime training courses being developed for NZQA approval and manages the consistency of delivery of maritime national awards. The panel has representatives from Competenz, training providers and industry, and is chaired by MNZ.

NZQA registers training providers, approves programmes and applications for consent to assess against standards, and approves qualifications and standards. It also monitors and undertakes external evaluation and review of training providers and programmes, including moderation responsibilities (with MNZ providing technical support).


Competency-based training and assessment

Part 32 of the maritime rules requires seafarers to meet and maintain the required levels of competency to be issued and hold a certificate. The competencies for STCW and STCW-F certificates are incorporated by reference. Part 32 also provides the high-level competencies for national certificates, which are supported by more detailed competency frameworks provided by the Director of MNZ.

Competency frameworks

On-board training is recorded in a training record book (sometimes referred to as a STaRS book) approved by the Director, which sets out specific tasks and project work based on the competencies and proficiencies that must be completed.

The competency frameworks also provide the basis for Competenz, as the recognised organisation for setting standards for the maritime sector, to develop qualifications and assessment standards, and to support training providers in developing appropriate training programmes for a specific national certificate or endorsement.

Training can be provided by public and private training providers and, in some instances (such as ancillary proficiency training), by vessel operators, through courses that have been either accepted or approved by the Director of MNZ.

Training accepted under the Education Act

Most of the training for New Zealand seafarer certificates and endorsements is provided through New Zealand’s education system under the Education Act.

Training approved under Part 35

Where no national award is available under the Education Act, Part 35 of the maritime rules allows the Director of MNZ to approve training for a certificate or endorsement. This may include training delivered in combination with other training based on assessment standards provided for under the Education Act.

The Director can approve training:

  • provided in combination with NZQA assessment standard-based training
  • for the purpose of on-board training requirements or reduction of sea service
  • for bridging courses that enable transition between or renewal of certificates
  • for refreshing or updating competence or knowledge (such as changes in relevant national and international regulations, or technological changes).

Guidelines for developing courses for approval under Part 35:

  • High speed ship endorsement
  • Skipper restricted limits endorsed 500 to 3000 GT.

Maritime Rules Part 35 Subpart D

Maritime New Zealand recognises that there are organisations that operate small vessels from time to time as a minor part of their overall business. The people who are operating these vessels are unlikely to have enough ‘sea time’ to meet the requirements of a seafarer certificate issued under maritime rule part 32.

Maritime Rules Part 35 subpart D allows organisations to operate small vessels with existing experienced staff. It also provides for approval of organisations to train and issue industry-specific certificates of competency for staff who work within the maritime operations of the organisation.

Maritime Rules Part 35: Training and Examinations

Read the following documents when apply for approval to issue industry-specific certificates and completing your industry training plan template:

Application form for approval to issue industry-specific certificates [PDF: 228kB, 5 pages] Industry training plan template [PDF: 99kB, 11 pages] Guidance: Operators developing an industry training plan [PDF: 186kB, 10 pages]


Training providers

There are two types of training organisations offering seafarer training in New Zealand in addition to those who provide training under Part 35. These are polytechnics/institute of technology (ITPs) and private training establishments (PTEs).

ITPs deliver technical, vocational and professional education, while PTEs are private organisations that provide education/training (that is, they are not state-owned). ITPs offer a broader range of training up to NZQF Level 3 for seafarers. PTEs generally offer training towards lower-level national seafarer certificates.

Training providers need to be registered and have their training programmes approved and accredited by NZQA. Their responsibilities include:

  • developing and delivering training programmes, courses and internal assessments
  • internal course assessment and testing
  • maintaining a robust internal moderation regime for all internal assessment processes (required under the Education Act where assessments are against national standards, maritime rules or non-national standards)
  • maintaining internal quality management systems, which includes internal moderation processes.


Final examination

A critical quality-control element of the seafarer certification system is the final examination or assessment of candidates conducted by MNZ-appointed examiners or assessors. These take place after the successful completion of the required training programmes and sea service.

The final examination is in the form of an oral examination, conducted in an appropriate location. The exam is designed to determine whether the candidate has the necessary competencies and attributes to safely carry out the duties relevant to the certificate being applied for. It is based on the competencies set out in STCW, STCW-F or the national competency framework, as appropriate. The examination is usually organised by the training provider once all the requirements for the certificate have been achieved.

Failure to pass the final examination or assessment means the seafarer will not be issued with a certificate even if he or she has passed the required training courses and has maritime qualifications or certificates under the Education Act.

Final Examinations: Guidelines for candidates [PDF: 180kB, 2 pages]

Oversight of examiners and assessors

MNZ provides comprehensive oversight of the final examination system, which includes the recognition and training of examiners, review of examination results and trends, review and upkeep of examiner currency and conduct, and regular communication with examiners, including through forums and seminars.

All recognised examiners must have experience and training appropriate to the examinations they conduct. They are guided by examination frameworks provided by MNZ.

Maritime examiners and assessors may be employed by a training provider and conduct internal assessment for their training courses. However, they must not have had an academic relationship with the seafarer being examined.



Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about seafarer certification, please contact our Certification team.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 SEACERT or 0508 732 237

Calling from outside New Zealand:
+64 4 473 0111

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