Who we are

The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Ltd is a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology and is the nation’s leading distance and online learning provider. Our focus is on learner success for around 30,000 learners each year.

Since we opened in 1946, Open Polytechnic has specialised in open distance flexible learning (ODFL). Our organisation was created to ensure adult learners could gain the skills they needed for their current or future career, without having to attend full-time study at a physical campus.

Learners from throughout New Zealand and overseas take advantage of the flexibility of distance and online learning to gain the skills they need to progress in their jobs and careers.

We’re one of the largest educators of the current workforce, our graduates can be found in every major workplace throughout the country.

Vocational education that supports a thriving and resilient economy and prosperous communities throughout New Zealand.

Open Polytechnic's Vision/Ngā Wawata


Our qualifications

We offer over 100 qualifications and around 1,000 courses. Our range of qualifications allows learners to staircase from certificate to diploma and degree level (Levels 1–7 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework). They include technical and vocational training, through to higher professional and continuing education.

We work with industry to develop most of our programmes and courses. We also maintain close relationships with appropriate professional and industry bodies.

All our qualifications meet rigorous and transparent quality standards. They have been approved the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, which has accredited us to deliver them.

We are government funded and owned.


The objective of governance and leadership at Open Polytechnic is to ensure the organisation develops and maintains:

• A clear strategic direction
• Sound academic policies and regulations
• Robust reporting, monitoring and control mechanisms
• Engages its key stakeholders 

Open Polytechnic is governed by a board of directors, and managed by the Chief Executive supported by our executive team.

History of Open Polytechnic

Over its more than 70-year history, Open Polytechnic has continually evolved to meet the changing vocational learning needs of New Zealand’s workforce.

The organisation began life as the Technical Correspondence School with a roll of 615 learners, opening on 1 July 1946 to provide distance learning from our home base in Wellington. Our role was to provide resettlement training, predominantly in trades and farming subjects, for returned servicemen and women following World War II.

The immediate post-war increase in apprenticeship training resulted in a rapid expansion of roles and courses. Apprentices across New Zealand who were unable to attend suitable courses at their local technical high school were required to enrol at the Technical Correspondence School. Courses in these early years covered farming, motor mechanics, engineering, agriculture, horticulture, surveying, electrics, plumbing, textiles and more.

By 1953, we reached our first 1000 learners and the next few years saw a period of quick growth. About two in every five apprentices in New Zealand were studying through the Technical Correspondence School by the early 1960s.

We were renamed the New Zealand Technical Correspondence Institute in 1963, gaining a similar status to the newly formed technical institutes around New Zealand. During the 1970s, we cemented our place as the largest provider of trade and technician training in New Zealand.

During the 1980s, we grew our offering in professional courses such as accountancy, management, banking and business studies to reflect the societal and economic changes New Zealand was experiencing.

Start of a new era

Under 1990 tertiary education reforms, we were renamed The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. The reform had a major impact on the Open Polytechnic and resulted in a fundamental change to our role as an education provider.

Previously restricted to providing vocational courses that were not locally available to apprentices and technicians, the reforms meant we could offer a broader range of courses to people anywhere across New Zealand. With this we became the specialist national provider of open and distance learning at tertiary level.

The education reforms meant that the Open Polytechnic was able to start offering degrees and our first learner graduated with a Bachelor of Business in 1995.

Open and distance learning

The following years were a period of ongoing transformation for the Open Polytechnic as we reinforced our role as New Zealand’s specialist provider of open and distance learning at tertiary level and expanded our range of programmes to meet a broader range of employer and industry needs.

During the 1990s the Open Polytechnic took advantage of new technology for the delivery of its courses. Printed materials increasingly became supplemented with audio and video tapes, computer disks and CD-ROMS. In addition learners had access to their tutors via toll-free telephone lines and the internet. From 1997 the first Open Polytechnic courses were being offered via the internet.

We developed an international reput