Why Study Psychology in New Zealand?


Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand! Land of Hobbits, and many, many sheep

Just to give a bit of context (because social psychologists are all about the context), Aotearoa New Zealand has a population of about 4.5 million people, around the same as the Republic of Ireland. Just over two-thirds are Pākehā (New Zealanders of European descent), with a further 15% identifying as Māori (‘indigenous’ New Zealanders). Generally speaking, we enjoy a high standard of living, and Lonely Planet (and other experts) characterise Aotearoa New Zealand as a brilliant place to live, work, or visit. The New Zealand Tourism body markets the place via a campaign characterised by branding us as “100% Pure New Zealand”, accompanied by pictures of pristine mountainscapes and Hobbit holes.

Social, legal, and political relations between Pākehā and Māori are strongly influenced by the closest thing to a constitutional document that we have – Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi). Signed in 1840, signatories included Chiefs of the major Māori tribes, and representatives of the British Crown. The treaty has three articles describing the boundaries of Crown sovereignty and the right to self-determination by Māori. As a result of this (still contested) agreement, Māori have been able to make arguments for restitution for historical grievances that have been denied to aboriginal Australians (New Zealand’s ‘West’ Island). Studying in New Zealand isn’t just about academics, it’s also a cultural experience.


Victoria University of Wellington

This information isn’t provided (solely) as an advert for our attractions, but rather because it’s useful in understanding the emphases on psychology in the region.

An introduction to New Zealand Universities and psychology departments

Psychology is one of the most popular subjects for University study in New Zealand, and many students take psychology as a complement to a vocational course of study such as law or commerce. There are eight Universities in New Zealand, all ranked in the world’s top 4% according to QS World University Rankings. Because of where we sit in the world, New Zealand Universities are really internationalised – many faculty and students come to us from outside of New Zealand.

Seven-ish Universities have identifiable Psychology Departments, three of which (Victoria University of Wellington, Auckland, and Otago) are ranked in the top 100 departments in the world. What this means is that you can be confident that you’re getting a world-class psychology education around these parts.

Undergraduate Psychology in New Zealand