New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Arboriculture) (Level 3) and New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Arboriculture) (Level 4)

This industry-standard qualification will provide you with the knowledge and skills to carry out tree maintenance and management activities at heights, including tree removal. Graduates will receive both the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Arboriculture) (Level 3) and the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Arboriculture) (Level 4).

About the programme

Do you love working outdoors and want a hands-on, physical job? Arborists/tree surgeons are in demand for their ability to care for, and maintain, trees.

Become a tree surgeon by studying arboriculture – a specialised field involving pruning, felling, transplanting and maintaining the health of trees and shrubs.

New Zealand’s diverse and robust horticulture and related industries have experienced a steady growth over recent years and this means that qualified and experienced arborists are in demand, not only in this country, but across the world.

Employment opportunities exist within City or District council parks and gardens, with private companies, or as a contract climber. With motivation and further experience you could even think about self-employment or tree care consultancy roles.

During this programme, you'll learn both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of carrying out arboriculture tasks, with an emphasis on hands-on training in parks and garden areas around Dunedin. Field trips and four weeks of work experience are important parts of the programme that help you to connect with those already working in this dynamic industry.

Graduates of this programme will receive both the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3) (Arboriculture) and New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 4) (Arboriculture).


Course Credits


  1. Work as effective team members in the horticulture sector
  2. Cooperate and participate within a horticulture team
  3. Communicate effectively using a range of techniques
  4. Listen and respond appropriately to team members and colleagues

Health and Safety Management

  • Identify and manage health and safety requirements in arboriculture
  • Identify and manage risks in arboriculture
Foundation Climbing Skills
  • Identify and use basic climbing equipment and techniques
  • Identify equipment and its appropriate use in climbing
  • Identify and use safe climbing techniques
Tree Identification and Pruning
  • Identify trees and carry out pruning tasks
  • Identify common trees used in arboritculture
  • Describe the structure and growth responses of plants
  • Apply basic pruning techniques to trees and shrubs
Ground Duties and Equipment
  • Carry out ground person tasks and maintain arboriculture equipment
  • Use and maintain arboriculture machinery and tools
  • Perform grounds person's duties in arboriculture situations
Tree Planting
  • Plant and establish trees and shrubs
  • Describe soil characteristics that influence plant growth
  • Prepare, plant, and establish a range of trees and shrubs
Supervisory Skills in Arboriculture
  • Use interpersonal communication skills to achieve desired outcomes in arboriculture
  • Instruct and supervise team members to achieve desired outcomes
  • Give and receive feedback in a supervisory role
Tree Climbing Technique
  • Climb trees safely in arboriculture
  • Climb trees using a range of approved techniques
  • Carry out an aerial rescue in arboriculture situations
Pruning Techniques
  • Carry out pruning techniques in arboriculture situations
  • Prune trees and shrubs using a range of techniques
  • Use chainsaws to prune safely at height
Tree Health
  • Assess tree health in arboriculture situations
  • Identify and describe pests, diseases and disorders
  • Carry out a tree assessment in arboriculture situations
Tree Felling
  • Fell trees safely from the ground
  • Directionally fell trees in a controlled manner using a range of techniques
  • Limb and process felled trees in arboriculture situations
Sectional Felling
  • Sectionally fell trees in arboriculture situations
  • Dismantle trees in a controlled manner without the use of rigging equipment
  • Dismantle trees in a controlled manner using rigging techniques

Health and safety

There are a number of health and safety issues associated with the practical delivery of arboriculture training. You will be advised of the physical risks and requirements of the programme either in person or by telephone before you enrol. You will be advised of the need to purchase the listed clothing and equipment and the reasons for this. 

Risks include injury to the body due to the physical nature of arboriculture work (manual labour, lifting, bending, falls from working at heights, eyesight) and from using sharp tools and equipment (secateurs, hand saws, chainsaws, spades) and larger machinery (chipper). There is a risk from poisonous plants, insect stings, the physical environment (excessive heat or cold, wet weather, working in isolation and machinery noise). 

We are part of Te Pūkenga

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people, and you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.