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New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4)


Dunedin or online

One year full-time; two years part-time (only available for Dunedin option)

On campus in Dunedin or online

Both options include a work placement (late August to mid-November)

Before 31 January
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Distance
    21 February 2022
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
  • Dunedin
    21 February 2022
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022

Are you a compassionate, open minded and optimistic person? Do you value manaaki, whanaungatanga and partnership?

Can you inspire hope and facilitate wellbeing across the four dimensions of hauroa (health) including tinana (physical), hinengaro (mental and emotional), whānau (family and social) and wairua (spiritual and connection)?  

Aligned with local and industry needs and national strategies, this programme will provide you with the practical knowledge and skills you need for support work in social service, disability or mental health and addiction settings. Our graduates have a high employment rate and many are offered work during or after their fieldwork placements in the second semester. 

So, if you want to make a difference in your community, if you are a mover and a shaker, and if you have a genuine interest in supporting people to live their best life, then apply for this programme and kick start your rewarding career!  

Our programme philosophy 

Our philosophy and value base is grounded in strengths theory, empowerment and Te Whare Tapa Wha. We believe that, given the right support and the right attitude, everyone is capable of achieving whatever they set out to achieve. We aim to provide the right support for each of our students and we value the vast array of life experience and expertise that each student brings.

During this programme we have open and sometimes difficult conversations about sensitive topics such as abuse, violence, suicide, mental distress, disability, addiction, privilege, racism and discrimination. You will be encouraged to look inwards and reflect on life experiences that have shaped you. Alongside the tough work, you'll build your own practice kete, filling it with techniques and strategies to enhance your natural ability to support others. You will develop lifelong friendships with an array of caring, like-minded people who come from a variety of life paths. 


The course content can be triggering as conversations can bring up personal traumatic experiences. 

Like any social service course, there is a therapeutic element. It is impossible to learn the theories of human development and the theories that inform support without thinking about your own experience. You will be strongly encouraged to practice self-care and access personal counselling if you need it. 

The ability to ask for help and the capacity to develop skills and strategies to manage your own risks, triggers and anxieties is an essential skill in health and wellbeing work. 

We have excellent support networks in place and you will always be able to speak with a member of the teaching team to chat about what support options are available for you.  

We look forward to welcoming you into our whare.  

What will I study? 
This programme is made up of seven courses. You will complete six compulsory courses and choose one specialty strand course:
  • Community Facilitation
  • Mental Health and Addiction
  • Social Services
If you choose to complete one specialty at the Certificate level, you are not restricted to that specialty should you choose to progress to the Bachelor of Social Services.
Compulsory courses 
Course name Summary Outcomes

Aotearoa New Zealand

Semester 1

Term 1 

15 credits 

Develop your effectiveness in
support work with mana whenua and tangata whenua  

  1. Articulate how the principles of Te Tiriti O Waitangi inform health and wellbeing support work
  2. Display regard for Kai Tahu and Te Ao Māori values and concepts in practice Utilise te reo and tikaka to display bi-cultural competence 

Self and Culture 

Semester 1

Term 1 

15 credits


Enhance your self-awareness
and aptitude for working with 
cultural diversity


  1. Empathise and display cultural competence with people from diverse backgrounds 
  2. Apply human development theory to identify how life experience impacts on identity, culture and wellbeing 
  3. Reflect on personal and professional development needs and implement personal goal plans 

Theories, Models and Tools 

Semester 1

Term 2 

15 credits 

Aiming to incite ihi, wehi and wana for the theory, models and tools informing planned and intentional practice


  1. Select culturally-appropriate theory, models and tools to support tangata whai ora and where relevant their whanau 
  2. Apply a planned change approach to engage, gather information, develop and review plans 
  3. Display effective interpersonal skills and essential attitudes and values for work in the health and wellbeing sector 

Community Project

Semester 1

Term 2 

20 credits 

Build your capacity to 
work in teams
participating effectively
and contributing to leadership   

  1. Act responsibly and display leadership skills 
  2. Develop and use networks to solve problems and practice sustainably 
  3. Give and receive constructive feedback and reflect on performance 

Workplace Practice 

Semester 2

Terms 3 and 4 

25 credits 

Ensure you are work-ready and able to integrate and apply 
knowledge, values and skills in a health and 
wellbeing workplace  

  1. Work independently and collaboratively, 
    demonstrating resourcefulness, organisation and professionalism in a health and wellbeing setting 
  2. Establish rapport and communicate effectively to provide strengths-focused, planned, intentional and culturally-competent support for clients 


Semester 2

Term 4 

15 credits 

Become equipped with skills and strategies to 
facilitate and maintain
the health and safety of
self and others 

  1. Integrate hauora principles and legislation to uphold tangata whai ora rights and dignity 
  2. Utilise strategies to manage risks and keep self and others safe 
  3. Apply tō kete tūhauora to build resilience and promote wellbeing and work life balance 
Strand courses 
As part of your application, you need to select your first, second and third choice of strand. We will aim to give you your first choice but due to high numbers, this isn't always possible. If you are very particular about your first choice, please use your personal statement to strongly outline why.  

Course name Summary Outcomes

Strand: Community
Facilitation (Disability) 

Semester 2

Term 3

15 credits 

Be empowered so
you're able to facilitate
client autonomy and strengths in a
disability context  


  1. Recognise characteristics, and impacts, for a range of motor, sensory and intellectual disabilities 
  2. Monitor your own attitudes, values and skills to uphold industry standards and ethical practice 
  3. Access and draw on supports and resources to address barriers and support autonomy 

Strand: Mental Health 
and Addiction 

Semester 2

Term 3 

15 credits  


Be empowered so
you're able to facilitate
client recovery and strengths in a mental health and addiction

  1. Recognise characteristics, and impacts, for a range of mental health and addiction issues 
  2. Monitor you own attitudes, values and skills to uphold industry standards and ethical practice 
  3. Access and draw on supports and resources to enhance recovery and build resilience 

Strand: Social Services 

Semester 2

Term 3 

15 credits 

Be empowered so 
you're able to facilitate
client resilience and strengths in a social services context 

  1. Recognise characteristics, and impacts, for a range of issues related to family violence, inclusion and community wellbeing 
  2. Monitor your own attitudes, values and skills in relation to industry standards and ethical practice 
  3. Access and draw on supports and resources to reduce vulnerability and build resilience
Studying part-time

Many students find that they are able to complete the programme in one year alongside work and family commitments. However, if you feel you'd prefer to study part-time, you can if you're studying at our Dunedin Campus. This part-time option is not available if you're studying online. 

Term Year 1 course Credits Year 2 course Credits
1 Aotearoa NZ 15 Self and Culture 15
2 Theory, Models and Tools 15 Community Project 20
3 Elective 15 Workplace Practice  
4 Hauora 15 Workplace Practice 25
    60   60
Work placement information 

Work placements are an important aspect of your practical learning experience and, as much as possible, we aim to position you in a work placement that will enable you to pursue and meet your career and life aspirations. 

Depending on your specialty strand, you may find yourself supporting clients for the Special Olympics, working in a kaupapa Māori service, running a baking group or art activity in a day programme, working on a ward at a hospital, participating in an afterschool or holiday programme, working in elderly care or playing indoor football with a group of youth.

Placement process 

  • At the beginning of semester two, you'll complete placement preference forms
  • Following this activity, the placement coordinator and the team will discuss your preferences, strengths and any gaps and match you to a placement we feel will be appropriate for you.
  • Campus students and online students living in Dunedin or close by will be allocated a placement by our placement coordinator.
  • Online students and those from outside of Dunedin will need to follow this process:
    • you are required to explore workplace opportunities within your local community and bring placement possibilities to our placement coordinator
    • we encourage you to begin this process as part of your networking requirement in semester one and we will have conversations with you so that you are not doing this on your own
    • our placement coordinator will then work with you and your placement possibilities to negotiate a placement
    • it is imperative that any service providing a placement agrees to meet our placement requirements to keep everybody safe and happy and ensure that you can meet programme learning outcomes. 

Placement and networking timeframe, days and hours 

Placement hours (110)

Daily work activities, placement goals and assessment work

Networking hours (20)

Networking hours may include:

  • staff meetings or training outside of scheduled placement hours 
  • visiting internal services distinct from the placement service 
    outside of scheduled placement hours 
  • attending external training or established networks 
  • visiting external services that the organisation or clients interact

Placement start date

Anytime from late August

Placement end date 

Any time before mid-November 

Placement timeframe

6 weeks minimum and 12 weeks maximum depending on start date

As a guide:

  • a minimum of 6 weeks requires 18 hours per week 
  • a maximum of 12 weeks requires 9 hours per week 

Placement days


Negotiated between the student and the mentor 

Please do not schedule placement hours on class days. Class days are Thursdays and Fridays in Term 3 and Fridays in Term 4

Timetable, workload and attendance 

Timetable and workload

If your application is successful, you'll be provided with:

  • a detailed full year timetable 
  • assessment dates 
  • assessment policy and detailed attendance expectations. 

In the meantime, please note the following information: 

  • the programme starts in mid to late February and ends in late November 
  • our teaching weeks align with Primary School Terms as much as possible 
  • the programme involves approximately 35 hours per week of study time (teacher directed and student managed learning hours) - these will not all be in class. 

In general...

  • Campus students will attend classes at the Dunedin Campus (on Forth Street) from 9.00am to 4.00pm on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the year.  
  • Online students will attend online classes between 9.00am and 4.00pm on Thursdays and Fridays. Online classes are generally scheduled in one or two hour blocks. 
  • Wednesdays are self-directed study days but must be available for optional assessment tutorials, group work projects, assessment presentations and group evaluations. 
  • Mondays and Tuesdays are flexible in the first semester (Feb - June) but need to be available during the second semester (July - Nov) for work placements. 
  • There are several presentation weeks or workshop intensives throughout the year where campus students will be required to attend a full day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm. 
  • On campus and online students need to be available for an orientation week in mid to late February. 
  • Scheduled classes are reduced in the final term to allow for more focused time for work placements. 
  • In addition to classes on campus, you will be required to access material and work through learning activities and assessment tasks independently. All courses, course material and a range of optional resources are available online to support your learning. 

Overview of programme delivery 

Semester/term Day/time Course name Learning hours

Semester 1

Term 1

Thursday & Friday



Self and Culture 

Aotearoa New Zealand




Semester 1

Term 2

Thursday & Friday



Theory, Models and Tools

Community Project




Semester 2 

Term 3

Thursday & Friday



Workplace Practice 

Specialty strand





Semester 2

Term 3 and 4




Workplace Practice




Semester 2

Term 4








Attendance requirements 

Campus students are expected to attend all campus classes and engage in all learning activities. 

The online programme is more flexible and requires students to be self-managing. For online study, you will:

  • have the opportunity to participate in more or less scheduled classes depending on what suits your needs 
  • be required to access and work through online learning modules and activities in your own time 
  • participate in group assessment activities and attend two scheduled tutorial sessions (one to two hours per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and/or Fridays
  • attend presentation days on Wednesdays, Thursdays and/or Fridays as required. 
A typical day on campus 
  • We begin each day at 9.00am with a 30 minute whakapiri or engagement. 
  • On most days, the entire teaching team will attend. 
  • We start with a karakia. Students are invited to bring their own special blessings and share these over the year. 
  • We sing some waiata and then we engage in a brief body scan or mindfulness meditation. 
  • After this we discuss panui and staff and students share their important news. 
  • After panui, staff who are not teaching on the day leave and we settle down to look at the agenda and work through the activities. 
  • We work through until 10.45am and then we take a 30 minute break. 
  • We work from 11.15am through to 1.00pm and then we take a lunch break. 
  • Pre-lunch, learning activities are directed by the teaching team. 
  • From 2.00pm-4.00pm, the learning environment is generally (but not always) less structured and formal. Students who want to get away a little earlier are free to do so unless we explicitly state otherwise. 
  • Generally we spend this time working on course assessments. Students are able to put their name on the board and staff work around the students, attending individual questions and support needs. We find this a lovely and relaxing way to deepen relationships and offer support in a transparent and fair way. 
  • At 4.00pm, we wrap up for the day.
What can I do after this programme? 

Students completing this programme follow a wide variety of pathways. Many gain employment in the field and others choose to further their study with our Bachelor of Social Services, Bachelor of Occupational Therapy or Bachelor of Nursing

Others decide they want to follow a different path and choose to do further study in Design, Management, Culinary Arts, Horticulture, Sport, Law or Teaching (to name a few!)

Additional costs and student loans

Whilst this programme is free for you to study via the Trades and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), this fund only covers tuition fees and compulsory costs such as student levies. It does not cover any additional costs or living costs. 

The additional costs for this programme are: 

  • fieldwork placement - you will need to budget for this accordingly ((you will be expected to pay for your travel expenses to and from your placement and for any meals)
  • laptop. 

You can pay for additional and living costs by yourself if that is possible for you or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink.      

It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

  • For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website 

Please note: Student Loans and Allowances and TTAF are available for domestic students only.   

Entry requirements
  • Open entry (no academic qualifications needed) but you must:
    • disclose any criminal convictions before commencing the programme,
    • give permission for a police check to be completed prior to commencing the programme.
  • You will take part in an informal discussion with the Programme Manager to check your readiness to engage with the programme.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure you are ready for this study. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes. 

Other recommended skills  

This programme is all about preparing you to hold the wellbeing of vulnerable people in your hands. As such, you need to be self-managing, self-aware and culturally-competent. These three skill sets are fundamental to our discipline, highly desirable in health and wellbeing work and underpin all learning in this programme. 


To self-manage means to take responsibility for your own experience and success. Self-managing people read instructions, ask questions, seek support, make effective decisions, show up, keep promises, follow process, organise themselves and meet commitments in a timely manner. 


To be self-aware means to understand how your experiences have shaped your behaviours, values, beliefs and biases. Self-aware people recognise their own risks and triggers, manage their anxiety and stress, receive and give constructive criticism and identify and set goals to address personal and professional development needs. 

Cultural competence 

To be culturally-competent means first and foremost to recognise that Aotearoa New Zealand is a bi-cultural society and that there are multi-ethnic peoples living here. Being culturally-competent requires the ability to work with diversity whether that be related to ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age or any other status. 

We will support you throughout the programme to develop and hone these skills. However, we expect that you will bring a natural inclination towards self-management, self-awareness and cultural competence. 


As a support worker, you need to be able to read policy and read and write case notes. During the programme, we will actively support you to develop these skills alongside academic literacy skills for higher level study. However, this is not a literacy programme and you do need to be able to read, comprehend and write from the outset. If you have concerns about your literacy skills, consider starting with one of our foundation programmes, talk to teaching staff during your application interview and look out for student support literacy workshops during the first term and throughout the year. 

Computer literacy 

  • Online study - computer literacy is essential if you are keen to study in the online stream. At a minimum, you need to be able to set up a word document, word process, send an email, attach a document to an email, use an online forum, manage your own microphone and camera, contribute to the programme's Facebook page and find information online. 
  • On campus study - computer literacy is also essential in this stream as all course information is provided online and most assessments require word processing skills at a minimum. 

You will need to be computer literate in most support work roles as client notes are recorded and stored online. We will support you to develop essential computer literacy during this programme but if you're concerned about your level of computer literacy, please take steps to develop your skills or consider starting with one of our foundation programmes

Driver's licence 

Upon graduation, a driver's licence is desirable as this is a requirement in many support work roles. If you do not currently have a driver's licence, maybe consider aiming to achieve this alongside your other study goals. 

Covid-19 vaccine

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it's highly recommended that you are vaccinated against Covid-19 if you want to apply for this programme. 

All social services sector organisations engaging workers have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to take all reasonable steps to eliminate, or otherwise control, the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace. 

The New Zealand Government has mandated the vaccine for frontline health care workers. Many of the social services providers we work with are requiring their staff, including any students on placement, to be vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination.  

As more providers follow suit, if you are:

  • unvaccinated, or
  • choose not to disclose whether or not you are vaccinated, or
  • choose not to provide evidence if asked about your vaccination status

this will have an impact on placements that you can be allocated to and will have an impact on successful completion of the programme.

Want your existing skills recognised?

If you are currently working in the industry and have at least five years' of experience in your chosen strand, you may already meet learning outcomes for one or more courses. If this sounds like you, please talk to staff at your interview about the possibility of being awarded some credits and participating in an individualised programme.   

How do I apply?
Step one -  Click here to start your online application >

There are quite a few questions on the online application form so give yourself plenty of time to complete it. You can save the form and come back to it later if you need to. 

You will need to scan and upload your filled in applicants pack when you apply so make sure you have it easily accessible. 

If you need help at any stage with your application, contact our friendly staff - or 0800 762 786.  

The online application form requires that you:

  • disclose existing or pending criminal convictions
  • give consent for police vetting (see further info about what this means below)
  • declare any issues that may impact on your ability to be safe and successful in the programme and field work placement 
  • provide contact details for two referees who can vouch that you are suitable for study and work in health and wellbeing 
  • provide parent or caregiver consent if you are under 18 
  • provide proof of competence in English Language if English is not your first language (overall Academic IELTS of 5.5 achieved in one test completed in the last two years)
  • write and upload a personal statement (TIP: prepare your personal statement before you apply). 

For your personal statement, please explain in a maximum of 250 words:

  • Why you want to complete this qualification and why you have chosen the specialty strand that you have? 
  • What knowledge, experience, skills or values you will bring to this mahi (work)? 
  • What aspects of study might be a struggle for you and how you might best be supported?

Police vetting 

An important part of the programme is work experience. In order to arrange work experience for you, we need to assure the employer of your suitability in working in their service with vulnerable clients. As such, we require information about any criminal offences that apply to you. 

All applicants are required to:

  • declare existing or pending criminal offences during your application 
  • provide consent for the Polytechnic to request a New Zealand Police Vetting Report 
  • provide consent for the Polytechnic to share your New Zealand Police Vetting Report with a proposed organisation for the purpose of them determining your suitability to carry out a placement in their organisation with vulnerable clients 
  • inform your Programme Leader of any criminal charges or pending charges you receive after completing the original declaration and throughout your year of study. 

Please note: Failure to declare charges prior to enrolment or during study may result in you being withdrawn from the programme.

Some offences may affect our decision on whether or not to accept your application for the programme. In this case, we will make every effort to advise you in person and to offer you alternative study options.

Please also note that it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure social and community work experiences for students with recent criminal convictions. If we have concerns, we will discuss these in person at individual interviews. If you have concerns, please feel comfortable to raise these with us. Criminal convictions will not necessarily prevent you from completing the programme, but they may restrict work experience placements we can offer you and impact on your employability. 

For more information about police vetting, please see the Police Vetting Guide.  

Step two - Applicant interviews  

When you have completed your application and submitted all of the necessary documents, your application will be sent to the school. 

The programme administrator will then send you an email inviting you to a two hour group interview and workshop. 

You will need to organise your time so you can attend the full two hours. 

You will need to bring two original forms of ID to your interview. One primary and one secondary. At least one ID must include a photograph. For examples of primary and secondary ID sources, see Evidence of Identity, page 3 of the NZ Police Vetting Guide.

Please note that your application cannot progress until two original forms of ID have been witnessed, stamped and signed by staff. These are required to initiate the police vetting process. 

The interview will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • meet staff and fellow applicants 
  • ask questions and clarify concerns 
  • engage in learning activities typical of the programme including some work with a partner, some group work and a reading and writing activity 
  • discuss any specific concerns or fears with a member of the teaching team. 

Once the interview has finished, if you realise the programme is not quite right for you, you can withdraw quickly and easily by letting staff know directly or by withdrawing your application online. 

Step three - Application outcome 

Following the interview, you will receive notification of your application status. 


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.

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