Recruitment | Ko Te Rehita

Working in NZ
Rural primary health care in New Zealand

Rural primary health care in New Zealand is delivered predominantly by medical practitioners in private general practices. Other providers include public health organisations, trusts, and groups working together with their communities.

Rural general practices range from sole practitioner practices to larger practices sometimes with up to six or seven General Practitioners. Along with General Practitioners, the practice team includes rural nurse specialists, Nurse Practitioners, receptionists, and allied health workers.

There are about 200 rural general (family) practices in New Zealand. They can be found in small towns close to major rural centres or in remote settlements located in the most beautiful places in New Zealand, with mountains, beaches, lakes, or rivers at the doorstep.

Māori Health

Increasing access, achieving equity and improving health outcomes for Māori is a key priority for Hauora Taiwhenua, Health NZ and the Māori Health Authority.

There are about 240 Māori health providers in New Zealand. They tend to deliver services to predominantly – but not exclusively – Māori communities. In addition, there are a number of providers of health and disability services to Māori.

Māori health models are built on four cornerstones: whānau (family health), tinana (physical health), hinengaro (mental health) and wairua (spiritual health). Traditional healing includes mirimiri (massage), rongoa (herbal treatments) and karakia (spiritual prayer). Traditional healers incorporate the spiritual dimension in assessment and therapy and do so in a culturally relevant way.

For many Māori, the major deficiency in modern health services is taha wairua (spiritual dimension). This failure of Pakeha (Non-Māori) health providers to appreciate Māori cultural perceptions of health, in combination with socio-economic conditions and genetics, has meant statistics on Māori health care compare very poorly with those of non-Māori (Pakeha).

He Korowai Oranga (New Zealand’s Māori Health Strategy) is based on three key principles, which incorporate principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and an understanding that Māori will have an important role in implementing health for Māori.

These principles are:

Working together with iwi, hapu, whānau and Māori communities to develop better outcomes for Māori health gain and appropriate health and disability services.

Involving Māori at all levels of the sector, in decision-making, planning, development and delivery of health and disability services.

Working to ensure Māori have at least the same level of health as non-Māori, safeguarding Māori cultural concepts, values and practices.

General Practitioners in New Zealand

There are many reasons to work as a GP in a rural practice in New Zealand including the opportunity to deliver health care to small tight-knit communities, and the range of varied and interesting clinical work. The rural lifestyle and slower pace of life is also appealing to many, as is the opportunity to take a break from the stresses of managing a practice. Working as a rural locum is a wonderful way of discovering remote and beautiful parts of New Zealand. If you are looking for a permanent position, you can match where you work with your lifestyle interests.

Nurse Practitioners in New Zealand

Nurse Practitioners are a vital part of the rural health workforce in New Zealand. Many nurse practitioners work in primary care where they may be the lead health care provider for their communities. This is common in rural areas particularly where it is hard to source a GP. Some nurse practitioners also own their own practices. Nurse practitioners are highly valued in rural and underserved areas where they are often the only health provider available.

If you are an internationally qualified nurse, registered nurses or Nurse Practitioner from the US, Canada and the UK, you can register as a registered nurse with the Nursing Council of New Zealand. To become a Nurse Practitioner, you must then apply and meet the criteria required for registration in the NP scope of practice.

What do you need to know about moving to New Zealand?


If you are arriving in New Zealand from overseas it is highly likely that you will require a work permit or visa to work in the country.

Visit Immigration New Zealand (INZ) for more information.

COVID-19 Requirements

All health workers in New Zealand must be vaccinated for COVID-19. Information can be found on the Ministry of Health website here.

From 31 July 2022 there will be no managed isolation period, but vaccinated and eligible travellers entering New Zealand must take two rapid antigen tests (RAT) after they arrive on day 0 and day 5/6 and self-monitor for symptoms.

NZLocums & NZMedJobs can assist you with any questions you may have about Covid-19 vaccination and isolation requirements.


Your New Zealand income tax obligations will depend on your individual circumstances. We strongly recommend you obtain independent tax advice from a professional accountant regarding your personal tax situation.

If you are working as a roving locum through NZLocums & NZMedJobs you will be engaged as an independent contractor, whereas if you are contracted directly to the practice you may be either an employee or an independent contractor depending on the terms of your agreement.

The New Zealand tax department is called the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and all information, forms and enquiries can be found online at During your NZLocums & NZMedJobs Orientation course we arrange for you to speak with an IRD employee to discuss tax in New Zealand and how it will affect you personally. There is a dedicated team at IRD that deals with Non-Resident Contractors which you can contact to apply for tax exemption.

Medical Registration

To work in New Zealand as a doctor you need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ). The registration process is straight forward, and usually doctors who have qualified and worked in countries with comparable health systems are not required to sit any exams to gain registration with the MCNZ.

There are four types of pathways to gain registration in New Zealand, with each requiring different criteria. NZLocums & NZMedJobs will determine the best pathway to registration (licensure) for you and discuss the requirements with you. If you have been working in any of these countries for 33 (or more) months out of the last 48 months, it is likely you will be eligible to apply for MCNZ registration.

In addition to obtaining a primary medical degree, graduates of Australian, British and Irish medical schools must have successfully completed an accredited internship in their respective authorities prior to apply for registration in New Zealand.

For those doctors who have not worked in the listed countries you may be required to sit the MCNZ registration examination before being approved for medical registration in New Zealand. If you have a post graduate qualification from any country and are practising as a consultant / specialist in your own country, you may be eligible to apply for vocational (specialist) registration in New Zealand.

You may be required to provide proof of your English proficiency before you are able to apply for medical registration.

If English is not your first language you may first need to sit and pass one of the following exams:

In some instances, the MCNZ may allow you to be exempt from this test if you have worked in an English-speaking country for two years within the five years preceding your application.

The Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) requires international medical graduates applying for registration in New Zealand to have certain documents verified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, through their website EPIC, a primary-source verification service.

You will be required to have your documents primary-source verified through EPIC if you are:

  • a first-time applicant for registration, and do not already, or have not in the past, held any other form of registration;
  • registered with the MCNZ but are applying for registration in a new scope of practice that relies on a qualification that has not been previously assessed by MCNZ.

Whether you are a junior doctor or a consultant, supervision is a requirement of the MCNZ for all new registrants, (the exception is Australian graduates), and is an excellent way to integrate and familiarise yourself with practicing in New Zealand. The role of the supervisor is to assist the Council in determining that you have the required skills, knowledge and attitudes to practise safely in New Zealand to a standard comparable to your peers in this country.

NZLocums & NZMedJobs organises supervision arrangements prior to your arrival in New Zealand. Your supervisor may change if you move to a different location to work. You will be required to work under supervision for a period of 6 to 12 months depending on what registration pathway you apply under.

If you have worked outside New Zealand since you were last issued a practicing certificate, you must request a certificate of professional status from each country or board you were registered (or licensed) with during this time. Your certificate of professional status must be sent direct to us from that country or board and must be less than 3 months old at your new New Zealand employment start date.

There are two exceptions to our requirement for a certificate of professional status; where we will alternatively accept a letter of good standing from the person you reported to in the organisation or hospital you worked in.

The exceptions are:

  • if you were working overseas as a volunteer for up to three months and you were not registered for that period.
  • if you were registered while doing voluntary work for up to three months, but the overseas authority is unable to issue a certificate of good standing within a reasonable time period.

Please note: if you have worked overseas as a volunteer for more than three months, you’ll need to have a certificate of professional status.

For more information about Medical Registration visit Medical Council of New Zealand website here.

Find more information about Medical Registration

Our Current Vacancies

We have vacancies throughout New Zealand just waiting to be filled by you. From Kaitaia at the top of the North Island to Invercargill at the bottom of the South Island and everywhere in between, we can find a role in your desired location.

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PO Box 547
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

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Level 2, 88 The Terrace
Wellington Central, Wellington 6011
New Zealand