Back to School – Financial Support

It’s a tough time of the year for many whanau with lots of costs getting children back to school with everything they need.

Back to School Assistance 2021


The Salvation Army can support families with uniform grants, vouchers for stationery and vouchers or no interest loans for devices.

Families are encouraged to drop into their local Salvation Army centre to discuss their needs. The Salvation Army has partnered with Warehouse Stationery, which has advanced $30,000 worth of gift cards to support low-income families.


City Mission Christchurch’s Back to School programme offers families assistance with buying things such as uniforms, shoes, stationery and other curricular material.


The fund provides help where death, sickness, family break-up or economic hardship make it difficult for families to meet education costs.

Grants may cover school uniform, shoes, textbooks and stationery. There are special grants to cover the cost of glasses or to help students with special needs.

The fund is administered by local rotary clubs.


Make it Happen helps Christchurch families with school-related costs including uniform, fees, school trips, sports, music and cultural activities. To date they’ve paid out over $96,200 in grants.



The fund works with other helping agencies in the city and can provide assistance on a one-off basis where real need can be shown. The fund is a last resort measure when people have exhausted other appropriate sources such as Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ).



The Mayor’s Welfare Fund is only available for Christchurch City residents.

As every applicant’s circumstances are unique and the criteria for different categories of assistance varies. Applicants need to contact the Mayor’s Welfare Administrator.

The fund has a limited amount of funding categories with which it can assist applicants and criteria on levels of assistance apply.

The Mayor’s Welfare Fund can only assist once in a twelve month period.

School Principals may apply on behalf of students to the Mayor’s Welfare Fund’s Child Enrichment Fund for grants to help students participate in extra-curricular activities they would otherwise miss out on due to exceptional circumstances of severe hardship.

How to apply

For appointments to meet with The Mayor’s Welfare Administrator, contact us.

After making your appointment to see the Mayor’s Welfare Administrator, it is essential that you bring:

  • A form of identification, i.e. Drivers Licence or Community Services Card.
  • (If available) a letter from Work and Income NZ or Study Link stating that assistance is available or unavailable.
  • A current bank statement stating the applicants name (this is used as proof of financial hardship).
  • If in employment a copy of your last two pay slips.
  • Evidence of need i.e. invoice for goods, electricity bill, letter from landlord etc

The Mayor’s Welfare Fund is located at the Civic Offices, 53 Hereford Street.


If your child is between 5 and 15 and you need help with things like uniform, clothing, shoes, bedding, extra-curricular and healthcare costs, you can apply to Variety’s Kiwi Kid Sponsorship scheme.

The scheme connects donors with individual children. Kiwi Kid Sponsorship is a minimum of $336 per year, which is paid directly to suppliers e.g. the school.

To apply, your household income must not be more than $850 per week (after tax) for one child, $950 for two children, $1050 for three or $1140 for four children.


– Stationery and uniform loan

Depending on how much you earn, you might qualify for a loan from Work and Income to cover the cost of stationery and uniform.

You don’t have to be on a benefit to qualify, and you have to pay the money back.

The income threshold is $42,700.30 if you’re a couple, $35,674.08 if you’re a single parent of one child and $37,584.56 if you’re a single parent of two or more children.

How much you get depends on your situation. The money will be loaded onto a payment card – like an EFTPOS card – to be used at stationery and uniform suppliers.

– School and year start-up payment

If you’re caring for someone else’s child and already receive unsupported child’s benefit or orphan’s benefit, you can get extra help with back-to-school costs.

You don’t have to show quotes or receipts to get the payment, but it’s expected the money will go towards school-related costs. You won’t be taxed on this money and you won’t have to pay it back.

You can apply between mid-January and the end of February, and how much you get will depend on the age of the child at the end of February – from $400 for under-4s to $550 for over-15s.

– Other loans

If you are on a benefit, you may be able to apply for an advance on your benefit to help with the cost of school fees and activities.

If you’re not on a benefit, a loan in the form of a recoverable assistance payment may be an option.


Many schools offer hardship grants to help out with back-to-school costs. Contact your school to see if they can help.


While some principals say parental donations are vital to the running of the school, by law they are voluntary.

If you have paid your school’s donation, you can get a tax rebate for a third of the cost.