The Council of Social Work Education in Aotearoa New Zealand

A brief history


  • Barbara Staniforth Waipapa Taumata Rau-University of Auckland
  • Sonya Hunt Waipapa Taumata Rau-University of Auckland
  • Suzette Jackson Waipapa Taumata Rau-University of Auckland



social worker registration, course accreditation, bicultural responsibilities, social work education


INTRODUCTION: Despite tertiary social work education commencing in Aotearoa New Zealand by 1950, it was not until the mid-1990s that social work educators established a unifying body (the Council). The Council aimed to promote teaching and research in social work within Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations, and enhance relationships and collaboration within the sector.

METHODS: A qualitative, critical realist research methodology has been utilised, analysing interviews with eight people who have served as president of the Council or chair of the field education sub-committee since the Council’s inception. Data were augmented with Council archives, including minutes and reports.

FINDINGS: Themes of registration, relationships, resourcing and bicultural commitments were identified. These provide an overview of key issues that have impacted on social work education in Aotearoa over the past 25 years and record the rich stories of some of the key people involved.

CONCLUSIONS: Social work educators established a forum to unify their voices and enhance standards in social work education. Ongoing professionalisation and developing regulation of social workers became a Council focus. Future challenges for the Council include ensuring its viability and operation, responding to bicultural responsibilities and strengthening the voice of social work educators in a state-regulated environment.

Author Biographies

Barbara Staniforth, Waipapa Taumata Rau-University of Auckland

Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean Academic, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Sonya Hunt, Waipapa Taumata Rau-University of Auckland

PhD Social Work, University of Auckland

Suzette Jackson, Waipapa Taumata Rau-University of Auckland

MSW University of Auckland


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How to Cite

Staniforth, B., Hunt, S., & Jackson, S. (2022). The Council of Social Work Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: A brief history. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(1), 6–21.



Original Articles