Haere mai! Welcome to the information page for the

New Zealand Certificate in Animal Healthcare Assisting

- Companion Animal Strand


This page holds all of the information and the next steps that you need to take prior to the start of your programme. We have also provided you with some additional information which we would suggest you take the time to familarise yourself with.  

Prior to the start of the programme, you should familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities for students as laid out on the Otago Polytechnic website

Supporting Information

Click here to access and fill in the supporting information form.  This information is required to be completed prior to the start date of the programme. The information gathered here will enable us to provide you with individual support.

Learning Advisors

A Learning Advisor is your primary academic support person through your study. Your Learning Advisor can be contacted on (free phone) 0800 762 786 or by email (see below). 

Part-time students contact:   Deborah Murphy - Deborah.Murphy@op.ac.nz or

Full-time students contact:  Barbara Dunn - Barbara.Dunn@op.ac.nz

Block Courses

You will attend two on-campus block courses throughout your enrolment. These will run for three days each. Part-Time and Semester Two learners will attend one in 2023 and another in 2024.  

Part-Time Learners

You will be able to select a venue near you for Block Course One (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, or Dunedin). You will be notified of the dates.

Semester Two Learners

There is only a Dunedin venue for block courses, but we may consider other venues if numbers are high enough. 

  • Block course one: Week of 28 August 2023
  • Block course two: Week of 19 February 2024

Work Placement

As you were notified when you enrolled, this programme requires you to compete 240 hours of supervised work experience at animal facilities. This is equivalent to around one day per week for full-time learners. 80 hours of this must be in a veterinary clinic setting, the other 160 hours can be completed at other animal facilities. You will need to get experience with cats and dogs, and either rabbits or birds.  Generally, this is completed between March and November of the enrolment year. Part-time learners of course can take longer to complete this.  

Our suggestion is that you source a placement in an animal facility and then complete the remaining hours in a veterinary clinic later in the year. Bear in mind that other providers are also sending students to places in the main centres and some places have many volunteers. For your clinical placement you may need to wait for a place to become available or be flexible and travel outside your local area. Dunedin students in particular should expect to have to complete clinical placement outside of Dunedin. 

If you need support finding a suitable placement, please contact the School of Veterinary Nursing by emailing Katie.Prasad@op.ac.nz - Katie is our work placement co-ordinator.

Branded Clothing

You will need to purchase the following uniform for your work placement. 

  • Scrub top 
  • Tunic top, polo shirt or second scrub top
  • Name badge
  • In addition, you must provide
    • Closed in non-slip footwear
    • Comfortable black pants or appropriate length shorts
  • Recommended
    • Polypropylene top to wear underneath your uniform on cold days

Click this link for uniform pricelist. These can be purchased from Challenge MarketingClick on this link to order and pay for your items.  Note: you will need to create an account first and wait for verification from Challenge Marketing before placing your order.


Order your compulsory textbook from the below link:

Compulsory textbook is: Animal Biology and Care (Author: Dallas, Sue ISBN: 9781118276068)

Second-hand Uniforms and Books 

We have set up a Te Pukenga AHCVN buy/sell/swap page to buy and sell used polo tops, textbooks, overalls, scrubs and alike. Please note, Otago Polytechnic branding will be changing to the Te Pūkenga logo, but we will still accept any Otago Polytechnic branded uniforms for current programmes in 2023.

Live Class Sessions

We will be running regular live sessions weekly throughout your programme.  These sessions cover the weekly topic you are studying and is a chance to discuss any questions and upcoming assessments. They are a valuable link between your learning, contact with your class, and with learning advisors.  The live sessions are compulsory, so we will run these a couple of times a week so that you can attend one. If you have commitments and cannot attend, please let your learning advisor know and you may be directed to attend at an alternative time. 

The dates and times and a link to the live session/s will be emailed to you prior to the programme start date.

Student Support Services

For access to Student Support Services Student Success Team, Learning Advice, Career Services, Maori/Kaitautoko, Pasifika, Disability, Counselling, Chaplain, International, Justice of the Peace, IT Support)

Click here