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


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:   Audrey Campbell - Audrey.Campbell@op.ac.nz or

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

Block Courses

You will attend one on-campus block course during your enrolment. 

There is only a Dunedin venue for block course, but we may consider other venues if numbers are high enough. 
  • Full time learners block course:  Week of 29th July 2024
  • Part time learners:  Block course in 2025

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. Generally, this is completed between March and November of the enrolment year. Part-time learners of course can take longer to complete this.  You will need to get experience with cats and dogs, and either rabbits or birds.

At least of the 80 hours must be in a veterinary clinic setting, you should first sort placement in an animal facility such as an SPCA boarding facility pet shop to complete the first half of the programme.  Once you have the required safety training you will 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 Animal Health 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.


There is no compulsory text book for this programme but we highly recommend that you purchase this book:

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

Second-hand Uniforms and Books 

We have set up two buy/sell/swap Facebook pages to buy and sell used uniform items, textbooks and the like.

Click here for the Otago Polytechnic page

Click here for the Te Pūkenga page

Please note, we will be reverting back to the use of Otago Polytechnic branded uniforms, but we will still accept the use of any Te Pūkenga branded uniforms in the meantime.


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