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Financial capability

Financial capability is highlighted in The New Zealand Curriculum as an example of the type of theme that schools could use for effective cross-curricular teaching and learning programmes.

What is financial capability?

Financial capability is highlighted in The New Zealand Curriculum (p.38, 2007) as an example of the type of theme that schools could use for effective cross-curricular teaching and learning programmes.

Developing financial capability supports ākonga to:

  • participate in economic life
  • gain the knowledge, skills, and competencies to make good money management decisions across a range of financial contexts
  • improve the financial well-being of individuals and society.

In becoming financially capable, students will develop:

  • knowledge and understanding of financial information and processes 
  • personal financial management competencies 
  • recognition and development of their personal values, which make it possible for them to achieve their personal goals
  • an awareness of others' values and priorities, which will enable them to participate meaningfully in the community.

Financial-capability – What-is-financial-capability 

Questions for you in your school

Discuss the way that Terry Shubkin and Pushpa Wood define financial capability in the video.

What does financial capability mean to you?

What financial skills and knowledge do you and your school community want to help your students acquire?

How does financial capability link to the New Zealand Curriculum?


The cross-curricular theme of financial capability supports The New Zealand Curriculum’s vision by providing a learning context for students to become:

  • informed decision makers
  • financially literate and numerate
  • enterprising and entrepreneurial
  • contributors to the well-being of New Zealand.

Supporting students to become responsible, confident, and independent managers of money will enable them to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities.

Community engagement principle

Financial capability lends itself to authentic and motivating contexts for learning and provides opportunities for engaging with parents, whānau, and the wider community. 

Coherence principle

Building financial capability encourages links across learning areas, particularly social sciences, mathematics and statistics, and English. Financial capability is readily developed within authentic contexts for learning. It provides students with life skills as well as opening pathways for further learning.

Future focus principle

The New Zealand Curriculum encourages students to look at significant future focused issues such as citizenship and enterprise.

Building financial capability contributes to exploring the issue of citizenship through identifying how values, such as community participation and manaakitanga, influence personal financial goals and actions.

Financial capability deals with managing finances to attain personal goals while enterprising activities are aimed at generating personal income. Building financial capability enables students to:

  • understand how to manage money, income, and risk
  • set realistic financial goals
  • make sound economic decisions.

These financial capabilities are necessary for students to be able to engage in enterprising activities.


Our values affect the financial decisions we make. Knowing, respecting, and valuing who students are, where they come from, and building on the values they bring with them is essential when building financial capability.

This table provides suggestions for ways in which values can be explored and modelled while developing financial capability.


Explored and modelled through...

  • Taking the opportunity to increase reward by increasing effort.
  • Setting financial goals and achieving them.
Innovation, inquiry, and curiosity

Thinking creatively, critically, and reflectively to:

  • set and achieve personal financial goals
  • analyse and solve financial problems
  • understand and use different financial systems
  • explore different ways of sharing resources, for example, whakakoha and the Tokelauan way.
  • Recognising that different people have different values that affect decisions.
  • Recognising that some people need more support than others with financial planning, for example, people with special learning needs.
  • Understanding how family or cultural obligations affect decisions.
  • Demonstrating fairness in financial transactions.
  • Exploring and understanding reasons for Government transfer or payments, for example, family support, Treaty settlements.
  • Recognising the implications of having more or less money.
  • Considering personal contributions to whānau or community goals.
  • Sharing resources, knowledge, and skills.
  • Working collaboratively when making financial decisions and achieving goals.
  • Understanding the need for charity.
  • Identifying the kinds of financial commitments within communities that whānau/families may make.
Ecological sustainability
  • Considering the environment when making financial decisions.
  • Exploring how the concepts of kaitiakitanga and waahi tapu affect financial decision making. 
  • Appreciating the need for honest transactions and records.
  • Making responsible financial decisions, being accountable, and acting ethically.
  • Recognising responsibilities when borrowing and lending.
  • Investigating aspects of credit worthiness when applying for a loan.
  • Showing respect for themselves and others, including those with different cultural beliefs and values.
  • Discussing and reflecting on different financial goals.

Key competencies

Providing authentic learning contexts to build students’ financial capability enables the development of the key competencies in relevant and meaningful ways.

This table provides suggestions for financial capabilities that support the development of key competencies within a financial context.


Financial capabilities

Managing self
  • Setting goals (setting life goals then developing and carrying out a financial plan to achieve this goal).
  • Delaying gratification by putting off short-term wants to fulfil longer term goals.
  • Planning for the short and long-term, for example budgeting.
  • Applying confidence, persistence, and resilience to inform financial decision making.
  • Taking responsibility for decisions that affect the long-term financial well-being for individuals and groups.
Relating to others
  • Collaborating with others in financial decision making including whānau, family, and extended family contexts.
  • Finding, gathering, and evaluating information from financial experts and elders within the whānau or extended family.
  • Working with people in the commercial world with confidence and assertiveness, for example interacting, questioning, and negotiating with other.
  • Examining the effects of financial decisions on others.
  • Defining what long-term financial security and responsibility means in different cultural contexts (personally and for whānau).
  • Analysing different values and cultural priorities (including those held by Māori and Pasifika).
Participating and contributing
  • Collaborating to carry out a project.
  • Providing feedback on others' decisions.
  • Working with people that have different financial values.
  • Appreciating the importance of social, environmental, and economic sustainability in making financial decisions.
  • Sharing their own resources, for example, time or money, with a marae, fono, charity, community activity, or group.
  • Making financial decisions to help their kura, school, or wider community.
Using language, symbols, and texts
  • Using financial symbols and terminology for own and others' understanding.
  • Calculating and interpreting financial information.
  • Gathering financial information from electronic and other sources.
  • Pursuing personal financial planning through literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Using an inquiry process to solve real life problems through financial planning.
  • Developing long-term thinking including understanding different life stages and their financial implications.
  • Thinking critically to compose relevant financial questions.
  • Identifying and deciding on different financial options.
  • Making sense of financial information and the different motivations, such as values and cultural influences, people may have in their creation.
  • Evaluating financial decisions and their consequences.
  • Investigating how local, national, and global finances can influence individual decisions.

Learning areas

Financial capability can be integrated across all curriculum learning areas. Financial capability supports the development of literacy and numeracy skills.

NZC_Learning areas_Financial capability.

Financial capability and the New Zealand Curriculum


Financial-capability – Financial-capability-and-the-NZ-Curriculum

Questions for you in your school

In this video interview, Robyn Scott states that:

"Financial education is a really important part of The New Zealand Curriculum, because what we’re all about is future proofing young people to equip them with the skills and capability to live in the world that they’re living in now."

Consider this statement in your own school context. 

  • As a school, where are you at now? 
  • How could you get to a place where your school curriculum effectively supports independent financial thinkers?

Teaching and learning approaches

Cross curricular or thematic approach
Financial capability provides an authentic context for linking or integrating learning areas via a broad theme. Key competencies and values can be developed through the learning experiences.

Building students' financial capability works well using an inquiry approach. This approach enables students to ask and find answers to their own questions, make links to contexts which are meaningful and relevant, recognise choices they can make, and the potential consequences. A social inquiry approach to building financial capability considers the impact of financial decision making on the community and wider society. 

Financial learning and enterprise learning can happen simultaneously – one context reinforcing the other. Financial capabilities enhance students' engagement in enterprise learning, and enterprise learning enhances students' engagement in building their financial capability.

Different cultures and families/whānau may have very different values and approaches to financial decision making. An inclusive approach to financial capability involves exploring the diverse values that people have about money. 

Integrating financial capability into the school curriculum


Financial-capability – Integrating-financial-capability-into-the-school-curriculum

Questions for you in your school

What opportunities do you have to integrate financial capability within learning areas at your school?

What teaching and learning approaches could you use? 

How could you involve parents and whānau at your school in learning about financial capabilities?

Published on: 03 Sep 2020