Fossicking round in some old legislation yesterday, I stumbled on the Music Teachers Act.  I’d assumed this was one of those pieces of legislation that might have gone the way of Raspberry Marketing Regulations 1979, that governed the New Zealand Raspberry Marketing Council until 1999.

But no, the Music Teachers Act is still on the statute books.  It is

An Act to consolidate and amend the Music Teachers Registration Act 1928, and to make better provision for the registration and control of music teachers and the advancement of music teaching.

The prime function of the Act is to establish and govern The Institute of Registered Music Teachers of New Zealand, again with the statutory purpose of

Purposes of institute

  • The purposes of the institute shall be––

    • (a) to promote the general advancement of music teaching, and the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge and skills connected with music teaching:

    • (b) to protect the interests of music teachers in New Zealand:

    • (c) to protect and promote the interests of the public in relation to music teaching:

    • (d) to hold conferences on music teaching and related subjects:

    • (e) to publish a year book, giving an account of the proceedings of the institute, the names of persons currently registered under this Act, and such other matters as may be of interest to members of the institute:

    • (f) to grant prizes, scholarships, and financial or other assistance to any person or organisation that may further the aims of the institute:

    • (g) to administer the fund known as the Helen Macgregor Tizard Benevolent Fund, previously administered by the Music Teachers Registration Board of New Zealand.

Some of these might be worthy enough objectives in some lights, but where is the public policy interest?  And especially in protecting “the interests of music teachers in New Zealand”.  Consumers’ or customers’ interests perhaps, but legislation to protect the interests of music teachers.

The Institute seems to have no powers over anyone, and appears to do some worthy stuff.  But why does it need a statute to make such a body function effectively?  If it offers good courses, or even certification, surely it can do that on its own merits?   The New Zealand Association of Economists, for example, has no statutory backing.

I asked my children’s piano teacher yesterday what he knew of the Act, or the Institute.  He is a smart young guy, who is active in music teaching programmes in schools and privately.  And he had never come across the body.

So perhaps the Act does both little harm and little good. In other words, it is largely irrelevant.  Those of us hiring music teachers presumably do so mostly the old-fashioned way –  by repute, and word of mouth.  And we keep them on if we judge that they are helping our children learn.

For decades, governments have been reluctant to tackle occupational licensing (which is nowhere near as pervasive here as in the United States). But for a third term government with a light legislative agenda, perhaps this is one bit of ever-burgeoning statute books that can quietly be repealed.

(Right after they secure the freedom to fly remote-controlled toy helicopters in the local park.)

One thought on “Why?

  1. Good questions. How many occupational acts are there comparable to this? One I find interesting is the Registered Psychologists Act
    The New Zealand Psychologists Board is the regulatory authority appointed under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 in respect of the profession of psychology. The principal purpose of the Act is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that health practitioners are competent and fit to practise their profession.
    But what is the evidence that “charlatans” are a danger to members of the public. Also there are many flavours of psychologist, who know which ones are “better”?


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