Presbyterians in New Zealand have displayed their Church's traditional concern for education. In the seventies of last century they gave strong support to the establishment of a National System of Public Education, though the exclusion of religious teaching from public schools has had three reactions among Presbyterians – the establishment under Presbyterian auspices of several schools; support of Bible-in-Schools Leagues in their efforts to have the Bible restored to the curriculum of the schools; and support of the New Zealand Council for Christian Education in its efforts to use existing facilities under the Nelson system of voluntary religious instruction, first developed in 1897 in the province of Nelson on the initiative of a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. J. H. McKenzie.
Presbyterians in Otago played a significant part in the founding of the University of Otago (1870), the first University in New Zealand, and in the establishment of residential halls for university students.
In its own work of Christian education the Presbyterian Church has sought to develop its Sunday school and Bible class work on sound educational lines and has endeavoured to learn from the experience of churches overseas. Inspired by the Christian youth movements of the latter part of the nineteenth century, the New Zealand Presbyterian Bible Class Movement, mainly led by lay people, has made a distinctive contribution to Christian work among young people, both in New Zealand and in Australia.