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Life processes



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Learning objectives

Agricultural and horticultural science is an applied science. As such, programmes can integrate concepts and achievement objectives from a range of learning areas including science, technology, social sciences, and mathematics and statistics. Programmes should take account of the particular needs and interests of the students and the particular opportunities that are available in the community.

The New Zealand Curriculum does not specify achievement objectives for agricultural and horticultural science, so learning objectives have been developed to describe the intended outcomes.


The learning objectives for agricultural and horticultural science are structured in four strands that mirror the key concepts.


Primary producers produce for a market

Primary producers use feedback from markets and communities to manage production processes to ensure that their product meets customer requirements.

Primary products are those that 'leave the farm gate' (for example, milk but not cheese, potatoes but not chips, grapes but not wine). Primary production focuses on how these are grown (for example, tomatoes that are field grown rather than hydroponically grown).

Life processes

Producers systematically manage life processes

Primary producers systematically manage the life processes of plants, animals, and micro-organisms to ensure a marketable product.


Production systems must be sustainable

The impact of primary production systems on the environment must be minimised to ensure that they remain viable, protect the environment, and maintain New Zealand’s reputation.

Sustainable management practices allow the production of primary products and the use of resources to meet present needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable management practices achieve this by preventing, limiting, minimising, or correcting environmental damage to water, air, and soil, as well as considering ecosystems and problems related to waste, noise, and visual pollution.

Sustainable management practices are also required in landscaping, to ensure that adverse impacts are minimised, pollution is managed, and the environment is generally enhanced as a result of the development.


Producers must make a profit

Commercial producers produce only products that will return a profit.

New Zealand has the resources to produce a very wide variety of plant and animal products, but commercial producers carefully weigh a full range of factors before they commit to producing a new product.

Students are expected to apply their knowledge to, or in, a planned agricultural and horticultural science situation or activity across all strands as applicable.

Progression in agricultural and horticultural science

As students progress through levels 6–8, they demonstrate their increasing understanding as they:

  • make connections between the strands
  • apply their understandings to different production systems
  • problem solve in increasingly sophisticated ways
  • advocate for sustainable policies and methodologies in primary production.

Learning programmes in agricultural and horticultural science aim to build:

  • (at level 6) the knowledge, practical skills, and experience that underpin economically and environmentally sustainable primary production
  • (at level 7) understanding of the scientific and technological principles used in management practices that ensure economically and environmentally sustainable primary production systems
  • (at level 8) the ability to apply economic considerations and management practices to primary production processes to ensure marketable, environmentally sustainable primary products.


Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with a suggestion of how they might be used with the focus achievement objective.

The listed context elaborations are examples only. Teachers can select and use entirely different contexts in response to local situations, community relevance, and students’ interests and needs.

Assessment for qualifications

Agricultural and horticultural science programmes integrate concepts and learning from achievement objectives in biology, science, economics, geography, and technology. For this reason, learning can be assessed using achievement standards from a range of subjects as well as those from agricultural and horticultural science. For example, landscaping to enhance the sales area of an orchard could equally well be assessed under the following achievement standards:

  • AS90922 Agricultural and horticultural science 1.8 Design a landscape plan that reflects user requirements; Internal, 3 credits.
  • AS91044 Technology 1.1 Undertake brief development to address a need or opportunity; Internal, 4 credits.
  • AS91045 Technology 1.2 Use planning tools to guide the technological development of an outcome to address a brief; Internal, 4 credits.
  • AS91046 Technology 1.3 Use design ideas to produce a conceptual design for an outcome to address a brief; Internal, 6 credits.
  • AS91047 Technology 1.4 Undertake development to make a prototype to address a brief; Internal, 6 credits.

Teachers have considerable scope to select standards that will assess valued learning and engage their students. See the learning objectives and the programme design section of this guide for suggestions.

Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

The NZQA subject-specific resources pages are very helpful. From there, you can find all the achievement standards and links to assessment resources, both internal and external.

Learn more:

Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011, and level 2 for use in 2012, and level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Last updated August 31, 2020