Massage Therapist Kaihaumanu Mirimiri

Massage therapists manipulate the soft tissue of people's bodies to treat health problems and to help people relax.

Massage therapists are recommended to register with Massage New Zealand.

Massage therapists may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss clients' problems and make physical assessments
  • massage and knead muscles and soft tissue
  • advise on exercise, relaxation and stretching techniques, and lifestyle needs.

Physical Requirements

Massage therapists need to have strong hands and arms, and a good level of fitness and health as their work requires a great deal of stamina and concentration.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for massage therapists includes:

  • physiotherapy
  • nursing or natural healing experience
  • any kind of physical training (such as yoga or dance).

Personal Qualities

Massage therapists need to be:

  • caring and sensitive
  • professional
  • good listeners and communicators to help them accurately assess a patient's problems.

Massage therapists also need to be able to work with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.


Massage therapists need to have knowledge of:

  • anatomy, musculoskeletal structure, and how the body functions
  • massage techniques and equipment
  • medical terms.

Self-employed massage therapists need business skills.


Massage therapists:

  • often work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends
  • usually work from home or a natural health centre
  • may travel locally to clients' homes and businesses to work.

Massage therapists may move into teaching and research roles, a related area of natural therapy, or establish their own practices.

Massage therapists may specialise in a particular massage style such as:

  • ayurvedic massage
  • haumiri (Māori massage)
  • reflexology
  • Swedish massage
  • shiatsu
  • sports therapy massage
  • stone massage.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a massage therapist.

However, Massage New Zealand recommends minimum requirements of:

  • a certificate in therapeutic massage from an approved provider
  • a first aid certificate.

There are two degrees available in massage therapy:

  • New Zealand College of Massage – Bachelor of Health Studies (Massage and Neuromuscular therapy)
  • Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) – Bachelor of Therapeutic and Sports Massage.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children. 

Massage Therapist