Psychiatrist Rata Mate Hinengaro

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental illness and emotional and behavioural disorders by providing psychotherapeutic treatment and psychiatric medication.

Psychiatrists need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

Psychiatrists may do some or all of the following:

  • study patients' medical and psychiatric histories
  • consult with patients and carry out tests to determine treatment
  • provide personalised treatments such as psychological therapy
  • prescribe and monitor medication
  • help patients manage long-term mental health conditions
  • work with patients and their families/whānau to understand patients' likely response to treatment
  • work with other medical staff, such as nurses and psychologists, to co-ordinate and provide assessments, rehabilitation and recovery programmes
  • admit patients to hospital if required
  • mentor trainee psychiatrists
  • prepare psychiatric reports and give evidence in court.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for psychiatrists includes:

  • work in hospitals or other health-related work, such as in a clinic
  • work involving psychology or counselling
  • work in support and advice services such as Lifeline or Citizens Advice Bureau.

Personal Qualities

Psychiatrists need to be:

  • compassionate
  • good at observing, listening and communicating
  • understanding of other cultures' attitudes to medical treatment
  • able to communicate with people from various cultures
  • able to manage their time and work well under pressure
  • skilled at analysing and interpreting information
  • good decision makers and problem solvers.


Psychiatrists need to have knowledge of:

  • how to diagnose psychiatric disorders
  • how the brain and the human body work
  • different diseases and illnesses, both mental and physical
  • medicines and treatments, and the effects these have on patients
  • medical ethics and law
  • new research, treatments and practices in their field.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may also be on call in evenings or weekends
  • usually work in hospitals or clinics
  • may work in emotionally draining and stressful circumstances
  • may travel to attend conferences.

Psychiatrists can earn around $86K-$197K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Psychiatrist are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay varies for psychiatrists depending on experience, hours, location and frequency of on-call or emergency cover.

  • Registrars (trainee psychiatrists) working for Te Whatu Ora (formerly DHBs) usually earn between $86,000 and $197,000 a year.
  • Qualified psychiatrists working for Te Whatu Ora usually earn between $170,000 and $251,000 a year.
  • Psychiatrists working in the private sector can earn more than this.

Sources: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), 'DHB MECA, 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023'; and NZ Resident Doctors' Association, 'RDA and 20 District Health Boards Multi Employer Collective Agreement, 17 March 2021 to 31 March 2024'.

Experienced psychiatrists may become clinical leaders, work as university lecturers, or focus on an area of psychiatry such as:

  • child and adolescent psychiatry
  • psychiatry of older people
  • forensic psychiatry (helping those who have a criminal record and a mental illness)
  • consultation-liaison psychiatry (helping patients with multiple medical conditions, usually working with doctors in general hospitals).

Years Of Training

12 years of training required.

To become a psychiatrist you need to:

  • complete the Health Sciences First Year programme at the University of Otago, or the first year of either the Bachelor of Health Sciences or Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science at Auckland University
  • complete a five-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree at Otago or Auckland
  • work for one to two years as a house officer (supervised junior doctor) in a hospital
  • complete another five years of training through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Fellowship programme. This includes on-the-job training in different specialisations, and passing examinations to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

You also need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

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.