The New Zealand Association of Counsellors ––Te Ropu Kaiwhiriwhiri o Aotearoa was formally established in 1974 under the name the NZ Counselling and Guidance Association. To start with, it was a grouping of people either appointed to secondary schools as guidance counsellors or those involved in their training and employment.
As membership grew, so did the structures to enable the Association to meet the needs of its members. The governing executive was increased by the election of Regional Representatives. The representation was on a geographic basis rather than proportional to membership and remains that way to date.
From a largely voluntary organisation initially NZAC now has a National Office in Hamilton and employs two full time and three part time staff. Members who serve on the National Executive and executive subcommittees or who provide regular services or act to represent the Association formally are reimbursed for their out of pocket expenses and for their time. (the latter is at a nominal rate)
Name changes have also reflected not only the developing philosophy of the Association but the increasing diversity of the contexts in which its members practice. In 1990 the name NZ Association of Counsellors was formally adopted and registered; 1991 saw the addition of the Maori name - Te Ropu Kaiwhirwhiri o Aotearoa- with the permission of the Rev. Kingi Ihaka from the Maori Language Commission.
From a beginning of 42 mostly school-based counsellors NZAC now represents approximately 2500 counsellors who work in education, health ,justice and social welfare government agencies, community based social service agencies, Iwi Social Services, Pacific Island Organisations, private practice and a range of ethnicity specific helping agencies. Their work is underpinned by a rigorous membership application process, a comprehensive code of ethics, a formal complaints procedure and a commitment to supervision to professional development.