Osteopaths use a variety of techniques to help correct abnormal physical conditions which include back and neck pain, headache, physical injuries to bones, joints and muscles, and many other physical and functional disorders.

A wide variety of treatment techniques are used, which could include manipulation and mobilisation to joints and soft tissues, muscle energy stretches and cranial-sacral therapy. The Osteopath will use appropriate treatment, after fully assessing the patient.

Osteopaths are front line health professionals and work with other registered health professionals including general practitioners, specialists and radiologists to provide the best service to their patients.

Osteopaths are able to treat ACC claims patients without referral from a medical doctor and refer for x-rays and to other health professionals if required.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an osteopath?

Osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners (like GPs and pharmacists).   Primary healthcare covers a broad range of health services in the community – including diagnosis and treatment, health education, and disease prevention and screening.

Osteopaths have a particular interest in evidence-based diagnosis and treatment of the neuro-musculoskeletal system, and in pain management – often (but not always) through manual treatment. Osteopaths work in collaboration with other healthcare providers to ensure patients receive holistic health and well-being advice and treatment. 

How are osteopaths trained?

To qualify as an osteopath, trainees must complete post-graduate education (a minimum of 4 years of training).   The curriculum generally includes:

Building knowledge of musculoskeletal health and osteopathic approaches to healthcare
A deep level of clinical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, and pathology
Critical thinking
Ethical and legal practice
Safe and effective communication
Practising culturally safe osteopathy
Ongoing and increasingly complex application of skills and knowledge in supervised clinical practice.

How do I know if my osteopath is competent?

Osteopaths cannot practise in New Zealand unless they are registered with the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand (OCNZ), and hold a current practising certificate issued by the OCNZ.

The OCNZ is a statutory body which is established under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act).  This law covers the regulation of around 20 different professions.  It includes doctors (who are regulated by the Medical Council) and nurses (who are regulated by the Nursing Council).

To obtain registration with OCNZ, an applicant for registration must meet legal criteria, including demonstrating that they have a qualification recognised by OCNZ.  Once registered (a one-off process), osteopaths must also apply each year for an annual practising certificate.  Again, they are required to meet legal criteria to satisfy the OCNZ that they are competent to practise osteopathy.

You can look up your osteopath on our online register.  If you can’t find the person you are looking for, please let us know so that we can check whether the person is registered.  It is unlawful for a person to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with us.

What if I have concerns about an osteopath?

In our experience, concerns can often be resolved by raising the matter directly with the osteopath.  This is particularly the case if you’re unsure about a treatment the osteopath wants to provide, or why they want to provide it.

If you’re comfortable doing so, we suggest that you raise your concerns with your osteopath in the first instance, and ask them to provide you with more information to see if they can address your concerns.
If you do not feel comfortable talking directly to your osteopath, you might want to email them, or raise a complaint through the practice.
Alternatively, you can:

Contact the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) at www.hdc.org.nz (free phone 0800 11 22 33) to discuss your concerns with its free Advocacy Service, or to make a complaint;

Contact us to make a complaint.  Please note that if you contact us, we are legally required to refer your complaint to the HDC in the first instance.

What is the Osteopathic Council?

The OCNZ is a statutory authority (i.e., an authority that is created by law) that is responsible for ensuring that osteopaths are fit and competent to practise.  Our primary purpose is public protection – we do not represent osteopaths; the representative body for osteopaths is Osteopathy New Zealand.

There are normally 8 Council members on the OCNZ, made up of 6 osteopaths and 2 lay members.  Applications for a position on the OCNZ Council are made to the Ministry of Health, and appointments to Council are made by the Minister of Health.

As well as providing a place for the Osteopathic Council to communicate with our registrants, our website is also an important tool to help us provide information and communicate with the New Zealand public.

If you would like to know more about the Osteopathic Council, please have a look at our ‘About the Council’ page.

We also have a dedicated section of our website for patients and the public. To learn more about osteopathy, to find an osteopath in your area, or if you would like to notify us of concerns you may have about an osteopath, please see our page for ‘Patients