Universities are "places of higher learning". A student has to finish secondary education (high school) and gain university entrance grades. to study at a university. People go to universities to gain a Bachelors degree and then perhaps go on to gain higher degrees, the highest being a doctoral degree. People who have gained a degree are called graduates.
Polytechnics focus more on career preparation. It is also for people who have finished secondary education (high school), although you can go into courses often without gaining university entrance degrees and even with NCEA level 2. Polytechnics award diplomas on NCEA levels 5 to 7 and certificates on level 3 and 4. Examples are NorthTec, Unitec, Manukau Institute of Technology and others further away.
Other tertiary education providers
These places usually focus on a specific career area, such as MAINZ (Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand); Whitecliffe, who focuses on all fine arts and also fashion; Serville, a hairdressing and beauty school; NZ Welding School, Auckland Seafood School, QRC in Paihia on Hospitality and Tourism, and many more.
Information about all these universities, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions are available in The Hub and displayed in the Library foyer.
You need NCEA Level 3 with 14 credits in each of 3 Approved Subjects and University Entrance Literacy 10 credits - 5 reading 5 writing
This is a calculation transferring your Merits and Excellences from NCEA level 3 to points which are then counted up. Some university courses expects you to have at least a certain rank score and others use the rank score to select the students who are allowed into a course. If you have a certain rank score you may have a guaranteed place into some courses at certain universities. Use google and search for the Rank score calculator of the University you are interested in going to.