The New Zealand Ministry of Education has announced that free operating system upgrades and additional Apple software will be available to all state and state-integrated schools using Macintosh systems in mid-February.

Murray Brown, manager of information communications technology, curriculum teaching and learning for the Ministry of Education, said: "With more than 20,000 Apple computers currently in use in New Zealand schools these software upgrades will greatly benefit teachers and students throughout the country."

Schools will be bought up-to-date with the latest operating-system updates and other Apple programmes including Keynote and iLife. Access to free operating system upgrades will be extended for the next three years.

"Building the capability of students, educators and institutions is a key education initiative and providing this software to schools should assist with our goal of providing students with skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century," added Brown.