​What is the definition of gifted and talented?

02 August 2015 | August Gifted and Talented Month 2015

What is the definition of gifted and talented?

There is no one universal definition of giftedness and talent and the notion continues to provoke debate. It is now generally accepted that the concept of giftedness and talent is dependent on time and place. It is a socially- constructed concept that means different things to different people according to their social values and cultural context. However, there is general agreement that giftedness is about exceptionality in one or more areas compared to others who are the same chronological age.

The New Zealand Ministry of Education does not designate a single definition of giftedness and talent in policy documents. Ministry documents do support some underlying principles around a New Zealand conceptualisation of giftedness and talent (see Ministry of Education, 2012, p. 22). A New Zealand concept is broad and inclusive. Any definition should be multi-categorical, recognising different domains of giftedness (such as in the cognitive domain, physical, visual and preforming arts, leadership); it should recognise potential as well as performance; show an understanding that giftedness is apparent across all societal groups – the poor, rich, both genders, those with disabilities, all ethnicities; and is in relation to what is valued by a particular culture.

Thus, it is now understood that the concept of giftedness should be expanded beyond academic skills. Margrain, Murphy and Dean (2015) note “A wide-ranging and diverse ‘menu’ of abilities and qualities that reflect the diversity of the multicultural nature of our country is now recognised as contributing to the concept of giftedness” (p.9).

Prepared by members of the Board of giftEDnz, The Professional Association for Gifted Education


Your national professional community in gifted and talented education. Supporting all professionals who work in gifted education in Aotearoa New Zealand.





educational psychologists

teacher educators

professional development providers


postgraduate students

anyone with a professional interest in gifted and talented education


Margrain, V., Murphy, C. & Dean, J. (2015). Giftedness in the early years: Informing, learning and teaching. Wellington: NZCER.

Ministry of Education. (2012). Gifted and talented students. Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools. Retrieved from http://gifted.tki.org.nz/For-schools-and-teachers.


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