About us

We have 22 centres nationwide. Get in touch to discuss how we can help your business.

Our story

A growing need for English support

In the 1970s, a large number of non-English speaking people came to live in New Zealand. Many of them were from Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands.

Some immigrants needed help learning English for daily life. Many women with young children could not attend classes, so volunteer tutors gave them lessons at home.

ESOL home tutoring started independently in different towns and cities. In 1992, the National Association of ESOL Home Tutor Schemes (Inc.) was formed. In 2009, the organisation was renamed as English Language Partners New Zealand.

In 2012, English Language Partners celebrated 20 years as a national organisation.
At a Special General Meeting in September 2014, English Language Partners voted to amalgamate into one legal entity (from 23 distinct legal entities). This amalgamation enables the organisation to achieve increased efficiency and ensures that a consistently high level of service continues to be delivered to learners throughout the country.

Inspiration behind our logo

“Kotahi te kohao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro pango, te miro whero. I muri, kia mau ki te aroha, ki te ture, ki te whakapono.”
“Through the eye of the needle pass the white threads, the black threads, and the red threads. Afterwards, looking to the past as you progress, hold firmly to your love, the law, and your faith.”

This whakatauki was gifted by the late Tamehana Tai Rakena of Tainui to individual leaders in the disability, and then wider community sector to support us in our work. It originated with Potatau Te Wherowhero, the first Maori King, who, at the birth of the Kingitanga movement, spoke of strength and beauty through both unity and diversity, by alluding to the beauty and the strength of the woven tukutuku. Individual threads are weak, but the process of weaving makes a strong fabric. Individual colours tell no story, but woven together they become beautiful, and can tell a story.

Vision, purpose, values

Our vision

Former refugees and migrants settle well and succeed in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our vision is a cohesive society where our learners can settle well and achieve their goals. This includes feeling safe, a sense of belonging and being able to participate in and contribute to all aspects of life (social, economic, cultural and political).

Our purpose

We help people learn English to settle, work and succeed.

We teach English to people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, providing excellent English language education in context for everyday life and work.

Our values

Diversity: we are welcoming

Aotearoa New Zealand has become a very diverse country, with people from all cultures settling here, enriching our lives, neighbourhoods and communities. Everyone is equally welcome.

Respect: we care, listen and respond

We have many ways to show respect. In many cultures, it is customary to remove one’s shoes before entering a home. Doing so, regardless of one’s own culture and preferences, is a sign of respect. The world runs better
with respect.

Partnership: we work together for success

Working in partnership allows people to co-operate. By talking through ideas, and working side by side, we can achieve much more together than alone. Whether we work together as a couple, a group or a whole society, using language well is the key to our success. Let’s talk about working together.

Excellence: we value our work and aim high

At English Language Partners, we want to be the best in the world at what we do, which means setting ambitious goals and reaching them. Being a Kiwi means achieving triumphs.

Guiding principles

  • Learners from refugee and migrant backgrounds are the centre of everything we do.

  • We respond to learners’ needs and aspirations to use English confidently to settle into our community.

  • We support learners’ voices to be heard, both within English Language Partners and in the wider community.

  • We provide quality and relevant learning opportunities.

  • We value the contribution of volunteers and staff.

  • We respect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in how we work.

  • We base our policies on the values expressed in these documents:
    - UNHCR Convention (1951) and Protocol (1967) relating to the status of refugees
    - Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (1971)
    - Universal Declaration on Volunteering (1990).

  • We are alert to the changing needs of the community, and respond in a viable and sustainable way as relevant for learners.

  • We continually strive for improvement and innovation in everything we do.


Quick facts 2022

  • 6,665 learners

  • 4,695 female, 1,969 male, 1 gender diverse

  • 1,267 refugee-background or asylum seeker learners

  • 838 volunteers tutored a refugee-background or migrant learner in their home or/and assisted a class teacher

  • 334 new volunteers trained as tutors.

The largest learner ethnic group was Asian, followed by South American (including Mexican and Central American), Middle Eastern, European, Pacific Islander, then African.

Strategic plan

Click on the image below to view our strategic plan

Outcomes model

Click on the image below to view our outcomes model

Responsibilities framework

Click on the image below to view our outcomes model

Pastoral care

The Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 supports the wellbeing of tertiary and international learners enrolled with New Zealand education providers.  

It sets out the requirements that education providers must meet for the wellbeing and safety of their learners.  

Under the Education Code of Practice, ELP:

  • carries out an annual self-review of how well we meet the Code outcomes and processes

  • documents the self-review

  • makes the self-review report available, in an accessible format, to our learners, staff and the general public

  • attests annually to NZQA that we have undertaken this self-review

National board

Karun Shenoy



I was born in India and migrated to New Zealand in 1998, having spent a couple of years in Singapore en route. My career has been in IT, and has included managing major technology programmes, right through to founding a tech start-up.

For over 20 years, I’ve operated my own consulting company, providing project management services and business transformation consultancy. I am on the board of Angel HQ and have sat on advisory boards for start-ups.

I’ve volunteered for ELPNZ’s Job Mentoring Service for several years, mentored small businesses through the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and assisted students enrolled in the IT Professionals TechHub programme.

I’m fluent in English, Hindi, Konkani, and Tamil, with basic skills in several other Indian languages.

My interests include trekking (including Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kinabalu), cycling, skiing, travel, and the performing arts.

I have a Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) and a Master of Business Administration.

Jane von Dadelszen


Deputy Chair

I work as a consultant for government agencies and educational organisations in New Zealand and internationally. Until 2015, I was Deputy Chief Executive, Quality Assurance, at NZQA, responsible for regulating the quality of tertiary and vocational education and the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. Prior to that, I led tertiary education policy at the Ministry of Education.

My government experience includes senior management, policy advice and research on gender, crime and justice, family violence, child protection, alcohol and drugs, climate change and natural resource management.

I volunteer as a mentor for the First Foundation, for the Women in National Security project and provide strategy advice to Zealandia wildlife sanctuary.

I’m a board member of the Primary ITO and sit on the Hong Kong Council for the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications.

I enjoy gardening, travel, tramping, reading, movies, conversation and ideas.

I have a Master of Psychology.

Kara Scally-Irvine


I work as a consultant in research, monitoring frameworks and evaluation, and my work regularly extends into strategy, policy and planning.

I cover a range of sectors including sport and recreation, health, education, land and property information, and regulatory systems in not-for-profits and government agencies in New Zealand and internationally.

I’m a member of the Australian Evaluation Society New Zealand regional committee, and recently became the New Zealand Regional Convenor, representing New Zealand members with the Australian regional branches.

I am familiar with ELPNZ’s volunteer programme through my work as a refugee resettlement volunteer, and I’ve been a passionate side-line supporter of their work ever since. I’ve supported development of ELPNZ’s Outcomes Model and Evaluative Self-Assessment system and have been a national board member since 2015.

When I’m not tied-up with my work and voluntary commitments, my husband and I spend quality time with our two children. I also love trail running and getting out in our beautiful environment or sitting down doing absolutely nothing.

I have a PhD in International Development and Conservation, living and working in Cambodia for a period of time. Prior to this, I lived in Japan, teaching English.

I also have a Bachelor of Commerce and Science, and a Post-graduate Diploma of Environmental Science.

Mark Bryan


I have travelled extensively around the world and moved to New Zealand from the UK in 1995,finally settling in Southland in 1997. I developed a strong governance capability following a career as a veterinarian, growing our business from a six-vet local practice to an international veterinary company employing over 200 staff. Our business attracts significant immigrants: over half our employees are migrants, from around 15 countries.

For over 15 years I have been on the boards of not-for-profits and commercial organisations. I play an active role on the board of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. I am a member of the Institute of Directors and have completed their company directors’ and finance courses.

My wife, children and I live on a large sheep farm, which we farm with the help of our manager. I am also a keen skier, mountaineer, mountain biker and surfer.

I have a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, a Master of Veterinary Studies (Hons) and a MACVSc(Epidemiology).

Li Ling Ho


I was born in Singapore and migrated to New Zealand when I was six. I returned to Singapore for a few high school years, moving to Wellington on my return to New Zealand. I have empathy and respect for the work of the migrant sector and believe culture, languages, social connections, lifelong learning and educational opportunities are extremely important.

I have skills and experience in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, including establishing and managing New Zealand’s first food rescue organisation, building an interaction-based language school and performance planning and analysis in the disability sector. I have worked as finance manager, supporting a social service and community development organisation. I have been on ELPNZ’s national board since 2020.

Outside of work, family and voluntary commitments, I am involved in anything creative and design-related and enjoy contemporary and K-Pop dance. I also enjoy nature, business, learning new things, and am a foodie.

I have a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration (Accounting, Commercial Law and Information Systems),and am a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Susan Warren


I’m Chief Executive of COMET Auckland; an organisation driving systems changes to make education and skills development more equitable. I’m a member of the Institute of Directors, with a long career in leadership roles across not-for-profit, government and corporate organisations.

Through COMET Auckland I have connections in Tāmaki Makaurau and beyond: in local and national government, education, employers and community organisations.

Formerly, I worked in schooling improvement in south Auckland and nationally with the Ministry of Education. In my current role, I maintain strong links with Māori and Pasifika communities. I lead the Auckland Languages Strategy Working Group.

I’m passionate about how lifelong learning empowers people to reach their own aspirations and contributes to the wellbeing of themselves and their families. I acknowledge Te Tiriti o Waitangi as our nation’s founding document, and practise and support a bicultural Aotearoa as a foundation for celebrating our multicultural and super-diverse community.

I appreciate the wisdom and connections ELPNZ’s board members bring and enjoy using my own governance and leadership experience to support organisations that are making a difference in Aotearoa.

I have a Diploma in Secondary Teaching, a Bachelor (Hons) in Biochemistry and Physiology, and a Master of Education.

Robert Lay


I was originally from Cambodia and I came to New Zealand in 2000 to pursue my tertiary education. After completing my studies, I fell in love with the cultural richness, the people and the livelihood of New Zealand. I decided to call this place my new home.

My work experience has been in Banking and Finance ranging across many different roles, with the most recent role in Corporate and Institutional banking department for Bank of China (New Zealand) Limited. In between my banking career, I spent two years working in Cambodia in a family business, a leading manufacturer and exporter to over 20 countries globally. I have an MBA qualification in Finance, Honours Degree in Economics and a Bachelor Degree in Finance.

I am a father of two children, Theodore (4 years old) and Eleanore (2 years old). My passions include health and fitness, personal development and growth (a life-long dedicated learner), culture and diversity.

Sherrie Lee


I am a public sector professional with a career portfolio that spans human development, policy implementation and stakeholder engagement. I have worked as a career development consultant for new migrants, held policy advisory and contract management roles at the Tertiary Education Commission, and was the Business Development Manager for regional organisations at Education New Zealand. I am currently a Principal Advisor at the Ministry of Education supporting the education workforce.

I am also a migrant with a Southeast Asian Chinese heritage who loves to write and connect with others whose lives and work resonate with my aspirations and experiences. The process of feeling and believing you belong in a new country can be challenging, and also depends on the reciprocal efforts of others. I’m still on that journey but want to share it with others.

I majored in English literature and sociolinguistics in my undergraduate study, and traversed a path of writing and communications related jobs before taking up a lecturer role in business communications. In 2013, I completed a Master of Arts in Teaching, specialising in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) which inspired me to consider a career in international education. I moved from Singapore with my young family to New Zealand in late 2014 to study for a PhD at the University of Waikato in Hamilton. My research was about understanding how international students engaged their peers for support for their academic learning. While I initially aspired to be an academic, the limited opportunities at that time led me to consider policy jobs. I moved to Wellington in mid-2019 for work and now consider the capital my home.

David Bromell


For much of my career I’ve worked in tertiary education, church ministry, psychotherapy and clinical supervision, as well as in NGO governance and management.

More recently, my working life has been as a policy advisor in central and local government, and a part-time researcher and lecturer in public policy. I am a Senior Associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies in the School of Government at Victoria University, and an Adjunct Senior Fellow in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Canterbury.

Following a research fellowship in Germany in2021, I ‘retired’, allowing me more time for research and writing, music, art, tramping, and for voluntary work with ELPNZ.

I’ve been involved with ELPNZ since 2010, as an ESOL home tutor and as a national board member since 2015. English opens doors for new migrants and former refugees to settle quickly and well, participate, contribute and prosper.

I have a PhD, a Bachelor (Hons) in Theology and a Master of History.

Rachel O'Connor


Chief Executive

Ko Rachel O’Connor tōku ingoa, Nō Te Puke ahau, e mahi ana au hei te kaiwhakahaere matua ki English Language Partners New Zealand.

I’ve worked in the refugee and migrant sector for the past fifteen years, starting with coordinating refugee resettlement in Hamilton in 2007 for eight years. I’m passionate about ensuring people new to Aotearoa New Zealand are welcomed well and are supported in achieving their hopes and aspirations of their news lives here. I hate flying but love experiencing other cultures and countries so I’m delighted to be in a role where I get to meet people from all over the world without having to board a plane!

I have a Masters of Migration Studies focused on integration and belonging, including a specific focus on labour market integration. I’ve previously worked at New Zealand Red Cross as General Manager of Migration, overseeing the community settlement programme for quota refugees as well as employment and mental health services for former refugees and asylum seekers. Most recently I was the lead advisor to the Race Relations Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission.

I live in Wellington which is where I’ve spent most of my life, and love to frequent the cafes, bookstores and beaches.

Ruth Payne


I have held general management roles in large NZ organisations, with responsibilities across HR, Planning & Performance, Communications and other corporate functions. I have also led a range of change initiatives, including major restructuring programmes and innovation processes. I apply my wide-ranging experience of corporate management, strategy and organisation development in my work as an independent contractor and in governance roles.

I hold Masters degrees in History and Management and have a post-graduate diploma in Creative Writing. I am a Fellow of HRINZ and a Member of the Institute of Directors.

I’m also a keen tennis player and sea swimmer.

Ethnic advisory group

Ethnic Advisory Group (EAG) members are Kiwis from non-English speaking countries. A member sits on the National Board, and a Board representative is co-opted onto the EAG.  The EAG informs the Chief Executive and Board on former refugee and migrant issues. The EAG was established in 2002.  Read a brief history of the EAG.

Bhoj Raj Subba

Hi! I am Bhoj R. Subba from a Gross National Happiness country – Bhutan. I worked in Bhutan, Nepal, and India as a computer teacher and IT consultant for many years.  I came to New Zealand in 2016 and I love New Zealand. I am a workaholic with full dedication. Currently, I am working with English Language Partners Nelson as a Cultural and Language Assistant and in Nelson Boys’ College as a bilingual teacher. I can speak, read, and write four languages – English, Nepali, Hindi, and Tibetian (Dzongkha) and also some of the computer programming languages. I like to sing, play music (guitar and violin) and do paintings. I feel fortunate to be one of the members of the Ethnic Advisory Group.

Joanne Lee

I am a coordinator at the ELP North Shore centre. I have a broad range of work experience in global companies, including various coordination roles. Before migrating to New Zealand, I lived in Seoul, South Korea.

Joanne (Aijuan) Song

Ever since I came to Hawkes Bay from China in 2017 due to family circumstances and got to know ELP, I have benefitted enormously from this organisation in my region in Napier. All the beautiful people I have met there have encouraged me, guided me and supported me to explore a new journey in a new country.  This has been helping me start my first job as a worker in a home care centre, my second job as a Mandarin teacher in a local high school and my current job as an administrator in HBDHB (Hawkes Bay District Health Board). Hopefully I can give my contribution back to this nourishing and inclusive organisation at my best.

Ku Reh Nga

Mingalaba, I am Ku Reh Nga from the Kayah State in Myanmar and I live in Porirua with my wife and some of my children.  I have five children and four grandchildren.  I came to New Zealand via a Thailand refugee camp where the United Nations trained me to be a teacher of my mother language and I taught in both the camp and neighbouring villages for about 20 years.  Since arriving in New Zealand, I have worked for English Language Partners Porirua as a Cultural and Language Assistant and I am a member, formally a leader, of the United Democratic Burmese Community (NZ) Incorporated.

Laura Moreno

I’m a Colombian lawyer and I came to study a  masters in New Zealand, but being a volunteer at ELP has being one of the most rewarding  personal adventures in my life. This is an amazing journey of shared experiences of determination, collective work and resilience.

Mohammad Hilal

Formerly a teacher, I am a self-motivated and driven learner who has recently made a career switch into tech via a Master of Software Development at Victoria University of Wellington.

I am a self-motivated person who is willing to take on responsibility to deliver key outcomes. I particularly like to volunteer my time into projects that support teaching, learning, and skill-sharing.

Ngozi Penson

I have lived in New Zealand for many years and in that time developed a keen interest in community engagement and civic participation. My background includes small business start-up and management, volunteering and working in the non-for-profit sector, adult education, coaching and training. I sit on non-for-profit boards and public sector advisory groups.

Rehab Mohamed

I am Egyptian, wife to a geneticist and mum to 2 children. I came to New Zealand in July 2017 and I lived in Denmark for six years before coming here. After graduating from an agricultural faculty, I worked as an administrator.

National structure

Organisational structure