About us

We are a not-for-profit and we teach English to migrants and people with a refugee background at 21 language centres around Aotearoa New Zealand and online.

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.

Strategic plan

Click on the image below to view our strategic plan for 2022 - 2024

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

Teaching and learning strategy

Our teaching and learning strategy describes how we maintain our teaching and learning quality standards.  The strategy helps us to maintain consistency across all the programmes we teach.

We reviewed our strategy in 2023 to align it with the Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice and to reflect changes in our own teaching and learning practice.

National board

Karun Shenoy



I was born in India and migrated to New Zealand in 1988, 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 25 years, I’ve operated my own consulting practice in Wellington, providing project management services and digital transformation consultancy. I am currently the President of Wellington Chamber of Commerce, an independent director on the board of Copyright Licensing NZ and a board member of AngelHQ.

I’ve volunteered for ELPNZ’s Job Mentoring Service for several years, mentored small businesses, 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 recreational interests include tramping, cycling, skiing, travel, and the performing arts.

My educational qualifications include a Bachelor of Technology (Computer Science) and a Master of Business Administration degree, and I am a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors.

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.

Jigs Bellosillo


I am originally from the Philippines having migrated to New Zealand about 13 years ago. I’m now based in Auckland. Despite knowing English when I arrived in New Zealand, I struggled to understand New Zealand-accented English, so I understand the importance of learning another language including the dialect and colloquialisms. I also understand how it feels to re-establish oneself and family in a new country and to eventually consider it home.

I am a director at PwC's audit and assurance Practice and a Certified Public Accountant. I have a strong background in finance, audit and risk. As an auditor and director of PwC, I have significant experience reporting as the external auditor to Boards of large and small corporates, as well as closely working with chairs of audit committees of my clients.

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).

Rachel Baxter


I am the General Manager, People and Kōrako, at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), an organisation with people employed in 41 different countries. I lead a team that guides and supports all culture and people-related activities across the world. The team helps attract talented individuals and provide care, knowledge, and resources so the NZTE people can grow companies, grow New Zealand, and grow themselves. The team is also responsible for overseeing the implementation of NZTE’s organisation improvement programme, Kōrako. In my time at NZTE, I also led strategy and customer teams. Before joining NZTE, I worked in management consulting, government policy and Ministerial advisory roles. I hold an honours degree in applied economics from Massey University and a Master of Public Policy from Victoria University. I am also a volunteer tutor in my spare time.

Ruth Payne


I have held general management roles in large New Zealand organisations, with responsibilities across HR, planning and 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 a master’s 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.

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.

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.

Ethnic advisory group

Our Ethnic Advisory Group (EAG) plays a vital role in shaping our programmes and services.  Members of the group are appointed by the Board of Trustees and volunteer their time.

The role of the Ethnic Advisory Group is to
- Help English Language Partners stay focused on learners’ needs
- Give expert advice on issues affecting their communities

Read the terms of reference for the Ethnic Advisory Group.

Bishnu Pokhrel

Appointed July 2023

Bishnu is a social worker at Te Whatu Ora, Ōtautahi Christchurch.  He specialises in mental health support for migrants and people with a refugee background.

Bishnu is originally from Nepal and arrived in New Zealand in 2006 as a refugee.  His wide professional experience includes being a school principal in Nepal and working in a range of mental health roles in Christchurch supporting refugee background communities. He speaks Nepali, Hindi and English.  

“I am proud to be based in Christchurch, known as the garden city, and I am honoured to be a member of the Ethnic Advisory Group in English Language Partners. I am excited about the opportunity to collaborate with all of you and contribute to our shared goals.”

Laura V. Moreno-Duran

Appointed August 2020

Laura is currently studying for her PhD in Human Geography looking at the migratory legal status of Latin American Immigrants in New Zealand at Victoria University of Wellington. She also lived in Christchurch while completing a Master's in Policy and Governance at Canterbury University. 

Laura is from Colombia where she was a lawyer mainly working in criminal law.  She is currently based in Wellington. 

“Being a volunteer at ELP has been one of the most rewarding personal adventures in my life. This is an amazing journey of shared experiences of determination, collective work and resilience.”

Ngozi Penson

Appointed August 2020

Ngozi is the co founder of the MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) Advisory Group.  MELAA advises stakeholders in private or publicly funded organisations that want to engage with these diverse communities.   Ngozi is also involved in a wide range of other governance roles in adult education and volunteer management.  

Ngozi was born and raised in Nigeria and moved to New Zealand in 1988.  She has also lived in Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Australia.

Ngozi is based in Auckland.

"The opportunity to serve others alongside many from different backgrounds is rewarding and life changing. It is a position I treasure and will continue to support the work of ELPNZ in helping people learn, develop the skills and knowledge they need to settle in Aotearoa, New Zealand."

Raihana Attaee

Appointed August 2023

Raihana was a judge in Afghanistan before she came to New Zealand in 2021. Raihana is studying law at Auckland University so that she can practise law in New Zealand. She first connected with English Language Partners as a student and is now a member of our Ethnic Advisory Group.

Raihana is based in Auckland.

“I love New Zealand and the compassionate people of this beautiful land. It is my great pleasure to be a member of Ethnic Advisory Group.”

Rizwaana Latiff

Appointed August 2023

Rizwaana’s background is nursing and midwifery and for the last ten years she has been working in community engagement in a range of public and private sector roles. Rizwaana is from South Africa and arrived in New Zealand over 23 years ago. She is based in the Hawkes Bay.

“I am passionate about building capability and resilience in our community for people to realise their full potential, to feel included and safe in our communities”

Rula Talahma

Appointed August 2023

Rula is the lead advisor for refugee and migrant education at the Ministry of Education.  She is a Palestinian Kiwi with a background in civil engineering and business administration. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Otago's National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies | Te Ao o Rongomaraeroa.  She is based in in Ōtepoti, Dunedin

“Serving on the Ethnic Advisory Committee for ELP combines two of my passions: languages and volunteering for community organisations that pave the way for social equity.”

Shamsunnisa Pathan

Appointed August 2023

Shamsunnisa is originally from India and came to New Zealand in 2003.  She attended classes at English Language Partners Rotorua.   Shamsunnisa has run her own businesses including as a car dealer and is an active member of her Rotorua community.  She is a founding member of the Rotorua Islamic Womens’ Group.  She is based in Rotorua.

“I love living in Rotorua, its natural geothermal activity makes it a unique place for people in Rotorua and around the world. It's my pleasure to be a member of the Ethnic Advisory Group and I am looking forward to contributing.”

Former members of the Ethnic Advisory Group

Bhoj Raj Subba (Bhutan); Joanne Lee (Korea); Joanne (Aijuan) Song (China); Ku Reh Nga (Myanmar); Mohammad Hilal (Syria); Rehab Mohamed (Egypt); Batu Gondol (Ethiopia); Hana Sabie (Iraq); Kutu Mukherjee (India); Patisepa Tagata (Tokelau); Dr Abdulmonem Nasser (Iraq); Brenda Chan (China); Ahmed Yusuf Ali (Ethiopia); Guadalupe Lagrade (Philippines); Samson Sahele (Ethiopia); Ifrah Shaqlane (Somalia); Asad Abdullahi (Somalia); Mar Mar Kyi Maung (Myanmar); Jae Ahn (Korea); Alice (Yaguang) Wang (China); Oham Saaed (Iraq); Gylchachak Sadikova (Uzbekistan); Maria (Soo Ae) Park (Korea); Ruth Chinamo (Zimbabwe); Khadra Mohamed (Somalia); Ahmad Munib Nouri (Afghanistan); Nisa Rose (China); Galawezh Noori (Iran); Maureen Zaya (Iraq); Emoke Csollany (Hungary); Pamela Joseph (Malaysia); Gurbrinder Aulakh (India); Fahima Haidari (Afghanistan); Hardy Hko (Korea); Kevin Park (Korea); Maria Cristina Rodriguez (Columbia); Wendy Li (China); Lwin Lwin Tue (Myanmar); Mohammad Amiri (Afghanistan); Priscilla Seo (Korea); Amit Prasad(Fiji); Akam Faraj (Iraq); Suldery Millan Ortega (Columbia); Suzel Daglinckx (Belgium); Maria Cristina Castro Herrera (Colombia); Valentyna Sylevych (Ukraine); Rhonda Lin (China); Suming Zhang (China); Leticia Ferreira Do Nascimento (Brazil); Chuda Ghimirey (Bhutan); Grace Ryu (Korea); Ruchika Jayatilaka (Sri Lanka); Amina Mofassir (Pakistan); Viva (Wei) Shao (China); Laure Romanetti (France)

National structure

Chief Executive - Rachel O'Connor

Ko Rachel O’Connor tōku ingoa, Nō Te Puke ahau, e mahi ana au hei tekaiwhakahaere 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 refugee sand 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.

Organisational structure