Incoming Chief Executive a strong advocate for new Kiwis

Our Organisation

English Language Partners New Zealand (ELP) is delighted to announce the appointment of Rachel O’Connor as Chief Executive from 12 September 2022.

Rachel O’Connor, Chief Executive, English Language Partners New Zealand

With a Masters of Migration Studies and over 15 years’ experience in the refugee and migrant sector, Rachel is a passionate humanitarian, supporter and advocate for welcoming and integrating people new to New Zealand. She is currently lead advisor to the Race Relations Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission.

Previously, Rachel was General Manager of Migration at New Zealand Red Cross, overseeing the community settlement programme for quota refugees as well as employment and mental health services for former refugees and asylum seekers.


"I'm delighted to be joining English Language Partners, particularly at this time in our country's history when it's essential to be welcoming and supporting people new to Aotearoa New Zealand."

People who have migrated here bring cultural, social and economic benefits that make Aotearoa New Zealand so much richer.  I'm excited to lead the ELP team as we support new Kiwis in their language and settlement journey.

Prior to her GM role, Rachel worked for Red Cross as National Programmes Development Manager and as Waikato/Bay of Plenty Humanitarian Services Manager. From 2007 to 2014, she was Waikato Manager of Refugee Services Aotearoa. During her time at Red Cross (2014–21), Rachel was involved in both domestic and international advocacy, regularly engaging with international forced migration networks. Rachel led the Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri project in 2020, delivering essential assistance to nearly 20,000 foreign nationals stranded in Aotearoa New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdowns.


Board Chair, Karun Shenoy, says Rachel was selected from a field of extraordinarily strong candidates.

Rachel has had a long association with English Language Partners, is greatly motivated by our purpose and knows the refugee and migrant sector extremely well.

"We look forward to working with her and the ELP team to help people from refugee and migrant backgrounds learn English, settle well and achieve their goals.”


Watch Rachel’s refugee settlement TEDx talk (2015)

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