Vision, Mission, Values

Our vision

That former refugees and migrants have the opportunity to learn English, to pursue aspirations for themselves and their families, and to participate in all aspects of life in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our mission

To provide English language skills and social support for effective resettlement of former refugees and migrants in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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.

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.

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.

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 enable 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 2017

    • 7,192 learners
    • 4,938 female and 2,254 male learners
    • 1,668 refugee-background or asylum seeker learners
    • 1,816 volunteers tutored a refugee-background or migrant learner in their home or/and assisted a class teacher
    • 887 new volunteers trained as tutors

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

    Read our 2017 Annual Report

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 responsibilities framework


National Board

David Bromell, Chair

I have been a Principal Advisor in the Strategic Policy team at Environment Canterbury since July 2013. From 2003-13 I worked in policy advice roles in the Ministry of Social Development in Wellington and was acting Chief Policy Advisor 2012-13.
Prior to 2003, I worked in church social services and parish ministry. I have previous board experience as executive director of the Christchurch Methodist Mission (1998-2003), and on the Rehua Marae Trust Board, the Lifeline Christchurch Charitable Trust Board, the Christchurch Council of Christian Social Services Trust Board, the Otago-Southland Tertiary Chaplaincy Trust Board and the Archer Memorial Home Trust Board.

I have also worked in the tertiary education sector, as a tutor and lecturer at Otago University (1986-93), as Executive Officer of the Oamaru Campus of Otago Polytechnic (1993-96), and (on secondment) as Chief Policy Analyst in the Tertiary Group of the Ministry of Education (2008). I am a Senior Associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies in the School of Government at Victoria University (since 2008), and since 2012 have taught a course in political philosophy in the School’s Master of Public Policy programme. One of my research interests is ethnicity, identity and public policy, and I am a member of the NZ Political Studies Association and of the Population Association of New Zealand.

I have a PhD and BDHons in Theology and an MA in History.

I have been a volunteer ESOL home tutor (in Porirua and Christchurch) with English Language Partners since 2010.

Catherine Neill, Deputy Chair

I was born in New Zealand, but my family migrated to England when I was 11. I came back in 2004 with my own family, and I have lived in Temuka, a small rural township in South Canterbury, ever since. I have a BA (Hons) in Combined Studies from the University of Liverpool, and when I graduated I joined Portsmouth City Council as a trainee. I qualified as a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in the UK and I now work as an auditor.

I have a good grounding in the not-for-profit sector. In addition to my current professional involvement with charitable organisations, I worked for the local education authority in Portsmouth, I was a high school bursar for 3 years, I have been on the PTA at my son’s primary and high schools, I am on the Board of Trustees at the high school and I am the treasurer of a regional sports partnership.

I joined the committee of the Aoraki centre as the treasurer and have also served as the committee chair. I am a volunteer home tutor and I look forward to learning something new every lesson. I have been on the National Board since May 2014.

Gurbrinder Aulakh

Gurbrinder Aulakh has more than 20 years’ combined overseas and New Zealand experience in the field of law.

A lawyer at a High Court in India, he was also an executive committee member of the High Court Bar and on the panel of boards, authorities and corporations. Gurbrinder has a degree in law and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Communication Skills and Sociology.

Having studied and requalified in New Zealand, and been admitted as a barrister and solicitor at the High Court in Auckland, Gurbrinder worked at law firms on the North Shore and central Auckland, before joining a city-based law firm with a focus on litigation. He now runs his private practice and is on the committee of the Auckland District Law Society.

Gurbrinder served as the Deputy-Chair of the Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) for five years. He has advised many social and community organisations and has been on ethnic media discussing community and legal issues. He has advised the Indian High Commission to New Zealand on legal matters.

He is fluent in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.

Gurbrinder has had a long association with English Language Partners as an ESOL home tutor, committee member and Chair of the North Shore centre, a member of the Ethnic Advisory Group and as a member of the National Board.

Anne Alkema

I am a researcher and evaluator who has worked in a variety of roles across the education sector. It started with roles on kindergarten and primary school committees, then as a secondary school English teacher and Head of Department. Following this came roles as a public servant with the Ministry of Education, one of which was to manage literacy and numeracy in the school sector. For the last 11 years I have worked in the tertiary sector managing research programmes and conducting research and evaluation. I currently work as an independent contractor, and also for Heathrose Research and the Industry Training Federation.

My main area of work is in adult literacy and numeracy where my focus has been on the economic and social impact of New Zealand government policies and the extent to which these policy settings are working for foundation learners. I have also conducted research and evaluation in policing, the health sector, the transport sector and the volunteer sector.

I hold a Master of Education from Victoria University of Wellington. Outside of work I love spending time with my grandchildren; on the golf course; and in the garden.

Amit Prasad

I am Director of Finance for the University of Auckland. In my previous employment I worked as a Facilitator for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand; Management Accountant for Hewlett Packard; Finance and Administration Manager Campus Group Limited and General Manager for Outdoor Designs Limited.

I am also currently a trustee of the New Zealand Institute of Management Foundation and a member of the High Tech Youth Network Audit Committee. I have previously been a trustee of the Sustainability Institute Foundation and an Advisory Board Member to the New Zealand Institute of Management

I am studying for my MBA, Corporate Governance Specialisation; have a Graduate Diploma in Business; a Bachelor of Applied Management (Financial Management Speciality); a Post-Graduate Certificate in Financial Administration; and a Diploma in Accounting Studies.

I have been an English Language Partners National Board member and a member of the Ethnic Advisory Group since 2013.

Kara Scally-Irvine


Karun Shenoy

I was born in India and, in 1988, I emigrated to New Zealand having spent a couple of years in Singapore en route. My professional career has largely been in the Information Technology industry. This has included roles spanning management of major $100 million-plus technology programmes through to founding a tech start-up.

I have operated my own IT consulting company for over twenty years, providing programme and project management services as well as  business transformation consultancy. I am currently on the board of Angel HQ (with members investing in early stage companies) and have also been on advisory boards for start-ups.

I have worked as a mentor for ELP’s Job Mentoring Services for a few years. I have also volunteered as a business mentor helping small businesses through the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and as a student mentor in the IT Professionals TechHub career evangelist programme.

I am fluent in English, Hindi, Konkani, and Tamil, and have basic skills in several other Indian languages though my attempts to learn Mandarin, Japanese and French have not been particularly successful!

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Computer Science) and a Master’s in Business Administration.

My recreational interests include trekking (have tramped the NZ Great Walks, and trekked Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kinabalu), cycling, skiing, travel (have explored the seven continents but the bucket list keeps growing), wathcing sports and the Performing Arts.

Sophie Ngo

I came to New Zealand from Vietnam. I have been in the journey of learning and mastering English through study and work. I hope to  to give back to the community by drawing on my extensive experience delivering information technology modernisation and business transformation projects. I share the vision, missions and values of English Language Partners, and as a Board member, I am keen to contribute through setting and overseeing strategic directions for ELPNZ’s advancement and long-term business sustainability.

I have a Master in Business Management and a Bachelor with Honours in Accounting. My commercial experience ranges from Enterprise Resource Planning Systems, Finance, Financial Services, Logistics, to Cyber Security. I am currently a member of the Institute of Directors (New Zealand) and working towards becoming a chartered member through a formal training program offered by the Institute.

Jane von Dadelszen

I am an independent consultant providing advice and analysis to government agencies and educational organisations in New Zealand and internationally. I’m a council member of the Hong Kong Council for the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ), a member of the HKCAAVQ task force reviewing accreditation criteria and standards and a member of the Primary ITO Board.

Until December 2015, I was Deputy Chief Executive, Quality Assurance, at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) responsible for regulating the quality of tertiary and vocational education and the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). Previously, for ten years, I led tertiary education policy at the Ministry of Education.

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

I’m currently a volunteer mentor for the First Foundation and for the Women in National Security project. I also provide voluntary strategy advice to Zealandia wildlife sanctuary.

I have an MA in Psychology from Otago University and I also enjoy gardening, travel in New Zealand and internationally, tramping, reading, films, conversation and ideas.


Nicola Sutton, Chief Executive

I have been Chief Executive of English Language Partners since 2011. Prior to that, I was Deputy Chief Executive for several years.

I have been involved with the organisation for the past two decades in a variety of paid and voluntary roles. I trained as a volunteer ESOL home tutor in Auckland West in the mid-1990’s and through this work I gained an insight into the challenges newcomers with limited or no English language skills encounter on a daily basis. I have worked with three families who all arrived here from war-torn nations. Through my work as a home tutor I became involved in developing resource libraries in three of our Auckland centres, used my finance background to carry out accounting and fundraising work, and was a programme coordinator and teacher in our Christchurch centre.

I was elected to the National Board in 1999 and took on the role of Chair in 2001, a position I held until 2007. During this time, I completed a Graduate Diploma in Not-for-Profit Management and used the knowledge to train our centre committees in governance.

Prior to my work with ELPNZ I spent time raising four sons as a stay-at-home mother. My previous work had been in financial administration, complaints resolution, and project management for a funding organisation.

I have a Master in Commerce and Administration (Distinction) from Victoria University.

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.

Amina Mofassir

Christchurch, from Pakistan

Rhonda (Rong) Lin

Hutt, from China
Board representative


Chuda Ghimirey

Palmerston North, from Bhutan


Valentyna Sylevych

Christchurch, from Ukraine


Tina Castro


Waikato, from Colombia (photo pending)


Rehab Mohamed


Rotorua, from Egypt (photo pending)


Grace Ryu

North Shore, from South Korea


Ruchika Jayatilaka

Wellington, from Sri Lanka


Suming Zhang

Wellington, from China


National structure

Organisational structure


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.

Settlement through English

In 2006, the association published Settlement through English: a history of ESOL Home Tutors. You can download a pdf copy or, to access a copy of the book, visit the National Library of New Zealand.