New standards and certification requirements

As part of the Language Assistance Services Programme a new standards and certification framework for language practitioners working across the public sector, the NAATI framework, will come into effect from 2024.

NAATI website(external link)

From 2024 NAATI certification will be a prerequisite for working as community language interpreters in the public sector. NAATI will not apply to Te Reo Māori or New Zealand Sign Language.

Proposed Transition to adopting NAATI Standards and Certification for Interpreters

29 May 2021

Purpose of this project

The purpose of this project is to improve the quality and consistency of the interpreting services provided to people who need to use interpreters so they can interact effectively with the New Zealand  government.

Members of the New Zealand interpreter workforce will need to be certified as meeting appropriate standards if they wish to continue providing interpreting services to New Zealand government, and government funded agencies from 1 July 2024. MBIE is contracting with NAATI for the use of their standards and associated certification framework.

This presentation outlines our proposed approach to the transition

How will interpreters be supported to achieve the goal?

Every interpreter who wishes to become NAATI certified during the next three years will be invited to register on the registration and induction tool.

We are building a comprehensive support environment for interpreters who wish to transition. This includes:

  • financial support
  • making sure there is appropriate and sufficient training and development, and preparation for testing available
  • enhancing the professional infrastructure through supporting NZSTI


The registration component gathers all information needed to support the decisions on what additional learning and experience the interpreter may need to achieve NAATI certification. This will include:

  • Demographic information
  • Languages
  • Information on qualifications – if any
  • Information on interpreting experience – if any

Practicing interpreters have widely varying backgrounds and will need personalised information on what they need to do to get on to the NAATI Certification Framework at the level they wish to.


We need to ensure that the New Zealand environment is appropriately reflected in the training and development of interpreters working here. A purpose designed induction course is being developed. This course will be:

  • Setting the context for work in the New Zealand Public Sector
  • Compulsory for interpreters working in the NZ Public Sector
  • Part of the professional development required to maintain NAATI certification
  • Free of charge
  • Self-paced and available on line
  • Incorporating self-testing to ensure all the concepts have been understood.

This induction course is an introduction to interpreting in the public sector and the knowledge required. It is not interpreter training but provides context that all interpreters will need.  It does NOT REPLACE introductory courses on interpreting.

For details on NAATI certification please see the NAATI website(external link)


  • There is no test to reach the Step 2 – To achieve recognition you need only to have an appropriate level of English, complete an approved introductory course which includes ethics, and meet the required number of hours of interpreting, some of which can be simulated. 
  • Yes, you will need to pass a NAATI test to achieve provisional or full certification (Steps 3, 4 or 5) regardless of your academic qualifications. Highly qualified and experienced interpreters are unlikely to find the NAATI testing too demanding.
  • You will need to undertake some professional development, including Conferences, webinars, additional training etc. so that your certification can be renewed every three years.
  • Professions generally require additional learning and testing to be done after achieving academic qualifications. This is to ensure consistent standards are being met.

Funding and support package summary

  • Following registration and induction each participant will receive a personalised entitlement note detailing the courses and tests available to them at no charge or attracting a subsidy.
  • Introductory courses are being developed by the tertiary sector to support those who do not have the necessary pre-requisites for Recognition on the Framework. Some of these will be ready to run during the second semester 2021.
  • Courses required as pre-requisites for testing for Provisional and Certified status on the NAATI framework may attract full or part fees paid depending on market need.
  • All NAATI testing will be free of charge
  • NZSTI plays a critical role in the transition and we are working with NZSTI to explore making additional professional development and support available.

Feedback on proposed approach

This presentation has outlined what we propose to do to achieve the goal of all interpreters working for the Public sector in New Zealand to be on the NAATI Certification by 1 July 2024.
You are welcome to provide feedback on the proposed approach to achieving this. Please be:

  • Specific
  • Offer an alternative to achieve the same goal if there is an element that you believe should not be included
  • Ask the question if there is something you don’t understand

Send your feedback to Alison McDonald by Friday 11th June

What happens next?

  • The feedback will be reviewed and any proposed changes will be considered.
  • A Feedback Report will be provided on 1 July 2021 This will be placed on the MBIE website. The report will outline the feedback and the response
  • The final approach detailing the support package will be provided from 1 July 2021 on the >MBIE website
  • Updates will also be provided on the MBIE website and in the LAS Newsletter – go to LAS Newsletter(external link) to subscribe.

Standards Feedback [PDF, 119 KB]

Last updated: 31 May 2021