Feedback report: proposed interpreter transition support package

Interpreters were invited to consider and provide feedback for a proposal for a support package for New Zealand interpreters to transition to the NAATI certification system. This report summarises the feedback received and what has been done with it.


On 29 June 2021 the approach that MBIE proposed to take to supporting interpreters who would be affected by the decision that all interpreters working in the New Zealand Public Sector be NAATI certified from 1 July 2024 was shared. This was done via the NZSTI Conference and on the MBIE website. Information about the proposed approach was also circulated widely through Language Service Providers, Training Providers, NZSTI and New Zealand Public Sector Agencies who use interpreting services.

MBIE was keen to give Interpreters an opportunity to comment on the proposed approach to support them to ensure that they were meeting the needs of those interpreters who wished to transition to the NAATI system between 1 July 2021 and 1 July 2024. Interpreters were invited to consider the proposal and to provide feedback by 11 June 2021. MBIE undertook to consider the feedback and to provide a report on the feedback received and what has been done with it.

Response summary

There were 67 responses to the request for feedback. Of these, 50 (75%) responses addressed the question of whether the package of support to implement the transition to the NAATI system was appropriate.  All of these responses (100%) welcomed the initiative, thanked MBIE for the opportunity and expressed willingness to sign up as soon as the package became available. Some of these responses also asked specific questions for clarification. For example could a translator who wished to become an interpreter access the package? Were courses going to be available online? Where do I sign up? These questions are all answered in the content of the final support package.

The remaining 17 responses were outside the brief.

  • Three questioned the decision to adopt the NAATI standards – as opposed to how the decision made in 2018 would be implemented and support New Zealand interpreters.
  • There were other responses raising questions that related to the procurement work for the Face to Face procurement model.
  • Some responses were commenting about the pay rates offered to interpreters and queries around terms and conditions.
  • Some were purely administrative comments or questions where Language Service providers noted that they were forwarding the email advising about the proposed approach and invitation to respond to interpreters on their contact lists.

What was changed as a result of the feedback

The basic proposal for support is unchanged. The main focus of support will be on providing those interpreters who wish to become NAATI certified with help to achieve this. The help comprises:

  • payment of course fees so that people who cannot currently meet the NAATI pre-requisites for testing can be helped to do so
  • enabling course providers to make courses more accessible to those who are working full-time and who may live outside the main centres
  • payment of NAATI testing and assessment fees
  • support for NZSTI to help them enhance their offerings in respect of professional development.

There were no arguments with any of these elements. The responses did indicate where more clarity was needed and also where resources might be directed to support additional course offerings. As a result:

  • English Language courses (where there is a need for a re-fresh or top up of English Language competence), has been added into the list of courses that can be undertaken fees free
  • eligbility has been clarified to ensure that all interpreters who are New Zealand Citizens or who hold New Zealand permanent resident visas are covered. Those people on visas that don’t allow working or don’t allow the person to remain in New Zealand and work beyond 1 July 2024 will not be eligible. However, we are willing to look into cases at the margin and people who are not clearly “in” or “out” may contact us for discussion of their case
  • new ideas for professional development to be negotiated with NZSTI included:
    • language clinics to ensure interpreters can keep up to date with their language, seen as particularly important now that travel has been curtailed by COVID
    • face to face discussion groups and opportunities to discuss material in the compulsory New Zealand induction course that is being made available only online and self-paced
  • payment arrangements have been clarified. Course fees will be paid directly to the course providers on behalf of the interpreter who has been accepted on to a course. The interpreter needs to forward the invoice to when they register and MBIE will organise payment of this invoice. NAATI fees are being paid directly to NAATI by MBIE under a contract arrangement where MBIE is advised of the eligible candidates for testing and assessment who have applied to take tests or be assessed in the NAATI system, and
  • those interpreters who have recently registered for courses offered in the 2nd Semester and have already paid will be offered cross-credits that can be redeemed against further courses of study they wish to take that may not be covered by the package because they are not a pre-requisite for NAATI certification.

What is not changing as a result of the feedback and why

There were 17 responses to the consultation that raised additional matters, outside the scope of the consultation on the support package for New Zealand interpreters to transition to the NAATI certification system. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s language assistance services programme will carefully take the valuable input on these additional matters into account, particularly in how it:—

  • finalises the public sector language assistance services guidelines, including in what those guidelines say about the use of appropriately qualified and experienced interpreters and translators
  • manages the cross-government open syndicated contract for telephone and video interpreting, including the performance measures for the supplier under that contract, and
  • enters into and subsequently manages the cross-government open syndicated contract for face-to-face interpreting, including the performance measures for the suppliers under that contract.
Last updated: 05 July 2021