About Speech NZ

Speech New Zealand began life in 1964 as the locally-based Wellington Speech Board. By 1966 the breadth of its aims – to provide indigenous examinations to New Zealanders and to acknowledge the importance of New Zealand literature in these examinations – awakened national interest and the examining body became the New Zealand Speech Board with the motto ‘Speech is Life’.

The Board is a “not for profit” Registered Charitable Trust. It is governed by eight ¬†voluntary, unpaid Trustees and administered day-to-day by its Manager, Maureen Gray, and an administration team based in Wellington. It has nineteen examination centres spread from Northland to Invercargill, each set up as necessary by a local secretary. Examiners work under contract and are based throughout the country.

Development has been rapid. By 1967 the original six grades of the Speech and Drama syllabus had been extended to eight, and diplomas added. From 1970 a Public Speaking and Communication syllabus, plus others for Oral Communication Assessment for schools and other community groups, Professional Speaking and, Oral Communication in English for Speakers of Other languages, expanded the syllabus offering to five.

The Board trains and accredits examiners and assessors. 

Responding to increasing candidate numbers, and the changing education curriculums of the 1990s, the Board introduced supplementary examining days at some centres and re-structured senior and diploma practical modules and theory examinations. The single practical exams can now be taken as three individual modules, and theory examinations as a range of one-hour papers. Licentiate Diploma candidates can offer appropriate external qualifications for cross-credit,or undertake research assignments.

By the year 2016 over 315,000 candidates had been examined since the Board’s foundation.

A ‘Theatre in Action’ syllabus for group drama has been added in 2003.

A new century and a new millennium stimulated the Board to adopt a new image and brand – name, ‘Speech New Zealand’. The name is supported by our new message – “Helping our Nation to communicate”.

We help our Nation to communicate through our syllabuses and our “StudentSpeak” and “Words at Work” programmes. We are ever alert to our clients’ needs and welcome the opportunity to respond very positively to the demands of a changing marketplace.