About Speech NZ
The New Zealand Speech Board is a “not for profit” Registered Charitable Trust, with aims to develop versatility in the use of language and oral presentation and performance skills. We believe that self-confidence, resilience, and effective communication skills are enormously important, and strive to see the growth of these three elements in the New Zealand population. This is reflected in our motto “Helping our nation to communicate.”
Through our broad range of syllabuses, we conduct examinations in a range of oral communication skills, working with schools, private teachers, community groups, and the corporate sector. We also facilitate tailor-made, bespoke courses in a variety of speech communication skills, for professional and personal development. We collaborate with national and regional organisations to provide access to scholarships and opportunities for everyone.
We offer eight syllabuses that cater to all age groups, children, and adults. These include Speech, Drama, Public Speaking, Theatre in Action, Flexi Speaking and Performing, Communicating in Leadership, Oral Communication within Schools, Professional Speaking, and English as a Second Language. These teaching syllabuses are available free of charge.
The Board is governed by voluntary, unpaid Trustees and administered day-to-day by its Manager, Emma Carpenter, and an administration team based in Wellington. It has nineteen examination centres spread from Northland to Invercargill, each managed by a local secretary. Examiners are based throughout the country, either travelling for examinations, or since 2020, conducting zoom examinations. The Board trains and accredits examiners and assessors regularly to maintain a high standard.
Speech New Zealand began life in 1964 as the locally-based Wellington Speech Board.
By 1966, it had awakened national interest through the breadth of its aims – to provide indigenous examinations to New Zealanders and to acknowledge the importance of New Zealand literature in these examinations. Thus, the examining body became the New Zealand Speech Board with the motto ‘Speech is Life’.
Development was 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 was offered, 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. A ‘Theatre in Action’ syllabus for group drama was added in 2003.
By the year 2016, over 315,000 candidates had been examined since the Board’s foundation. Online examinations were now offered for theory papers and, by 2020, all theory papers could also be sat by assignment.
A new century and a new millennium stimulated the Board to adopt a new image and brand of ‘Speech New Zealand’. The name was supported by the new motto – “Helping our Nation to communicate”.
Covid-19 encouraged further development from the organisation, and in 2021 the organisation is proud to offer eight syllabi, zoom and in-person examinations, and more choice and versatility than ever before.