Interpreter services

Interpreter services are available in most areas of New Zealand for hospital and primary care visits. This page provides an overview and links to key services.

This page is for general interpreting services. If you are looking for information on NZ Sign language interpreters, visit our page here.

English is the most commonly used language in health care settings. If you or someone you know needs health care services but don't feel confident communicating in English, you can ask for an interpreter. Trying to communicate in a language that is not your mother tongue can be very stressful when you need health care. You have the right to talk about your health in a way that you feel comfortable with.

It's best not to use someone you know as an interpreter. Even a person with excellent English skills may not be able to understand health-related information well. This can create gaps in the information shared and increase the chances of misunderstandings on your healthcare journey.


Image credit: Canva

Arranging an interpreter

If you have been admitted to the hospital, please let staff know that you need an interpreter. Let them know what your preferred spoken language is (including dialect) and your preferred written language.

If you need to see another health care provider, such as a GP, let them know as soon as possible that you need an interpreter. It can take up to a day for the healthcare service to book an interpreter but if you need one urgently, ask the service if that would be possible.

For some languages, a professional interpreter can come to an appointment in person. For other languages, professional interpreters are only available on the phone.

Here are some charts you can use to help communicate your language.

Cost

Most public health services provide interpreting services for free if you are eligible for publicly funded health services in New Zealand. Check with your healthcare provider if you're not sure. Several private interpreter services you can pay for are available in New Zealand. See the bottom of the page for some links to private interpreter services.

Health Providers who provide telephone interpreting services

Provider Contact details

Ambulance for a healthcare emergency

Call 111

Healthline for general health advice and information

Call 0800 611 116

BreastScreen Aotearoa. A free breast screening service.

Call 0800 270 200

Family Planning. A service for sexual and reproductive health.

Contact your local clinic. Find your local clinic here.

Mary Potter Hospice. A charity that provides specialist palliative care services for people living in Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti

Call 04 389 5017

National Poisons Centre for information on poisoning.

Call 0800 764 766

Plunket A support service for children under 5 and their families.

Call 0800 933 922

Need language support? - English

(Waitematā DHB, NZ, 2020)

Need language support? - Chinese

(Waitematā DHB, NZ, 2020)

Need language support? - Hindi

(Waitematā DHB, NZ, 2020)

Private interpreter services

Ezispeak is New Zealand's national telephone and video interpreting service for the public and private sector.
New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters
 
Department of Internal Affairs Translation Service
, NZ
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Language Assistance Services NZ

Apps

There are various apps that you can use to provide translated services such as iTranslate and Google Translate. Visit your app store.

Learn more

Your rights in different languages Health & Disability Commissioner, NZ 
Difference between trained interpreters and untrained interpreters in various languages  Interpreting New Zealand
Guide to eligibility for publicly funded health services Manatu Hauora, NZ 

Healthcare professionals

Find interpreting services for your consultations via Health Pathways.

Additional resources:

References

Language interpreting and translation – migrant health guide GOV.UK 
Interpreter services Auckland Health Pathways, NZ (subscription only)
Does the NHS have to provide an interpreter? NHS, UK

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.