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The Show Must Go On… Online!

Speech New Zealand undertakes a first foray into online examinations, as it prepares examiners and candidates for a post-covid world

Today, Speech New Zealand (SNZ) will undertake its first foray into online examinations of speech, drama, and public speaking, after nearly 60 years in the face-to-face examination business.

The charitable organisation, founded in 1964, has seen over 330,000 candidates examined over the years, but today will mark the first time the examining body has tested candidates’ skills virtually.

Pauline Prendergast, SNZ Chairperson, says the move to online examinations has taken getting used to by examiners, teachers, and candidates alike, but is worth the effort – and sometimes discomfort.

“The board has long considered how we could diversify our offering to ensure we are helping all of New Zealand to communicate,” says Prendergast. “The immediate impact of Covid-19 on teachers and examiners gave us the impetus to pivot the business and accelerate our plans to run exams, as planned, but through an online platform instead.”

While the organisation appreciates the importance of face-to-face communication, even in a post-COVID world, they understand now is time to start considering the new normal. Ensuring SNZ can continue to support the industry is of upmost importance, says SNZ Chair of Examinations Karen Austin.

“If our efforts can help to keep teachers and examiners in work, as well as candidates striving to progress their communication skills – and keep them occupied in trying times – we will do everything we can to facilitate this,” says Austin. “Speech New Zealand are in a unique position where our product and service can be taught, learnt and examined through a virtual forum. Our mission has always been to help New Zealanders communicate; Kiwis need that help now more than ever as we find ourselves communicating in our new-normal of isolated spaces.”

Today’s exams will run via the online video conferencing platform Zoom, as the organisation looks to secure the best, most efficient online platform to support all stakeholders.

SNZ is New Zealand’s longest standing local communications examining body, with over 20 accredited examiners. All SNZ accredited examiners have a minimum qualification of a Licentiate Diploma in Speech & Drama and Public Speaking & Communication, with ongoing training and annual standardisation accreditation training.

Examiners have undergone additional training to mitigate differences in the examining experience, online, providing confidence to candidates that they are being examined ethically and at the highest standard, as they progress their skills through grade levels.

“It is without a doubt, incredibly important that our candidates and examiners remain safe in their own bubbles through these extraordinary times and newly founded exams,” says Austin. “We wish all April candidates the best of luck!”


Speech New Zealand aims to develop versatility in the use of language and oral presentation and performance skills. With syllabuses for all age groups, children, and adults, in Speech, Drama, Public Speaking, Oral Communication within Schools, Professional Speaking and Oral Communication for those whose first language is not English. These teaching syllabuses are available free of charge.

The Board is a “not for profit” Registered Charitable Trust. It is governed by voluntary, unpaid Trustees and administered day-to-day by the administration team based in Wellington. It has nineteen examination centres spread from Northland to Invercargill.

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