What do new migrant employees say about communicating in NZ workplaces?

This short video shows new migrant employees talking about communicating in NZ workplaces.


Worktalk - Intro (Employee) (2:18min)

Hi, my name is Hanane Belhoul, I am from Algeria. I am a biochemist. The first big challenge um . . . in being in New Zealand is the Kiwi accent um . . . because it’s a very strong accent and New Zealanders talk very fast.

Hi, I’m Fidela Antonia Ladores and I work at the Parliamentary Counsel Office. The many challenges that we have to face er . . . in communicating at the workplace is really about er . . . how to fit in . . into the organisation. As opposed to having a formal and direct experience in the Philippines I noticed that New Zealanders er . . . use a lot of softeners in their communication.

For example when they request something or refuse or disagree they always use um . . . “I am wondering . .” or um . . . “Could you please . . .” or “Would you mind . . .” In Algeria we are more direct and so sometimes we . . we say things and people, New Zealanders, think that it’s very rude so we . . we don’t know which words we . . we should use and how to use them, and when we use them.

I recall when I did a er … minute taking for the regional commissioner meeting um . . . there was a time when someone said that er . . . this project will be in the back burner. So I said, “Oh” in my mind I said, “Ah, what, what’s the back burner?” And then er . . . the regional commissioner er . . said in um . . . a gentle way, “Could you explain to that lady over there, who’s taking the minutes er. . what er . . back burner means?” So . . . yeah er . . . it was really er . . really a good one! You use a lot of idioms here.

The tips I would like to give to new migrants, when they come to New Zealand - first of all attend communication courses. This is very very helpful, not only understand or er . . . improve their listening but understand New Zealand culture as well. And the second thing is to not be afraid from asking people to repeat er . . . what they said before because people here are very friendly so there is no problem for that.

Developed by Immigration New Zealand in collaboration with the Language in the Workplace Team, School of Linguistics & Applied Language Studies, Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington.

In a hurry? Download a printable series of communication tips for both migrant employees and managers of migrants.

Download the PDF (PDF, 250.3 KB)

Logo Victoria University of Wellington - Update

Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington’s Language in the Workplace Project investigates effective communication in the New Zealand workplace.

Read more about this project

Logo Immigration New Zealand

Immigration New Zealand also funds a free service for new migrants providing information about living in New Zealand for example, where to find a doctor, how to choose a school, understanding the health system, and clubs and community groups to join.

Information for new migrants

For information about learning English visit the New Zealand Now website, or call free 0508 558 885 (for help in your own language ask for “Language Line”).