Mandarin Language Assistant Programme


Helping to promote the learning of Mandarin in NZ schools

The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement supports the placement of Mandarin Language Assistants (MLAs) in NZ schools to facilitate the teaching and learning of Mandarin and to raise the quality of Mandarin language provision in NZ schools. Placed in schools for the year, the MLA works with NZ teachers to support Chinese programmes aligned with the goals of the schools.

The programme also provides the MLAs with an opportunity to improve their English, to experience NZ and to engage and build connections with NZers.

With borders reopened in 2023, the Confucius Institute has been able to re-ignite the MLA programme to support Chinese in schools in the wider Auckland region spanning from Northland to Waikato.

We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of MLAs in 2024 to further support schools to introduce and/or enhance Chinese language and culture programmes. Read more about the MLA programme in the download file below.


Expressions of Interest to host an MLA in 2024

are now closed.

Key dates:

  • Deadline for Expressions of Interest: 5 pm, Friday 29 September 2023
  • Schools notified: by 16 October 2023
  • Schools MLA intro workshop: Thursday 9 November 2023 (TBC)
  • MLA arrival: late January/beginning February 2024

In 2008, the respective Education Ministries partnered with the Office of the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), in China and Confucius Institute (CI) in Auckland (at the University of Auckland) to implement this initiative. The Confucius Institute selects eligible schools, provides an orientation programme for the incoming MLAs and monitors progress during the school year.

The Confucius Institute in Auckland oversees the programme, ensuring that the host schools and MLAs are operating in line with expectations and requirements.

In 2010, six Mandarin Language Assistants were placed into NZ schools for the first time. Since then, the initiative has successfully promoted the learning of Mandarin and raised the quality of Mandarin language provision in NZ schools. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the average number of MLAs each year for the Confucius Institute in Auckland was approximately 50 impacting on around 120 schools in various clusters in the Auckland, Northland and Waikato regions. Within all of NZ, in collaboration with the Confucius Institutes at Victoria University of Wellington and University of Canterbury, there was a total of 150 MLAs working in NZ schools, as per the maximum number in the Free Trade Agreement.

The Free Trade Agreement upgrade in 2022 now allows up to 300 MLAs to enter NZ.

For more information and analysis on the MLA programme, go to the MLA Review Report below.




Physical Address:
The University of Auckland
Pembridge House
31 Princes Street
Auckland Central 1010

Phone: +64 9 923 9955

Postal Address:
Confucius Institute in Auckland
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142, New Zealand

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