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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Interpreting services

This page has links to information in other languages.


In New Zealand, when you use a health or disability service you have the right to be told things in a way you understand.

You can read a leaflet about your rights in many different languages.

If you're enrolled with a general practice, you can ask for an interpreter.

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

Professional interpreters are free for enrolled patients and must keep total confidentiality.

Arranging an interpreter

Ask for a professional interpreter when you book your appointment. It can take 24 hours to book a professional interpreter for you or your family.

You'll need to ask your general practice's receptionist for a professional interpreter. You can do this by:

If you need an urgent appointment, your general practice can organise a phone interpreter.

If you're unhappy about a professional interpreting service that you received, tell your general practice so they can follow up.

If you aren't enrolled with a general practice 

If you aren't enrolled, you can still ask for a professional interpreter, but you may have to pay.

Consider buying health insurance and asking your insurance provider if your policy will pay for the cost of interpreting services.

Family members

Do not use a family member or friend as an interpreter. A professional interpreter is trained and bound by a code of ethics or confidentiality agreement. You can bring your family member or friend to support you if you want.

Never ask someone younger than 18 to interpret for you. This includes your child or grandchild.

The following factsheets explain the differences between trained and untrained interpreters:

English, Amharic, Arabic, Assyrian, Burmese, Farsi, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Nepali, Simplified Chinese, Samoan, Somali, Spanish.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2022.

See also:

Communication cards in multiple languages

Getting medical help if you are new to the district

Health information in multiple languages

Interpreter cards

New Zealand healthcare system

Page reference: 549163

Review key: HIITC-541066