image Is plain English still part of New Zealand government culture?

As we head towards New Zealand’s 2017 general election on 23 September, change is top of mind for many government agencies. Elections inevitably lead to change, whether the main governing party is re-elected or not.

What we’re hoping is that any change in government won’t change what we’re seeing from government agencies — a growing commitment to plain language.

Back in 2015, Rewrite author Lynda Harris wrote that she believed ‘the ideal of plain language is pervasive across most New Zealand government organisations’. She also said that plain language appeared to be alive and well across the public sector — even if not translated into perfection in every public document or website.

‘To have so many organisations committing to make a change is really exciting. It means that they care enough about their readers to make the effort needed to change how they think and feel about writing.’

Keeping it clear for new New Zealanders

One example of a recent government resource based on plain language principles is Immigration New Zealand’s Keeping it clear. This online resource helps new migrants to settle successfully and contribute to New Zealand society.

Keeping it Clear. Writing guidance from Immigration New Zealand.

Judi Altinkaya of Immigration New Zealand says:

New Zealand’s growing diversity means that many people living here do not speak English as their first language — and this highlights the importance of always using plain English. To help new migrants, we published Keeping it clear — a guide to writing for an audience new to New Zealand.

We wrote about this resource last year

See Part 3 of Rewrite for details about organisation-wide change projects at several public sector agencies.

See how the Plain English Awards are making a difference