The Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury aims to bring understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture and language to our local community - the South Island of New Zealand. We have a range of programmes designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, which we offer both to students and to the general public.


Mandarin Language Assistants (MLAs) are postgraduate students from China who come to New Zealand for 1 – 3 years to teach Chinese in New Zealand schools. This year, there are 42 Mandarin Language Assistants and three Mandarin teachers employed by the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury teaching Chinese. The MLAs typically live with local families and help students to increase their Mandarin language ability and run or teach cultural activities. The programme was signalled in the Free Trade Agreement signed between China and New Zealand in 2008.  The agreement allowed for teachers to come from China to help teach Mandarin in New Zealand.

In 2020, schools are asked to pay an administration fee of $500 per MLA which can be shared among schools hosting the MLA. If the MLA is only at a school part time, the cost is reduced. Other costs are funded by the Confucius Institute Headquarters.

The role of MLAs

The role of an MLA is to teach Mandarin language effectively, provide information and insight into Chinese culture and language, model accurate pronunciation and intonation and assist the classroom teacher.

MLAs may contribute to the Chinese language programmes at participating schools by:

  • Teaching ‘taster’ classes designed to interest students in learning more about Chinese culture and language
  • Teaching regular Chinese language lessons at primary, intermediate or secondary level
  • Assisting with the preparation of Chinese learning resoures using authentic language
  • Assisting Chinese language teachers by providing opportunities for students to interact with a native speaker, stimulating genuine classroom communications
  • Assist teachers in the classroom and/or make small group work not only possible but more effective
  • Assist teachers to extend their own linguistic and cultural knowledge. This may include assisting a Chinese teacher in his/her language study.

Primary schools

Mandarin Language Assistants are available to teach at primary and intermediate schools. Usually, an MLA will teach classes introducing language and/or culture for 30 – 60 minutes once a week. Most MLAs teach a number of different classes at each school, and will often teach at two or more different schools.

Lessons are designed to be age-appropriate and fun. The hope is that children will develop an interest in learning about different cultures and languages.

Secondary schools

MLAs assist in different ways depending on the need of the school. In some schools, the MLA assists the Chinese teacher with lesson preparation and providing opportunities for students to speak with a native speaker. 

In other schools, MLAs teach Chinese independently, either as a subject or as an extra-curricular activity.

MLAs are also able to aid schools to develop a Chinese language programme by assisting current teachers with learning Chinese. CIUC is also able to provide textbooks and online resources to help teachers learn Chinese. Some schools also offer evening classes in Mandarin, which Mandarin Language Assistants are able to teach.

Martial arts and Tai Chi

CIUC also has a specialised Martial Arts instructor. She is available to teach at schools. She can teach regular lessons in Christchurch, or do one-off cultural interactive demonstrations throughout the South Island. She is also available to participate in cultural days.

Cultural days and festivals

Many of CIUC’s MLAs are able to demonstrate aspects of Chinese culture such as calligraphy, paper cutting and dance. We often visit schools to take part in cultural days or festivals. Schools usually contribute to the cost of materials.

Host school’s responsibilities 

China will fund the international travel costs and a living allowance for each MLA. In return, New Zealand is responsible for health insurance and making arrangemennts for homestay accommodation. The costs of the homestay accommodation are also covered by the Confucius Institute Headquarters. 

The schools should provide support for MLAs in their role teaching Chinese. Particularly, they should give them the opportunity to learn about teaching in New Zealand, including allowing them to observe classes. They should also provide feedback on their teaching. In order to facilitate this, we send an evaluation form to the schools each term and use comments given to improve our level of teaching.

Schools outside city bounds should provide transportation to and from schools. If transportation costs are greater than $25 per week, schools need to top up the difference. MLAs generally do not have access to cars, and often don't have a driver's license.

We do expect lead schools to assist in finding homestay accommodation for the MLAs.

Administration fee

For schools with an MLA based at their school or cluster of schools full time, the administration fee is $500 per year per MLA. This can be divided among the cluster of schools. If a school does not have an MLA based at it full time, the administration fee for the whole year is $200 (the MLA teaches at the school for one day a week) or $400 (the MLA teaches at the school two days a week). The number of hours an MLA teaches a day does not affect the administration fee. If the MLA teaches at a school for three or more days a week, the administration fee is $500. The administration fee covers the cost of the MLAs insurance and our administration costs.

Contact us

For more information, or to request an application form, please contact: 

CIUC Deputy Director
Associate Professor Qianhua Yu
Ph: 03 369 3383

The Centre for Language and Education Cooperation (CLEC) provides full scholarships to students wishing to study in China’s universities. Because Huazhong University of Science and Technology partners with the University of Canterbury, many students from the South Island have studied there. For more information, refer to the links below or email

Please scan the below QR Code for access to Scholarship Q & A.

Contact person at the University of Canterbury
Associate Professor Qianhua Yu
Phone: 03 369 3383 

Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK)

CIUC offers three types of examination of Chinese test: HSK (writing, reading and listening), HSKK (speaking) and YCT (reading, writing and listening for school students).

The Centre for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC) in Beijing runs the HSK, HSKK and YCT Test both in China and across the globe.

All information on the tests and preparation courses will be announced on this website. You can purchase exam preparation materials from the Confucius Institute.

Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK)

HSK is an international standardised test of Chinese language proficiency, assessing the ability of non-native speakers (including non-Chinese, overseas Chinese and Chinese national minorities) to communicate in their daily life, study and work. The test consists of six levels, serving as a prerequisite for foreign students to study in China and to apply for scholarships; and for foreigners to work in China, apply for permanent residence, and immigration etc. HSK testing is also widely used by multi-national enterprises as a key basis for recruitment and promotion.

In 2023, HSK testing is held at the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury respectively once March, May, June, August, October, November and December.

HSK Speaking Test (HSKK)

HSK Speaking Test (HSKK) assesses the test takers’ oral Chinese abilities. HSKK consists of three levels, HSKK (Primary level), HSKK (Intermediate level) and HSKK (Advanced level). HSKK is conducted in the form of audio recording.

In 2023, HSKK testing is held at the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury respectively once March, May, October and December. 

Youth Chinese Test (YCT)

Youth Chinese Test (YCT), an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency, assesses the primary and middle school students' abilities to use Chinese as second language in their daily and academic lives. YCT is divided into writing and speaking tests, which are independent to each other. The writing test consists of four levels, namely, YCT (level I), YCT (level II), YCT (level III), and YCT (level IV). The speaking test consists of two levels, YCT Speaking (Primary Level) and YCT Speaking (Intermediate Level).

In 2023, YCT testing is held at the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury respectively once May, August and November. 

Please note that all CIUC Examinations are held in-person here on the University of Canterbury campus, with no online or electronic examination options available.

Detailed information about 2023 exams is below:

Information Sheet for Chinese Examinations 2023

Chinese Examination Registration Form


Contact Details

Jodie-Anne Martin        

Project Coordinator of Confucius Institute          

Room 209 James Logie Building at University of Canterbury

Christchurch 8140, New Zealand


Ph 03 3 369 0863 | Cell 027 317 2332  


The Chinese Bridge Competition 2023

The “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition (汉语桥) is back again for 2023! This competition is hosted by Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury and supported by the Centre for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC).  It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your Chinese language skills and for your chance to win a scholarship to study in China!



The Chinese Bridge speech competition is a series of events for non-Chinese speakers from Year 1 to Tertiary level.  In 2023, the dates for the competition events are as follows:  

Thursday, 18th May 2023, held at Columba College, Dunedin, for the Lower South Island Preliminary;

Sunday, 21st May 2023, held at the University of Canterbury, Central Lecture Theatres, for the Upper South Island Preliminary;

Sunday, 28th May 2023held at the University of Canterbury, Central Lecture Theatres, for the South Island final.

Winners of the national competition will participate in the International Speech Competition. For more information about the competition and how to enter, please see the links below:

2023 Notice for Senior and Junior Categories

2023 Notice for Tertiary Students Category



For more information, please contact Yujia Song:

Phone: 02040614720

New Zealand Principals' Delegation to China

New Zealand Principals' Delegation to China returns for 2024!

Every year the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury (CIUC) organises a delegation to China for school leaders. The delegation is an opportunity for school leaders to learn about China and experience the culture first-hand. Schools are expected to cover the cost of the flights to and from China, but Huazhong University of Science and Technology covers all expenses incurred within China.

In 2024, CIUC is delighted to announce the return of the New Zealand Principals' Delegation to China, which will take place from Saturday, 6 April – Friday, 19 April 2024.

Closing Date: The application form with accompanying attachments must be completed by 5:00 pm Friday, 10th of November 2023 and submitted via email to

For more information, please contact Janet (Qianhua) Yu

Email: or

Phone: 03 369 3383

  1. Principals' delegates general information notice
  2. CIUC 2024 Principals' Delegation Application Form

News about the 2019 Principals' Delegation to China?

The NZ South Island Principals’ Delegation to China completed its eleven days’ tour and returned to New Zealand on the 19th of April, 2019. The principals’ delegation consisted of principals and deputy principals from three South Island schools and leaders from the University of Canterbury.

During their stay in China, the principals visited Beijing, Wuhan and Shanghai, experiencing the extensive Chinese history and culture, as well as the rapid development of the Chinese economy.

After a short stay in Beijing, the principals stayed in Wuhan where Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) is located, the university in China partnered with the University of Canterbury to deliver the Confucius Institute.  The delegations paid a visit to the Primary School and Middle School affiliated to HUST respectively. They also visited one of the top schools in the region, Huanggang High School. The principals had an opportunity to talk face-to-face with students and staff in these schools and learned a significant amount about the fundamentals of the Chinese educational system. During the trip, members of the delegation were given the opportunity to appreciate not only China’s significant achievements but also the challenges that presently confront China, some of which are particularly relevant to education practitioners in New Zealand.

The delegation explored some famous historical sites during their three days in Beijing. For most of the principals, this was their first experience of China. They were deeply impressed by the scope and grandeur of the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and Beihai Park. The delegation expressed their sincere thanks CIUC and HUST for organising this significant trip as well as offering support to their students at home for their study of the Chinese language and culture.

After this China trip, all the principals said that China is very different from what they expected before they came and now they have a better understanding of China and Chinese people.  They returned to New Zealand with a commitment to ensure that Chinese be taught in their schools and they all expected that there would be greater cooperation in the future between the Chinese and NZ schools.

Chinese Tea House 中国茶坊

A cup of tea, and a relaxed chat …

Chinese Tea House is a programme offered by the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury. It is a Chinese corner for all UC staff and students as well as the general public of Christchurch city to practice Chinese language and experience Chinese culture. CI staff and volunteers who are native speakers of Chinese will host and organise the tea house. People interested in the Chinese language and culture are welcome to attend.

For more information please contact Jingying Zhao at


Tai Chi Classes for Beginners

Tai Chi, or Taijiquan in Chinese, is an outstanding gem of traditional Chinese culture that is valuable in promoting health, developing energy, and improving concentration and overall well-being. The Confucius Institute at UC offers evening classes in Tai Chi.

CIUC is delighted to once again welcome a Tai Chi teacher, Ms Candice Wang, to teach classes on campus and offer workshops in South Island schools in 2023.

For more information please email

Exciting news! The CIUC Culture Camp in China is back for 2024!  

The Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury is delighted to annouce the Culture Camp to China is resuming from 2024!  

Every year, we organise a culture camp for students of Chinese language to visit and experience China! This amazing opportunity will take you to some famous landmarks, enable you to practice your Chinese whilst learning more language, and give you the chance to spend time with a Chinese family.  If this sounds like something you would be interested in, talk to your Chinese teacher who can provide you with more information about this incredible opportunity.

CIUC 2024 Culture Camp in China Information

CIUC 2024 Application form for Students

CIUC 2024 Application for Schools

CIUC 2024 Application form for Supervisors

For more information about the camp, please contact:
Jodie Martin, CIUC Project Coordinator
Phone: 03 369 2485

The Calligraphy Competition

The Calligraphy Competition is organised by the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury and is open to all Aotearoa New Zealand school students and Tertiary institutions. Both native and non-native speakers of Chinese are welcome to enter. Winning entries are collected and published by CIUC in book form.

Registration Form for the 14th Aotearoa NZ Chinese Calligraphy Competition 2023

Competition entries are due by 23 June 2023. Please send the Calligraphy work and Registration Form to



Registration Method

The calligraphy competition is open to both online group registration and individual registration. Participants can register as a group at their school or as an individual.

Submission Requirements

The calligraphy competition accepts both hard and soft brush calligraphy works in any style and with content of your choice. Participants are encouraged to choose poems, songs or blessings that represent traditional Chinese culture.

Tournament Progress

Submission deadline: 2023.6.23

Judging time: early July 2023

Announcement of winners: August 2023

Award ceremony and prize distribution: October 2023


The calligraphy competition includes both hard and soft pens, and is divided into primary, secondary and tertiary groups according to the age of the participants, which are subdivided into native and non-native speakers, with a total of 12 groups, each with first, second, third and merit prizes.


Student individual online registration formGoogle Docs Registration Form

School group registration form: Group Registration Form for Schools

Hard Pen worksheet2023 Hard pen grid

Soft Pen Calligraphy Paper Application:  Please send an email with your address and the number of students participating to, and the calligraphy paper will be sent to you.

Link for the 2022 Collection: The 13th Calligraphy Collection



For more information, contact Jingying Zhao:

Phone: +64 3 3691494