Our writing style

The basics of how we write for the Oranga Tamariki website.

Use plain language

The importance of plain language is recognised in New Zealand's Plain Language Act 2022. This Act aims to improve the effectiveness and accountability of government organisations, and to improve accessibility.

Plain Language Act 2022

Read the guidance below about how to write using plain language.


We use:

  • plain, conversational language
  • contractions, such as you’re, it’s, we’ll, can’t, isn’t
  • the active voice, where possible - for example, the present tense, avoid ing/ed word endings particularly in bulleted lists as these are passive
  • you’ and ‘your’ when talking to you
  • 'we' when talking about Oranga Tamariki
  • respectful, gender-neutral language
  • NZ English, not American English ('organise' not 'organize' - 'centre' not 'center')


 Writing needs to be: 

  • human
  • helpful 
  • credible 

Make content easy to read and scan

To do this:

  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short – 3 lines for a sentence is too long. Remember, one idea per sentence.
  • Use short/conversational words, such as ‘use’ not ‘utilise’; 'help’ not ‘assist’ or ‘assistance’.
  • Avoid jargon or PR speak - for example, journey, reach out, learnings, deep dive and so on.
  • Add frequent, descriptive headings – these need to be meaningful and not just to break up text.
  • Break text up with bullet points if there are several points of equal weighting, or create a list.
  • Use descriptive headings.
  • Put links on their own line.

Use of te reo Māori

We use:

  • macrons correctly in text and in headings
  • 'tamariki' when referring to children (for singular we use 'tamaiti')
  • 'tamariki Māori' when referring specifically to Māori children
  • 'rangatahi' - when referring to teenagers or young adults (this word can be used in the singular and plural)
  • 'Whānau or family'
  • 'Aotearoa New Zealand'
  • 'tamariki' not ‘our tamariki'
  • the word Māori with an upper case M
  • we don't add 's' to the end of Māori words to indicate possession (for example: The plan for tamariki — not: tamariki's plan)

We use ReoAko which allows us to weave te reo Māori into our website in a seamless way. The tool displays the English definition and pronunciation of kupu Māori in a clickable window so it doesn’t interfere with the reading experience of people who don’t need the translation, but it’s available unobtrusively for people who do need it.

Some iwi use double vowels instead of a single vowel with a macron (so whānau can also be written as whaanau without the tohutō) so words with double vowels may be seen across the website.

On top level landing pages, the page names are written in both English and te reo Māori (for example: Working with children).

Word limits

  • Page names should be no more than 55 characters long
  • Page summaries should be no more than 255 characters long

Published: June 29, 2023