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HomenewsCultureCelebrating New Zealand Sign Language Week

Celebrating New Zealand Sign Language Week

May 6-May 12 is New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week. It is organized each year Deaf Aotearoa, a national organization representing the voice of Deaf people in New Zealad. The theme for this year is “My Language My Place”.

NZSL is an official language of New Zealand, and is used daily by more than 20,000 Kiwis. Rather than simply being a signed representation of spoken English, NZSL is a separate language, with its own structure and grammar. To celebrate NZSL week, Parliament will feature NZSL interpretation during the Speaker’s daily briefing videos and question time during the week. The briefings can be viewed on the Parliament website, Facebook page, or on Parliament TV.

NZSL became an official language of New Zealand in 2006 when the NZSL Act was passed into law, and the next year in 2006, Deaf Aotearoa organized the first NZSL Week, making this this 13th year celebrating NZSL Week.

The 2019 theme “My Language, My Place” aims to be a reflection on the unique value of NZSL to New Zealand. NZSL has developed in New Zealand, for New Zealanders, and can be used to express concepts unique to New Zealand, such as Māori concepts and local place names. In 2017/8, the NZSL online dictionary uploaded hundreds of place name signs, so all New Zealanders are able to access and learn signs for their home towns.

Another feature of NZSL Week is the Leaders challenge, which challenges community leaders throughout the country who don’t know NZSL to learn and sign a brief message to show their support for NZSL Week. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was one of the first leaders to take up the challenge.

Here are some NZSL Events going on this Week:

NZSL Week Events:

Northland NZSLW Events

Auckland NZSLW Events

Waikato NZSLW Events

Bay of Plenty NZSLW Events

Taranaki NZSLW Events

Hawkes Bay NZSLW Events

Manawatu NZSLW Events

Wellington NZSLW Events

Nelson NZSLW Events

Canterbury NZSLW Events

Otago and Southland NZSLW Events

Resources, including flyers and booklets for NZSL Week can be found here:

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