NZ sign language prioritises Te Reo

By Talisa Kupenga

The deaf community is taking steps to include Te Reo Māori in NZ Sign Language. This year The NZ Sign Language Interpreters' Association will focus on Te Ao Māori to further develop Māori concepts and incorporate them into NZ Sign. They held their annual conference this weekend at Orakei marae.

This sign language tutor is teaching Māori concepts to members of the deaf community.

Mita Moses (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai), "This is the first time they've ever had a conference on a marae. So I think it's really good to see that they're proud and we're proud to offer this to them so they can see and learn about Maori tikanga and protocol."

Moses says in the past, Māori members of the deaf community have not always felt welcome on the marae.

Moses says, "Māori deaf people were shoved aside and weren't ever welcome into the wharenui or have the kaumatua welcome us or anything like that. Deaf people would always sit at the back, in the corner or go into the kitchen and peel the potatoes and it was always like that, no support no communication, nothing absolutely nothing."

Moses hopes attitudes will change moving forward because this year a new marae will open at Kelston Deaf Education Centre.

"So this year we'll be opening the marae in September and Ruaumoko marae is open for everyone to come in for the youngsters, which is where we work and we teach, this marae is for them to teach them sign language so that they can go home and have access to their tikanga and build up their confidence," says Moses.