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About New Zealand Sign Language Week

What is New Zealand Sign Language?

New Zealand Sign Language is the natural language of Deaf New Zealanders and is used daily by more than 20,000 Kiwis.  It became an official language in April 2006, with the passing of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006.

NZSL is a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and body movements.  Rather than simply being a signed representation of spoken English, NZSL is a separate language, with its own structure and grammar.

What is New Zealand Sign Language Week?

Each May, Deaf Aotearoa runs New Zealand Sign Language Week, celebrating this beautiful and unique language.  NZSL Week raises awareness of New Zealand’s Deaf community and provides a platform for Deaf people to proudly promote their language and culture.

Deaf Aotearoa staff and volunteers work in partnership with other Deaf community groups and organisations to hold events around the country during NZSL Week.  Some of those events give Deaf people a chance to access mainstream events, like theatre or local attractions, in NZSL.  Others, like the hundreds of NZSL Taster Classes on offer, give all New Zealanders a chance to meet Deaf people and learn some NZSL.

NZSL Week also recognises and celebrates the heroes of NZSL and the Deaf community, with the NZSL Awards.

What's Deaf Aotearoa?

Deaf Aotearoa is a national organisation representing the voice of Deaf people, and the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand.

Deaf Aotearoa works closely with Deaf communities, government agencies and other organisations to increase awareness, promote NZSL and strengthen the rights of Deaf people.

Deaf Aotearoa is the New Zealand representative of the World Federation of the Deaf.