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HBDHB’s Interpreting Service

11 March 2006

HBDHB’s Interpreting Service “listening, talking, translating” for over ten years

In 1996 Hawke’s Bay become the second hospital in New Zealand to establish an interpreting service. Ten years later the service, while coordinated by the DHB, is self-funding, and supports the translation of 34 languages to patients and their families in hospital and to community users such as Police and the courts.

Ten years ago the new service recruited and trained people who spoke two or more languages and in that first year delivered 39 interpreting assignments primarily in Samoan, Punjabi and New Zealand Sign Language.

Today the Interpreting Service delivers over 300 assignments annually and these days languages in demand are predominantly Arabic and Samoan.

And says Sigi Ziegler, HBDHB’s interpreting service coordinator “Interpreters provide a vital service to people, during what is often a stressful and anxious time in their lives, with professional, confidential, impartial and unbiased assistance.”

With the increasingly multi-national character of New Zealand society the rights of non-English speakers to effective communication is also embodied in legislation such as the health and disability sector Code of Rights. HBDHB’s Interpreting Service currently has 79 interpreters on its books and while it performs an invaluable service locally is also involved in facilitating the training of interpreters nationally.


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