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NZ First Applauds Maori Sign Language Initiative

May 23, 2002

NZ First applauds the initiative in the budget to train more Maori-sign language interpreters. The government has set aside $225,000 for this purpose.

There is a serious lack of people skilled in both te reo and sign language. Until recently there was only one Maori signer in New Zealand. Maori who suffer hearing impairment have therefore been excluded from participation in their fundamental cultural activities.

“I recently attended a powhiri in which a whaikorero and waiata were delivered in sign language,” says NZ First education spokesperson, Brian Donnelly. “It was a moving experience because it was the first time the speaker had ever been able to actively participate in the activities. It was only possible because a te reo sign language interpreter was able to convey the speaker’s message.”

“NZ First believes that the money set aside in the Budget for this purpose of enabling people to more fully participate in their society is worthy public expenditure,” said Mr Donnelly.


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