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Horomia: 2nd National Hui for Maori Deaf 2005

Hon Parekura Horomia

Minister of Mäori Affairs

4 November 2005 Speech notes

Te Hui Tuarua Ngati Turi mai i nga hau e wha

2nd National Hui for Maori Deaf 2005


Ngāti Whātua, ngā turi rangatira o Aotearoa, ladies and gentlemen, tēnā tātau katoa.

Congratulations on the first evening of your second national hui. It is great to be here to share your celebration of 12 years of dedication, hard work and energy.

A hearing disability is sometimes called the ‘invisible disability’. Invisible it may be, but it is certainly not uncommon. The 2001 disability survey found that hearing disability is the third most common disability type, behind impairments of mobility and agility.

An estimated 212,000 adults, or 8% of all adults in households, had some kind of hearing disability. The incidence rises with age: a third of all men and a quarter of all women were estimated to have a hearing disability in the 2001 survey.

Hearing loss is an important issue that impacts our mokopuna, tamariki and whānau.

The 2000 Census data for children under 19 show Māori to be 19% of the population, and in 2001 they were 48% of the deafness notifications. In fact hearing disability was the most common disability in Māori 15 – 24 years, 3.5 times more than non-Māori.

As you may know, my colleague Ruth Dyson as Minister for Disability Issues, has responsibility for the New Zealand Disability Strategy, our government’s strategy for an inclusive society where all New Zealanders have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to their communities.

The Disability Strategy uses the societal model of disability, recognising that while people may have impairments, society constructs the barriers that can prevent their participation.

Removing the barriers is what the Disability Strategy aims to do.

It was when I met Patrick Thompson who was then the Māori Services Manager for the Deaf Association, that I became aware of the depth of support required from the Māori Deaf Community for them to access te reo Māori and te ao Māori.

In response we recently supported the appointment of a special advisor to Ruamoko Marae, to complete a strategic plan for the Māori Deaf Community in west and wider Tāmaki.

I know you face many challenges. I also know that these challenges include the:

- need for Māori kaupapa driven service providers who are focused on the needs of your community. I acknowledge assistance that the Tāmaki office contributed to key agencies that support our deaf community.

- need to develop Māori Sign Language for the use and benefit of the Māori Deaf Community.

We must acknowledge the work of key groups who are forwarding and spearheading these challenges being at the forefront of people’s awareness.

My ministry has been working with two of these key groups - Te Roopu Waiora and Māori Trilingual Interpreters.

Te Roopu Waiora addresses the needs of the disabled Māori Community including the Deaf. Through their work they found that service provision for disabled Māori was inconsistent and decentralised. In response Te Puni Kōkiri has provided assistance towards creating a new model of service provision for disabled Māori.

The Māori Trilingual Interpreters enhance the capability of the Māori Deaf Community within the Waitakere - Tāmaki Makaurau region.

I am heartened by the possibilities that will be created from the work of Te Roopu Waiora and the Māori Trilingual Interpreters, particularly for our rangatahi and whānau.

I'm also pleased to be able to report that The New Zealand Sign Language Bill, which seeks to give official recognition to New Zealand Sign Language, continues to progress through the House. Public submissions were made during November 2004 and February 2005, with Deaf New Zealanders presenting their submissions either in person or through a video link to Parliament.

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee have reported back to Parliament and I'm confident the Bill will be passed in the coming months. It's passing will recognise New Zealand Sign as an official language in New Zealand, and it will provide for the use of New Zealand Sign within the justice system. This will make an enormous difference to Deaf New Zealanders who are currently unable to use their first language in courts and tribunals.

New Zealand’s Deaf community has had a long and sometimes difficult struggle. It is extraordinarily heartening for me to anticipate the success of the Bill and the impact it will have on people like you.

Likewise, I, like you am looking forward to the opportunities that this National Māori Deaf Conference holds for our Deaf community.

Nā reira, kia kaha, kia toa, kia māia!


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