Promotion and Maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language

In 2006, the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Act was passed, making NZSL an official language of New Zealand. The Office for Disability Issues, as a secretariat, supports the NZSL Board to effectively promote and maintain NZSL.

New Zealand Sign Language Board

The purpose of the NZSL Board is to promote and maintain NZSL by ensuring the development, preservation and acquisition of the language, and to provide expert advice to government and the community on NZSL.

NZSL Board group

Top row: Shona Jones, Bridget Ferguson, Dr Rachel McKee, Lee Bullivant, Dr Kirsten Smiler. Bottom row: Chris Blum, Richard Peri, Victoria Manning (Chair), Sara Pivac Alexander, Josje Lelijveld

NZSL Board Action Plan 2016-2018

The NZSL Board Action Plan, released March 2016, represents a critical step towards the promotion and maintenance of NZSL, and in the advancement of Deaf people by progressing five priorities.

New Zealand Sign Language Fund

The NZSL Fund invests in projects that develop and enhance the abilities, access, and rights of the core NZSL community.

Using NZSL Interpreters

Find out how to book and pay for NZSL interpreters, and more information about working with Deaf people, in the online guide:

New Zealand Sign Language videos

In this section are some video clips in NZSL with information of interest to Deaf people.

New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006

In 2006, the NZSL Act was passed, making NZSL an official language of New Zealand. Find out more about NZSL Act 2006, its development and the review.


If you have questions about our work on the promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language, please email

What's been happening

Government Media Releases

Inquiry into captioning in New Zealand - 2 June 2016
Hon Ruth Dyson, Chairperson of the Government Administration Committee announced today that the Government Administration Committee has initiated an inquiry into captioning in New Zealand.

Deaf-inclusive New Zealand - 15 May 2016
A summary of progress made by the Ministry of Education and its partners on Deaf education since 2013. View the 7 minute video on YouTube.

Minister welcomes New Zealand Sign Language Week - 11 May 2016
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner encourages all New Zealanders to take part in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week to celebrate one of the country’s official languages and its role in developing a strong Deaf community.

New video interpreting service launched - 10 May 2016
Communications Minister Amy Adams has marked New Zealand Sign Language Week by announcing a new Video Interpreting Service for deaf and hearing impaired New Zealanders.

10th anniversary of New Zealand Sign Language Week - 10 May 2016
Education Minister Hekia Parata today met with the New Zealand Sign Language Advisory Group and the visiting World Federation of the Deaf Board to mark Sign Language Awareness Week.

Deaf community celebrates 10 years of NZSL Week - 9 May 2016
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is an official language of our country, and is celebrated every May during NZSL Week. This week, the Ministry of Education joins the Deaf community in marking 10 years since the passing of the NZSL Act 2006.

New Zealand Sign Language celebrates 10th anniversary - 5 April 2016
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner says New Zealand can be proud of its achievements in supporting the Deaf community as it prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of New Zealand Sign Language as an official language.

NZSL Board News

Deaf Studies Award for Māori Deaf - Open now! - 14 September 2016
This one-off award is from the New Zealand Sign Language Board. The Board wants to support four Māori Deaf people get a Certificate in Deaf Studies: Teaching NZSL at Victoria University of Wellington. Apply today!!

Notice of pending work on Action 3C: Explore options to develop and implement an NZSL Online Hub - 29 June 2016
The research project will ascertain how an NZSL Online Hub could assist in creating a stronger, sustainable NZSL community with increased numbers of potential signers and connections between signers.

Advance Notice of a contract opportunity - NZSL Interpreting Standards - 30 May 2016
The NZSL Interpreting Standards project will create an up-to-date status report on NZSL interpreting in New Zealand, and recommend options for the development of interpreter standards.

Minister's Release of Sign Language Action Plan marks milestone - March 2016
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner says the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Board Action Plan, released today, outlines the Board’s priorities for the promotion and maintenance of NZSL.

Release of NZSL Board Action Plan 2016-2018 - March 2016
The Plan focuses action on where the NZSL Board can add value as an expert national voice on NZSL. This includes where the NZSL Board can undertake work that highlights persistent or emerging challenges and gaps; and complement work already underway by government agencies.

Announcement: Public consultation on the NZSL Action Plan - October 2015
The NZSL Board would like your feedback on their priorities and actions, and invites you to attend one of their ten community meetings being held in October 2015.

The NZSL Board makes plans to consult with the NZSL community - 14 September 2015
The focus of the NZSL Board’s third meeting was to finalise the draft three year action plan based on initial discussion at the last meeting on 10 August 2015, and to confirm the consultation process with the NZSL community.

Developing the NZSL Board's three year action plan - 10 August 2015
The NZSL Board met for the second time on 10 August 2015 in Wellington.

NZSL Fund News

Free e-learning resources being developed for NZSL learners – 13 July 2017
Victoria University Deaf Studies Research Unit was granted funding to develop a free online suite of interactive exercises for NZSL learners in the first round of the NZSL Fund.

Signs: A Deaf script development workshop - 31 May 2016
An opportunity for members of the Deaf community to create a new theatre script with some of New Zealand's leading Deaf and hearing writers, storytellers, and directors.

NZSL in Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Programme - 13 May 2016
We are so pleased to be able to announce the establishment of a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) mentoring programme – this announcement can be viewed in NZSL in the video below.

NZSL content offers Deaf community better legal information - 12 May 2016
The Deaf community will have better access to information about their legal rights thanks to an initiative by Auckland Disability Law (ADL), part of the Community Law network.

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week 2015 - February 2016
Deaf Aotearoa received $350,000 from the NZSL Fund to support NZSL Week 2015, the biggest NZSL event of the year.

Deaf Interpreting in New Zealand - January 2016
Connect Interpreting was awarded funding for their Deaf Interpreting: Pathways to Qualification (Workshop) project in the first round of the NZSL Fund.

New Zealand Deaf Film Festival a roaring success - December 2015
One of the initiatives funded through the NZSL Fund's first round was the New Zealand Deaf Film Festival, which was held in 2015. You can find out more on the Festival on this page.

Read the Minister's announcement on the NZSL Fund round two - September 2015
The next round of the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Fund opens for applications today, Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner has announced.