NZSL Board: Questions and Answers

On this page, you will find answers to common questions about the NZSL Board, including information on its policies.

NZSL video: NZSL Board - Questions and Answers

What is the composition of the NZSL Board and how is it determined?

The Terms of Reference for the Board specify its composition. The NZSL Board has up to 10 members in total, all of whom are NZSL users, and a majority of members are Deaf NZSL users. The current NZSL Board members are:

  • Victoria Manning (Chair) - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Bridget Ferguson (Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand representative) - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Richard Peri - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Dr Rachel McKee - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Lee Bullivant - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Chris Blum - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Rhian Yates - Term ends 1 August 2021
  • Daniel Hanks - Term ends 1 August 2021
  • David Brown - Term ends 1 August 2021

Further information on current and past members can be found at

What processes are used to appoint the current members?

A nomination round closed May 2018 seeking members to replace five of the founding members of the NZSL Board, whose three-year term ends June 2018.

A selection panel of three members convened by the Office for Disability Issues and chaired by Brian Coffey (Director, Office for Disability Issues with a representative from the NZSL Board and an individual from the Deaf community) to provide advice to the Minister for Disability Issues.

The panel reviewed applications and conducted interviews with some nominees to develop a short-list of nominees. When making their recommendations to the Minister, the selection panel considered the expectations of members’ skills and experience set out in the NZSL Board’s Terms of Reference and made their recommendations accordingly.

Once the Minister had agreed with the Selection Panel’s recommendations, they were discussed by the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH) and the appointments were confirmed after the following Cabinet meeting.

The process used to select the appointees was consistent with the provisions of the NZSL Board’s Terms of Reference, and within the State Services Commission’s Board Appointment and Induction Guidelines.

Why does the Government make the final decision on appointments to the NZSL Board?

This reflects the important role of the NZSL Board and the importance of Board membership.  The membership of many other important Boards is covered by the same Government process.

How will the views of other NZSL users be heard by the NZSL Board?

The Board’s Terms of Reference contains an expectation that it will consult with experts from outside of the NZSL Board, from time to time, to ensure that broad perspectives regarding NZSL issues are achieved. The panel believes that expectation means that all sectors of the NZSL community will have a voice within the NZSL Board.

How long is the term for NZSL Board members?

The first members of the NZSL Board were appointed for terms of three or four years from the date of appointment in order to provide for staged turnover of members. The standard term for future board members is three years.

The next round of nominations will open early next year. The terms of six members will end on 1 June 2019.

I applied for the NZSL Board, but was unsuccessful. What should I do to improve my chances of being appointed to the NZSL Board in the future?

Everyone’s situation is different of course, but the selection panel’s observation was the pool of suitable candidates with the required skills and experience in the NZSL community is small and it experienced difficulty in ensuring diversity amongst the nominees.

It was noted that many nominees would benefit by obtaining more experience in governance roles in particular where their role focused on strategic oversight of an organisation.

The existing NZSL Board currently has one Māori board member. A Māori perspective will always be important in Board decision making as diversity of membership and perspectives is important to making effective Board decisions.  As we move through to the 2019 refresh of NZSL Board membership it will be important ensure that diversity of membership is promoted and maintained.

The Office for Disability Issues will explore options to provide training and mentoring to the NZSL community so that potential candidates are in a good position to be considered in the next appointment round.

Why are there currently four people employed by Deaf Aotearoa appointed to the Board?

Members of the board serve as individuals in an independent role and do not represent Deaf Aotearoa. They are appointed to the NZSL Board based on their knowledge and experience of NZSL. It is worth noting that Deaf Aotearoa employs a large number of highly skilled and experienced users of NZSL and is the largest organisation working in the NZSL community so it is anticipated that there will always be NZSL Board members who are employees of Deaf Aotearoa.

The Board’s Conflict of Interest policy manages this situation well. Currently there are four Board members employed by the NZSL Board which meant that, to maintain the balance of Board membership it would have been difficult if we increased the number of Deaf Aotearoa employees on the new NZSL Board. If the number of NZSL Board members connected to Deaf Aotearoa reduces in 2019 when the NZSL Board appointment process occurs, suitable candidates are encouraged to apply.

Only one member, Bridget Ferguson, represents Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand on the NZSL Board and that representation acknowledges Deaf Aotearoa’s status as a Disabled Peoples Organisation representing Deaf people.

Why are some NZSL Board members whose term ended in 2018 still on the NZSL Board?

Serving for a second consecutive period is permissible under the NZSL Board’s Terms of Reference: “Any member may sit on the NZSL Board for a maximum of two terms consecutively.”

Those members applied to continue on the NZSL Board and were considered alongside new applications for the NZSL Board. They have been retained because of their skills and knowledge and their ability to continue to positively contribute to the work of the NZSL Board.

Why do I have to be fluent in NZSL to be on the NZSL Board?

NZSL Board meetings are conducted fully in NZSL so it would be difficult to fully participate and contribute to the work of the Board if a member is not sufficiently fluent in NZSL.

What is the role of the Office for Disability Issues?

The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) provides secretariat support to the NZSL Board. The NZSL Board often seeks advice from ODI to inform Board discussions and decisions.

Does the NZSL Board have a governance policy, and what is its process for the management of conflict of interest?

The key document that outlines the roles and function of the NZSL Board is the Terms of Reference . The other key documents are the NZSL Board’s policies. As the NZSL Board develops policies, information about them will be published here on this page.

Because the Deaf community is relatively small, the NZSL Board has a Conflicts of Interest Policy, that ensures that NZSL Board members do not participate in decision making when the decision may advantage person(s) or organisations with which the members is closely associate. The NZSL Board's Terms of Reference (point 33-35) also specifies how the NZSL Board is required to manage conflicts of interest.

Does the NZSL Board Have a Conflict of Interest policy?


Read or download the NZSL Board's conflict of interest policy by following this link [DOCX, 146 KB]

Does the NZSL Board have a complaints policy?

Yes, the NZSL Board has a complaints policy. The purpose of this policy, last updated December 2017, is to describe the NZSL Board's processes for managing complaints:

  • Complaints about the NZSL Board. The NZSL Board's policy outlines the Board's processes for responding to complaints about the NZSL Board.
  • Complaints about other organisations. The NZSL Board has determined that it is not the role of the NZSL Board to respond to complaints about other organisations. If the Board receives a complaint about other organisation, the Board will refer the complainant to discuss their issue directly with the organisation they are concerned about.


NZSL Board - Questions and Answers

Tell us what you think

Page last updated: