NZSL Act Consultation 2022

Consultation on potential changes to the NZSL Act 2006.

The New Zealand Sign Language Board fully endorses the review of the NZSL Act and recommended the review in its 2019 annual report to the Minister for Disability Issues.


The Ministry for Social Development (MSD) and the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) are talking with the Deaf community to understand their views on some ideas for changing the NZSL Act. We are also interested in feedback from the wider community.

Consultation on possible changes to the NZSL Act closes on 11 November 2022.

There are three ways you can provide feedback:

Information on the meetings and ideas can be found in this discussion document which you can download [PDF, 3.5 MB]. An HTML version of this document will be online shortly. 


Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People

  • Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People is a new ministry set up to work in partnership with disabled people and Māori to improve their lives.
  • Whaikaha plans to implement the Enabling Good Lives approach, which aims to give disabled people and their families more choice, control and flexibility in their lives.
  • The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) is in Whaikaha. The Deaf community meetings will be led by the NZSL team which is part of ODI. 
  • You can find more information about Whaikaha on the Whaikaha website .

 The NZSL Act

  • In 2006, the NZSL Act became law.
  • The purpose of the NZSL Act is to:
    • promote and maintain the language by declaring it an official language
    • provide for the use of NZSL in legal proceedings
    • allow the making of regulations setting competency standards for the interpretation of NZSL in legal proceedings
    • state principles to guide government agencies in the promotion and use of NZSL.
  • You can find out more about the NZSL Act here and find information about the Act principles here.

Why change the NZSL Act?

  • The NZSL Act could be changed to strengthen Deaf community leadership of the maintenance, promotion, and acquisition of NZSL.
  • The NZSL Act can be changed to better align with:
    • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD)
    • the establishment of the NZSL Board in 2015
    • the development of the NZSL Strategy 2018-2023.
  • We have also heard that the NZSL Act should address the Government’s responsibilities as a Te Tiriti Waitangi partner, specifically in relation to Turi Māori.

The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill

  • The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill establishes a new system that aims to provide a way for the New Zealand Government to address accessibility barriers that prevent Deaf and disabled people, tāngata whaikaha and their families or whānau, and others with accessibility needs from living independently and participating in all areas of life.
  • The Bill creates a new leadership structure including an Accessibility Committee led by disabled people and tāngata whaikaha and their families or whānau.
  • The best way for NZSL accessibility barriers to be addressed is through the Accessibility Committee. If the Bill becomes law, you can tell the NZSL Board about the barriers you would like to see addressed.
  • Submissions on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill are open until 7 November. You can find more information in NZSL about the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill here  and about how to submit here

Ideas to change the NZSL Act

Proposal 1: Statutory Ministerial Advisory Group

  • The NZSL Board is currently a non-statutory group because it was established by an agreement from Cabinet. The Board doesn’t have any powers in law.
  • The NZSL Board could become a statutory Ministerial advisory group under a changed NZSL Act. This would mean that the Board’s existence and functions are described in law.
  • This idea could strengthen leadership of the Deaf community as it would give more mana, status and credibility to the Board and its work.

Proposal 2: A mechanism to monitor the Act

  • Currently, there is nothing in the Act that monitors how well it is working.
  • There is a lack of information about what is working and what could be improved regarding the promotion, maintenance, and acquisition of NZSL.
    • The Act could:
      • give the Board the authority to request information from government agencies
      • require that government agencies report on actions to progress NZSL.
  • These changes could lead to:
    • more information for the Board when providing advice to the Minister of Disability Issues.
    • government agencies may work with the Deaf community more or provide more information in NZSL.

Proposal 3: Embedding Te Tiriti o Waitangi

  • The Government understands that Turi Māori would like to see Te Tiriti o Waitangi reflected in the NZSL Act and in NZSL leadership by Turi Māori.
    • Here are some examples, but we are open to hearing other ideas. These examples could be in the Act or achieved in other ways.
      • Requirements on how government and NZSL Board should act to better reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
      • Requirements on how the NZSL Board should reflect Turi Māori leadership.
      • Requirements on how the NZSL Board should reflect Turi Māori voices.

How you can have your say 

We want to hear what you think of these ideas. You can give feedback until 11 November 2022.

There are three ways you can provide feedback:

General meetings


You can attend a meeting held in NZSL, held from 7.00pm-9.00pm at:

  • Christchurch Deaf Society, 80 Fitzgerald Avenue, on Friday 23 September
  • Wellington Deaf Society, Bannister Avenue, Johnsonville, on Friday 14 October
  •  Auckland Deaf Society, 16 Hillsborough Rd, Three Kings, on Friday 4 November.

Supper will be provided. If you have any queries about these meetings, please contact

Hui for Turi Māori and whānau

If you are Turi Māori or whānau, you can attend a hui held in NZSL. This will be part of a wider Turi Māori hui with the NZSL Board and the Rōpū Kaitiaki held from 9am-5pm at:

  • Crowne Plaza Hotel, 764 Colombo Street, Christchurch, Christchurch on Saturday 24 September
  • Wellington Deaf Society, Bannister Avenue, Johnsonville, Wellington on Saturday 15 October
  • Jet Park Hotel, 63 Westney Road, Māngere, Aucklandon Saturday 5 November.

Kai will be provided. We want to help you reach these hui if you live outside the main centres. If you need help with transport or if you have any queries about these hui, please contact

Online feedback

Any New Zealander can provide feedback online. You can:

  • Email your written feedback to
  • Use this link  for feedback in NZSL.
    This link will take you to a website hosted by SeeFlow, a third party we have contracted to receive, interpret and send to us a video of you providing your feedback in NZSL. Make sure you choose "NZSL Act Feedback" for the organisation to contact. SeeFlow is supported by MSD and is free to use

    There is a time limit but you can make multiple video messages and they will be treated as one submission.

  • Please note, MSD and Whaikaha cannot guarantee the privacy and security of information you provide to SeeFlow. Please see the privacy statement on the Seeflow website for their confidentiality message.

An online feedback session is happening Thursday 3 November, 7-9pm

There will be a presentation about the NZSL Act, the proposed amendments and a chance for you to give your feedback.

Online meeting about the New Zealand Sign Language Act

We are holding an online meeting on Thursday 3 November 7pm-9pm to discuss potential changes to the NZSL Act and to hear your feedback. This will be held in NZSL with interpreters available.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 988 1940 5557
Passcode: JVcgg26TUF


If you or your group would like to attend a separate online meeting outside of these, please email For example, we could hold an online hui for Turi Māori and whānau or a meeting for Pacific families.

For any further questions or accessibility queries, please email us.

Privacy of your information

The information you give MSD and ODI will be used to understand your views about the potential amendments to the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 and inform the development of final proposals to amend the Act. Your submission will be analysed for key themes, compiled into a report and presented to Cabinet for consideration. The ODI will also publish a summary of that report on its website. The reports will contain no information that can identify you.

If you choose to attend one of the General Meetings or Hui for Turi Māori and whānau, please tell us if you wish for your contribution to remain anonymous. While we will do our best to ensure your anonymity, please note we cannot guarantee it.

Your information will be collected, held, used and disclosed by MSD in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020. You have the right to access and correct any information MSD holds about you. 

Tell us what you think

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