NZSL Act consultation underway

Consultation on potential changes to the NZSL Act has begun. The potential amendments to the Act will take account of the changes that have happened in the years since 2006.

These include New Zealand ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, the NZSL Board being established in 2015, and the NZSL Strategy 2018-2023 being launched.

The proposed amendments aim to:

  • strengthen the mandate for public leadership of the Deaf community, with the NZSL Board becoming a statutory Ministerial advisory group
  • create a mechanism to monitor the operation and implementation of the Act, and
  • better reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Giving the NZSL Board statutory status would align its more closely with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori – Māori Language Commission to provide a more consistent approach to community leadership for our two official languages.

For many in the Deaf community NZSL is their primary means of communication. Use of NZSL is vital for Deaf people to communicate and participate in New Zealand communities. Language is much more than a mode of communication. Research tells us and the Deaf community tells us that sign language, identity, culture and well-being are inextricably linked.

There are approximately 23,000 NZSL users in New Zealand, of whom more than 4000 are Deaf.

We have information on the consultation in NZSL, and you have the option to share their views in NZSL or in English. 

There's also options for people in the Deaf community to attend in-person meetings. These will be in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington and will be held primarily in NZSL. There will also be three in-person hui for Turi Māori and their whānau about how the NZSL Act could better reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and support the leadership of Turi Māori.

Consultation is open until 11 November 2022. A Bill to amend the NZSL Act is expected to be introduced into Parliament in June 2023. 

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