12 May 2014

Maori making its mark on sign language

6:33 am on 12 May 2014

A New Zealand Sign Language expert says the need for more Maori gestures in sign language is increasing, as more deaf Maori start feeling included in Te Ao Maori, or the Maori "world".

Dr Rachel McKee.


Dr Rachel McKee of Victoria University said since the arrival of sign language interpreters in New Zealand in the mid-1990s, deaf Maori people have had more access to tikanga Maori domains, such as the marae.

She said tangata turi (deaf people) were having to come up with more gestures that expressed words or concepts in Te Ao Maori.

Dr McKee said now deaf Maori were feeling a bit more able to go to hui, or wananga, or places where Te Reo was being spoken. She said people working along side them as interpreters needed vocabulary to be able to articulate some of the things that are particular to te reo Maori.

Dr McKee said like spoken language, sign language would keep on evolving and would include more Maori gestures as deaf Maori became more comfortable with including Maori concepts.