29 May 2014

Sign language board to be set up

7:59 am on 29 May 2014

A New Zealand Sign Language Board with two deaf Maori representatives will be set up before the end of the year with funding announced in the Budget.

The Government has committed $6 million to promote and maintain Te Reo Rotarota, or sign language, over four years as part of this year's Budget.

The advisory board will be made up of 10 people, who will be charged with developing a three-year action plan which will include ways to promote education, and access for deaf Maori to interpreter standards.

Appointments will be sought later in the year, with the expectation of people being appointed to the new board by December.

Sign language interpreter Stephanie Awheto said she hoped the board would have similar powers to the Maori Language Commission and that it would promote and monitor Te Reo Rotarota.

Minister for Disability Issues Tarinana Turia said a big question was how they would help tangata turi - deaf Maori - to stay connected with their culture.

Many deaf Maori had been denied access to their culture because they were taken as children from their whanau to attend schools for deaf people.

Ms Turia said one way to assist tangata turi would be to develop more trilingual intrepreters - people who were skilled in english, Maori and New Zealand sign language.

However, there were only two trilingual experts in the country and it was impossible to expect those intrepreters to be available in all Marae settings.