Home > Article from newspaper, Videos > New Zealand Sign Language Week (7-13 May 2007)

New Zealand Sign Language Week (7-13 May 2007)

May 8, 2007

The Purpose of New Zealand Sign Language Week (7-13 May 2007):

“To raise awareness that New Zealand Sign Language is now our
3rd Official Language and recognised as part of New Zealand’s culture!”

The Butterfly
The official NZSL logo features the ‘butterfly’ symbol chosen because the some butterflies are Deaf. Like Butterflies, Deaf people make more use of their eyes. They also use their body & hands to feel vibrations. Butterflies are free, independent and liberated, Sign Language allows Deaf people to be free and independent also.

What is sign language?
Sign Language is a language of hand shapes, facial expressions, and movements used as a form of communication. It is different to other communication systems such as gestures and hand signals. It is not mime or gesture, as is used by professional artists. It is a visual-gestural language which follows its own grammar structure with rules for sentence structure. Ideas are conveyed by hand shapes, facial expressions and body language.

New Zealand Sign Language
There are different Sign languages for nearly every country in the world. New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the natural language of the Deaf community in New Zealand. It was developed in New Zealand, by and for Deaf New Zealanders. NZSL uniquely reflects the culture of the country. NZSL has signs for Maori terminology & concepts, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

To communicate effectively in correct grammar, NZSL incorporates:
1. Facial expressions
2. Body movement
3. Hand shape
4. Hand position
5. Hand movement

Deaf people
The majority of Deaf people (90%) are born to hearing parents and therefore do not acquire Sign Language as a mother tongue. They acquire Sign Language at school from peers. Sign Language is the first language of the majority of deaf children. About 10% of Deaf children are born to Deaf parents and these children acquire Sign Language as a mother tongue. The capital letter D is used in Deaf as Deaf culture is quite unique. The Deaf see themselves as a separate cultural group within the overall national culture – just as Maori do, or Indians, or Chinese. So Deaf, when used as a noun, has a capital letter just as English has, or German, or French.

Why was NZSL officially recognised? Why not officially recognise other spoken languages in NZ?
New Zealand Sign Language is unique to NZ. Yes, there are a range of other languages spoken in New Zealand. These languages generally share a common feature in that they have legal status in their home countries or countries of origin. Official recognition of NZSL has provided an equality of language status with those other languages, through recognition in its home country – New Zealand.

The Sign Language Act 2006
You can access the Act online (Click on the Statutes section then click under N) at: www.legislation.govt.nz


For more information, check at www.nzsign.co.nz

  1. John M.
    May 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Interesting to watch butterfly symbol video.

  2. Trudy
    May 10, 2007 at 8:18 am

    Very excellent source for people who don’t know about sign language.

  3. June 4, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Jim. Photos i received. Thanks

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