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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Waka Reo: National Language Policy > 2011 > October

Te Waka Reo: National Language Policy

ISSN 1178-0967 October, 2011

News & Issues

The Office for Disability Issues has published its report on the review of the New Zealand Sign Language Act.

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The review was conducted from January 2011. There was a high level of interest, with 18 community meetings attended by over 177 people and 41 written or video submissions made. In summary, during the review people said that more hearing people now know about New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). However, Government has not used as much NZSL as expected and accessing Government services, including Courts, is not always easy. The review states that “while the NZSL Act is not functioning as well as it might, this may be the result of poor practice rather than being attributable to the NZSL Act itself”.

The Minister for Disability Issues has considered suggestions - like more promotion of NZSL, improved access to interpreters in the wider justice system and more NZSL in broadcasting - and decided there is no need for change to the NZSL Act. She considers the changes suggested can be achieved without changes to the Act. The review suggests changes to implement the Act more effectively:

  1. Ministers could promote the use of NZSL by signing a greeting at the start of speeches, in a similar way to how Māori greetings are used.
  2. Ministers in charge of Crown entities that provide services could remind them that they should not discriminate or treat people badly just because they can’t hear.
  3. Government departments should make sure they use NZSL in public events they organise; have more information about their services in NZSL; know when and how to use an interpreter; ensure their service providers are trained in how to communicate with Deaf people; and report to the Office for Disability Issues annually about how many meetings with Deaf people they had and whether NZSL interpreters were used.
  4. The Ministry of Justice should increase the training of court staff so that Deaf people find it easier to use NZSL in courts.
  5. The Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Economic Development will work on how a video remote interpreting service for government departments could be set up, as a way to cope with the shortage of NZSL interpreters.

The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues will be responsible for implementing changes. Reports on progress in implementing changes will be included in the Minister for Disability Issues annual report to Parliament.

With so many Māori living in Australia, surely a strategy to promote te reo Māori should not be limited to national borders?

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The question has sparked debate on Facebook recently. Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori, Glenis Phillip-Barbara, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres and several others have added their thoughts.

How can social media best connect Māori language programmes in New Zealand and Australia? Should funding to revitalise te reo be extended to support programmes that operate in Australia? To have your say, visit the Facebook page.

It is estimated that as many as one in six Māori now live in Australia. A factsheet from Te Puni Kōkiri shows the number of Māori living in Australia has risen rapidly: in 1986 26,035 identified as Māori, 72,956 by 2001 and 92,912 by 2006. A range of formal opportunities exist for learning te reo in Australia, from preschool to adults, but skilled teachers are scarce. Many Māori in Australia feel the need to learn te reo more than they ever did in New Zealand. However, interviews and census results suggest that use and knowledge of te reo Māori in Australia has been steadily declining.

The Community Languages Association of New Zealand (CLANZ) has received a wealth of feedback on its discussion paper.

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CLANZ would like to thank those who sent in feedback. Based on that feedback, CLANZ will now develop a Community Languages Framework to promote Community Languages in New Zealand.

Feedback came from a range of organisations who are involved in community language activities and work with different ethnic groups; early childhood centres; and other members of CLANZ and the CLANZ network. Feedback identified what is needed to promote community languages:

  • formal recognition for community based schools guidelines
  • material and public support to assist those communities who want to set up community language learning programmes within or outside established education facilities
  • professional development and qualifications for teachers and administrators in community language schools.

These needs could be addressed through:

  • formal acknowledgement by the government using certification, honorariums, or salaries for the services provided by the established schools or CL schools

  • some form of formal learning structure
  • official recognition of this “Scope and Sequence” which includes the generic unit standards that will lead to actual Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 qualifications.

The inaugural Cook Islands Maori Language Week began on 17 September and concluded on Cook Islands Day, 24 September.

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Festivities were centred around the theme of revitalising language: e akaaraara it e reo o toku ui tupuna ei kai naku it e po e tea o (awaken the languages of my ancestors to sustain me night and day and the purpose is to revitalize our language and promote the usage in all areas of our lives); taku ipukarea (my homeland); taku ngutuare tangata (my household); taku oire (my village).

Festivities included activities in schools in the Porirua area, in churches, with Mato Metua Kuki Airani organisation for the elderly and Kuki Airani events at Te Papa. Teremoana Hodges, one of the week’s organisers, said a highlight was to “showcase the involvement of our young people in our language and culture”.

Cook Islands Maori Language Classes will begin at Porirua College in March 2012 for those who have left school. Over 100 people have enrolled so far, but more are welcome.

Visit the Tuatua Mai website for Cook Islands Maori resources.

Pacific Languages Framework Update

The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs would like to thank all those who attended consultation fono and gave written submissions about the draft Pacific Languages Framework.

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Over August and September the Ministry held 17 consultation fono in main centres around New Zealand, including consultation with youth, community and church leaders, key Pacific advisory groups and with a forum at the NZ Diversity Forum.

The consultation fono have now concluded. Overall Pacific communities are very supportive of a Framework and contributed many ideas about the development and implementation of the Framework.

The Ministry is now collating all the feedback it has received about the Framework. Once completed, a summary report will be published on the Ministry’s website. The feedback will inform the next version of the Framework.

MPIA would like to thank and acknowledge Pacific communities for their support and the positive and valuable feedback received.

Privacy and Language Line go hand in hand

If your personal privacy is important to you, then here is good news.

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner – who works to promote a culture in which personal information is protected and respected - has joined Language Line, the telephone interpreting service.

Should you have concerns about your personal information, whether it is about your finances, health or any other issue, you can contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in any of the 42 languages on offer.  This means that any language difficulties people may face does not need to form a barrier to block them from this service.

The Office of Privacy Commissioner has also released information cards to help people protect themselves from crimes of the digital era. The cards offer suggestions on protecting personal information, avoiding scams, identity theft and other online information safe.

Call to include Hindi in school curriculum

A group of parents and community leaders has called for Hindi to be included in the New Zealand curriculum and promoted as a second language in schools.

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The Hindi Language & Culture Trust of New Zealand is drafting a proposal for the Ministry of Education, New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and other government agencies.

Trust President Satya Dutt said that Māori, Cook Islands, Samoan, Tongan, Tokelauan, French, Spanish and German were a part of the school curriculum in New Zealand, where as Hindi remains outside the scope of teaching and learning in the education system.

Mr Dutt said the Trust aims to facilitate development of a Hindi curriculum document to make provisions of teaching Hindi in New Zealand schools. Mr Dutt commended schools such as Papatoetoe High School in South Auckland, who have taken the initiative to offer Hindi as a second language to Year 9 and 10 students.

The call was made at Hindi Day celebrations in South Auckland and Hamilton. Mr Dutt said “the core focus of the celebration is to make an impact and create awareness among our communities on the importance of the language.” The event, held under the theme ‘Hindi Hamari Pahechaan (Hindi is our Identity) is expected to gain momentum in 2012. Of the South Auckland event Mr Dutt said participants “decided to mark a weeklong celebration next year, highlighting the importance of learning and teaching Hindi and promoting it as an important language of communication.”

The Bilingual Leo Pacific Coalition have presented a submission to the education and science select committee of parliament.

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The submission supports a petition presented to parliament in August. The petition, with over 5000 signatures, asked parliament to:

"That the House urge the Government to introduce and fully fund Pacific languages literacy and English literacy development through bilingual education programmes for Pacific students in order to: raise students academic achievement, maintain and revive Pacific languages, and make the programmes readily available on an optional basis to Pacific families and communities in English and the five main Pacific languages of New Zealand; Cook Island Maori, Vagahau Niue, Tokelau, Samoan, Tongan."

The Coalition’s submission to select committee calls on government to take steps to recognise “pasifika bilingualism as a key to successful learning”. Other people and organisations have sent in supporting submissions. Submitters have asked select committee to allow them to present evidence and appear before the committee in support of the petition. The submissions will be placed before the incoming select committee, after November’s election.

Deaf Youth Coordinator

Deaf Aotearoa is pleased to announce the appointment of Ursula Thynne as its Deaf Youth Coordinator.

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Ursula, who is Deaf, comes from a background in teaching, science and Deaf education, and science research. She will lead Deaf Aotearoa’s youth services, “Stepping Ahead” and “Project Energise”.

Stepping Ahead is a free programme designed to help Deaf and hearing impaired students transition successfully from school into further education, training or work.

“Stepping Ahead has been developed by a team of Deaf New Zealanders, and it contains all the information that they wished they could have accessed when making the transition from school,” says Ursula.

“We want our Deaf youth to be confident, independent and successful when they step out into the world.”

The programme is developed for 16 – 21 year olds and designed to inform on all the external services available and how to access them, plus how to organise a New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter, access Deaf Aotearoa resources and effective strategies for communication.

The other half of Ursula’s role is the development of “Project Energise”, a youth programme which is presently based in Auckland but hoped to be rolled out nationally soon.

The Project follows on from research and focus groups with young Deaf New Zealanders into what support, services and activities they wanted. From the research three key themes emerged – the difficulties associated with being Deaf, Issues and Access and an interest in deaf awareness and leadership courses.

Ursula is working on a number of these recommendations, including creating a youth newsletter and developing stronger partnerships between all Deaf/Hearing Impaired related organisations to support Deaf/Hearing Impaired youth and their families.

“We are also looking at ways to increase social interaction and empowerment between Deaf/Hearing Impaired youth through social events, camps and leadership courses.”

For more information about Project Energise and Stepping Ahead please contact Ursula on Ursula.Thynne@deaf.org.nz or visit www.deaf.org.nz.

Sign singers performing national anthem

New Zealand’s Deaf community has an additional reason to be excited about the Rugby World Cup 2011.

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Not only can they cheer on their favourite team but they can also watch the national anthem being performed in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

“God Defend New Zealand” will be sung at every All Blacks match in all three of the country’s official languages – English, Te Reo Maori and NZSL.

Deaf Aotearoa and the Rugby World Cup 2011 organisers worked together to ensure that NZSL sign singers would be part of the choir performing at the All Black’s matches.

Deaf Aotearoa Chief Executive Rachel Noble says it is great to see NZSL being publicly acknowledged as an official language of New Zealand alongside English and Te Reo Maori.

“Deaf New Zealanders want to be part of this fantastic event and to fully support the All Blacks. To see our first language being performed in such a public arena will be so amazing for both Deaf New Zealanders and for the global Deaf audience watching around the world,” says Ms Noble.

“Selection of the Deaf sign singers for the choirs was a rigorous search and Deaf Aotearoa congratulates those selected.”

Earlier this year Deaf Aotearoa released a DVD resource which teaches the national anthem sung in all three of New Zealand’s official languages. It was sent to all schools throughout the country and is available to order through or learn online at www.deaf.org.nz.

Deaf Aotearoa is the national association of the Deaf in New Zealand. The organisation promotes the awareness of, access to and advancement of NZSL – to help strengthen the rights of Deaf people and their confidence and ensure they are an active part of society.

Future Events

Refugee Education Conference AUT 2011

Places are still available for the Refugee Education Conference AUT 2011, 28 and 29 November in Auckland. See the draft programme and register on-line at AUT’s webpage.

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Keynote speakers are Richard Towle, UNHCR Regional Representative to Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific – to speak on "The Role of Resettlement in the Global Protection of Refugees" - and Dr Melika Yassin Sheikh-Eldin, Manager of the Settlement Delivery Support Service for AMES in Melbourne, Australia - on “Involving Refugee Voices in Settlement”.

Presentations and workshops will be offered in four streams with emphasis on education, but also with some workshops in health and wellbeing, settlement, and community.

One session will highlight the launch of the book’ Refugee Stories’ with readings of their own contribution to the book by 3 former refugees.

The Department of Language Studies at Unitec Institute of Technology invites you to attend a public lecture series.

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The series will be presented by Dr Tan Bee Tin, who currently teaches in the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics at the University of Auckland. Her research interests are in the areas of materials development, academic discourse, the role of creativity and interest in language teaching and language teacher education.

Date : Monday, 31 October

Time : 6 - 7 pm (come early for refreshments)

Venue : Department of Language Studies Room 1064, Building 170 Gate 3, Carrington Road Mt Albert, Auckland

Please contact Fiona Riches (ext 7375) to RSVP or for more information.

Pacific Languages Course

Lea Faka – Tonga PASF 114 offers basic knowledge in one of the Pacific Languages.

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This includes, but is not limited to Niuean, Cook Islands Maori, Tokelauan, Samoan, Tongan and Fijiian.

The course is held at CPIT Christchurch Polytechnic every Thursday starting 22 September from 6-8pm.

This is a non-assessed course in an interactive and practical learning style. For more information contact:

Siale Faitotonu 0272221118

Earl Simpson 03 940 8317

Peni Latavao 03 9408359

Supporting newcomers through multilingual services is the theme of the Regional Settlement Network Meeting on Thursday 27 October, 9 am – 1.30 pm.

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The meeting will be held at Western Springs Garden Community Hall, 956 Great North Road, Western Springs. The agenda includes:

  • A National Overview of interpreting, translating and multilingual information services from Robyn Pask (Interpreting New Zealand) and Rachel Noble (Deaf Aotearoa).
  • Focus on Good practice with Charles Cui (Waitemata District Health Board), Etutu Bowden “Voice of an interpreter” and Dr Shirley Julich “Interpreting in refugee settings – issues for interpreters, trainers and professionals”.
  • Mini information expo and group discussions
  • Lunch and networking

To RSVP and for more information contact Anna Fyfe, Auckland Regional Migrant Services, phone 09 625 3099

Mandarin Corner and Chinese Film

Mandarin Corner 汉语角 is held from 3.15pm – 4.30pm Saturdays during school terms at Victoria University of Wellington, Seminar Room, 20 Kelburn Parade. Gold coin donation.

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29 October – Er Hu 二胡 (Chinese violin)

5 November - Zisha Teapots 紫砂壶

12 November - Suzhou Gardens 苏州园林

19 November - Chinese Silk  中国织绸

(Topics may vary subject to availability)

Contact: Ellen Yang 027-4756888.


Wednesday 26 October, 7.00pm – 9:30pm at Committee Room One, Wellington City Council, 101 Wakefield Street. Gold Coin Donation Entry.

7-7:30pm- Documentary—Waterside Region South of the Yangtze River江南水乡

7:30 Documentary– A Review of the Centennial Development of China’s Film Industry 百年光影 [100 minutes with English subtitles]