NZSL Act 2006 Video Transcript

Read a transcript of an explanation of New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 in New Zealand Sign Language and captions.

Introduction - sections 1 and 2

Disclaimer - This video is an explanation of the NZSL Act.

This explanation is not a legally enforceable document. The legal version of the Act is the English language version only.

1. Title – This Act is named the New Zealand Sign Language 2006, or in short, the NZSL Act.

2. Commencement – The Act starts on the day after the Governor-General signs it into law, called the Royal assent.

 

Part 1: Preliminary provisions. Part 1 explains what the Act is for, explains some of the words used in the Act, and states whether or not the government must follow the Act.

3. Purpose - The Act aims to promote and protect the use of New Zealand Sign Language in four ways:

(a) making New Zealand Sign Language an official language of New Zealand; and

(b) making sure New Zealand Sign Language can be used in some courts and tribunals and some other legal settings; and

(c) giving power to make rules about the skills that New Zealand Sign Language interpreters must have to work in Iegal proceedings; and

(d) giving rules to guide how government departments can promote and use New Zealand Sign Language. 

4. Interpretation – This section explains the meaning of some words used in the Act.

“Deaf community”, in relation to the Act makes reference to two important things: language and culture.

(a) the group of people who are deaf and who prefer to use New Zealand Sign Language to communicate. It could be a person’s first language, or they may have learnt it later in life but either way, NZSL is the person’s preferred language.

(b) people who are deaf and who feel like they are part of the cultural group that prefers to use New Zealand Sign Language.

“government department”, in relation to the Act means — “government department” means a government department named in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Ombudsmen Act 1975.

“interpretation”, in relation to the Act means —

(a) when words originally spoken in English or Maori are then signed in New Zealand Sign Language; and

(b) when a message signed in New Zealand Sign Language, is then spoken in English or Maori or both.

“legal proceedings”, in relation to the Act means —

(a) any legal discussions that happen in some courts or tribunals listed in the Schedule attached to the Act.

(b) an examination by a coroner about how someone died; and

(c) proceedings before –

(i) a Commission or Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908; or

(ii) a tribunal or other legal body that may be set up and given all or some of the powers of a Commission of Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908 that has to investigate and report about any issues that is of special interest to the Deaf community.

“Minister” means that Member of Parliament appointed as a Minister responsible for making sure this Act is followed. The Prime Minister decides on this person, and this Minister will change from time to time.

“New Zealand Sign Language” or “NZSL” means the visual and gestural language that is the first or preferred language in New Zealand of the group of people who are deaf, and identify as being part of a Deaf cultural group.

“presiding officer”, in legal proceedings means the Judge or other person who controls the proceedings.

“translation”, in relation to New Zealand Sign Language, means these things –

(a) messages signed in New Zealand Sign Language that are then written down in English or Maori or both; and

(b) messages written in English or Maori or both that are then signed in New Zealand Sign Language.

5. Act binds the Crown – The Crown (the government) must follow this Act.

 

Recognition - sections 6 to 8

Part 2: New Zealand Sign Language Recognition. This Act recognises two things:

6. NZSL to be an official language of New Zealand. This Act states that New Zealand Sign Language is an official language of New Zealand.

7. Right to use NZSL in legal proceedings. The right to use New Zealand Sign Language in legal proceedings.

(1) In any legal proceedings, some people may use New Zealand Sign Language, if their first or preferred language is NZSL. There are four groups of people who may use NZSL in legal proceedings:

(a) any member of the court, tribunal or legal body in which the proceedings are being heard:

(b) anyone taking a case or defending a case, or a witness:

(c) any lawyer or other person representing a person taking or defending a case:

(d) any other person if the presiding officer (like a Judge) agrees.

So, if a person’s first or preferred language is NZSL, and they fit in any of these four groups, then they are entitled to use NZSL for that legal proceeding.

(2) The right to use NZSL for these four groups does not include —

(a) even though the people in the four groups just mentioned may use NZSL in legal proceedings, other people in those proceedings do not have to use NZSL. For example, a judge does not have to sign in NZSL to talk to a deaf person in court. Only interpreters must use NZSL.

(b) only the person controlling the legal proceedings can decide if the discussion, or part of the discussion, must be recorded in NZSL.

(3) Where the person controlling the legal proceedings knows that someone wants to use NZSL in those proceedings and if that person has the right, the presiding officer must make sure that an interpreter with the right skills is provided.

(4) During any proceedings, if there are any concerns about any interpretation or translation from NZSL into spoken or written language or from spoken or written language into NZSL, the concern must be decided by the presiding officer, in any way that person thinks right.

(5) Under this Act, other rules (called regulations) or rules of procedure under another Act might be made about how a person tells a Court or tribunal in advance that they intend to use NZSL in a legal proceeding and what then happens. If someone wants to use NZSL in legal proceedings, that person must say so in enough time to organise resources like an interpreter.

(6) Even if someone doesn’t say they want to use NZSL in legal proceedings early enough (according to the rules), that person is still allowed to use NZSL in the legal proceeding. However, if the person is late in saying they want to use NZSL, the presiding officer can order them to pay costs if proceedings are postponed. However, late notice does not remove the right to use New Zealand Sign Language in legal proceedings.

8. Effect of recognition. What effect does recognition have?

(1) This Act gives some people the right to use NZSL in legal proceedings (as described in Section 7), but this Act does not give people any other special legal rights.

(2a) official recognition of NZSL, and the rights given in section 7 do not affect any other right any person has to ask for, receive, or give any communication in NZSL;

(b) this Act only relates to the deaf community and the use of NZSL, and does not affect any other people or their right to use their own language.

 

Principles to guide government departments - sections 9 and 10

Principles to guide government departments.

9. Principles.

(1) When government departments are doing their work and using their powers, they should be guided by the following rules:

(a) the deaf community should be consulted on matters relating to NZSL (including, for example, the promotion of the use of NZSL);

(b) NZSL should be used in the promotion to the public of government services and in the provision of information to the public

(c) when government departments are working on making their services and information available to the public, they should make those information and services available to Deaf people in ways that suit them (for example, using NZSL).

(2) When a government department is seeking the views of the deaf community on issues relating to NZSL, the chief executive of that government department should arrange these discussions. The government department should talk with the persons or organisations that the chief executive of that department believes represents the interests of the deaf community.

(3) The reason for these rules is to encourage government departments to give the deaf community access to information and services. But these suggestions do not give deaf people the right to more access than any other people.

10. Reporting.

As explained, the Act contains rules to guide government departments on how to follow the Act.

(1) The Minister may from time to time give a report about the progress on how government departments are using those rules.

(2) The Minister’s report may be included in any report made under section 8(4) of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 on progress being made in achieving steps in the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

 

Miscellaneous provisions - sections 11 and 12

Miscellaneous provisions.

11. Review of operation of Act.

(1) Three years after the date on which this Act becomes law, the Minister must, as soon as realistically possible, require a report on these things —

(a) how the Act has been working since it began; and

(b) if there needs to be any changes to what this Act includes and how much it covers.

(2) When the Minister is preparing the report, the Minister must make sure that persons or organisations that represent the interests of the deaf community are asked for their views about the things the report will include.

(3) The Minister must give a copy of the report to the House of Representatives.

12. New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 not affected

Nothing in this Act affects the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

 

13. Regulations

(1) The Governor-General may from time to time, by Order in Council, make regulations for all or any of the following reasons:

(a) setting rules about the standards of skill that a NZSL interpreter working in legal proceedings must have;

(b) rules to set the standards of skill for NZSL interpreters in legal proceedings must include how these skills will be assessed;

(c) make regulations for any purpose required by this Act or to make sure the Act can be set up and followed.

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