Experts Advisory Group Members

A selection panel consisting of the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Education, and the Human Rights Commission chose the following eight people as members of the Experts Advisory Group:
  • Mark Berry (Wellington) brings his broad experience as a younger Deaf person who is the child of Deaf parents and who has Deaf siblings. Mark was educated at van Asch Deaf education centre and studied for a year in the US at a School for the Deaf. Mark is currently studying at Victoria University of Wellington, and also teaches NZSL and Deaf studies there. Mark is teaches NZSL in adult community education classes and at schools, is a presenter on the Attitude TV programme about disabled people, and is on the Deaf Aotearoa Executive Board.

  • Bridget Ferguson (Wellington) has been involved in the Deaf community and using NZSL for over 22 years as a professional sign language interpreter, a Resource teacher of the Deaf and Advisor on Deaf children, and as a mother of a Deaf child. Bridget has experience working in the NZ Deaf education system and in a Deaf school in the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children in Sydney, Australia. She has taught in bilingual and immersion programmes as well as inclusive settings where Deaf learners are mainstreamed.

  • Josje Lelijveld (Christchurch) has been teaching NZSL for over 20 years. Josje currently teaches NZSL at the University of Canterbury to students of Specialist Teaching (Deaf & Hearing Impaired), in local community classes, and in intermediate schools. Josje also brings to the group her experience from working at van Asch Deaf Education Centre, Workbridge, Christchurch Polytechnic, Deaf Aotearoa and with the NZ Relay. Josje is Deaf, and is currently Vice President of the Deaf Society of Canterbury.

  • Victoria Manning (Wellington) has been involved in various leadership roles in the Deaf community and promoting NZSL for over twenty years, including advocating for the telecommunications relay service, working with Deaf mental health services, leading development of the New Zealand Sign Language Act while working in the Office for Disability Issues, and developing resources in NZSL. Most recently, Victoria worked as an Advisor on disability issues at the Human Rights Commission, where she led its inquiry into NZSL.

  • Rachel McKee (Wellington) has had a wide involvement, since 1985, with the Deaf community, interpreters, NZSL-related tertiary training, Deaf teachers of NZSL, parents of deaf children, and the deaf education sector. Rachel has actively contributed to the recognition of NZSL through research and documentation of NZSL (for example the NZSL Online Dictionary, and a grammar of NZSL), and by disseminating this knowledge through teaching at community and tertiary levels. Rachel is a Lecturer in Deaf Studies at Victoria University of Wellington and is the current SLIANZ president.

  • Sonia Pivac (Auckland), the 2013 NZSL Champion, has taught NZSL for over 15 years, and has been instrumental in the development of resources and services promoting NZSL. Sonia, whose family is also Deaf, is the Creative Director of Deafradio, an enterprise pioneering mostly technology based innovations for the Deaf community. A Fulbright scholar who studied at Gallaudet University, a Deaf university in the USA, Sonia combines a detailed knowledge of NZSL and the Deaf community, with a passion and gift for technology and service innovation. Sonia is also the Chairperson of Auckland Deaf Society, one of the largest New Zealand Deaf community organisations in NZ.

  • Patrick Thompson (Auckland) Ngati Paoa and Ngati Whanaunga has worked with the Deaf Maori community for more than 20 years as an educator, social worker and advocate. Patrick has worked in promoting NZ Relay, and brings his experience working at Te Roopu Wairoa Trust and Deaf Aotearoa. Patrick is currently an educator associate for the Kelston Boys High School Deaf Unit.

  • Michael Wi (Auckland) brings his experience working at Kelston Deaf Education Centre and the perspective of Maori Deaf. Michael is also an Auckland Deaf Society board member. 

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