NZSL Board: Questions and Answers

On this page, you will find answers to common questions about the NZSL Board, including information on its policies.

What is the composition of the NZSL Board and how is it determined?

The Terms of Reference for the Board specify its composition. The  NZSL Board has up to 10 members in total, all of whom are NZSL users, and a majority of members are Deaf NZSL users. The current NZSL Board members are:

  • Victoria Manning (Chair) - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Shona Jones (Deputy Chair) - Term ends mid-2018
  • Bridget Ferguson (Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand representative) - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Richard Peri - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Josje Lelijveld - Term ends mid-2018
  • Dr Rachel McKee - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Chris Blum - Term ends mid-2018
  • Lee Bullivant - Term ends 1 June 2019
  • Dr Kirsten Smiler - Term ends mid-2018

Further information on these members can be found at

Past NZSL Board members:

  • Sara Pivac Alexander – Mrs Pivac Alexander is a NZSL lecturer and a member of the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Victoria University of Wellington. (Stepped down February 2018)
  • Note: Karen Pointon was also appointed to the NZSL Board as a founding member, but subsequently was unable to take up her membership.

What processes are used to appoint the current members?

The Office for Disability Issues convened a selection panel with representatives from the Ministries of Social Development and Education, Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand and an individual from the Deaf community to provide advice to the Minister for Disability Issues.

The panel reviewed applications and conducted interviews with some nominees. When making their recommendations to the Minister, the panel considered the expectations of members’ skills and experience set out in the Board’s Terms of Reference, and made their recommendations accordingly.

Once the Minister had agreed with the Selection Panel’s recommendations, they were discussed by the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH) and the appointments were made after the following Cabinet meeting.

Why were four people employed by Deaf Aotearoa appointed to the Board?

Members of the board serve as individuals in an independent role, and only one member represents Deaf Aotearoa on the board, Bridget Ferguson. Members are appointed to the board on their individual knowledge and experience of NZSL.

It is worth noting that Deaf Aotearoa employs a large number of highly skilled and experienced users of NZSL and is the largest organisation working in the NZSL community. Many applications were received from its staff and board members.

How will the views of other NZSL users be heard by the NZSL Board?

The Board’s Terms of Reference contains an expectation that it will consult with experts from outside of the Board to ensure that broad perspectives regarding NZSL issues are achieved. The panel believes that expectation means that all sectors of the NZSL community will have a voice within the Board.

How long is the term for NZSL Board members?

The first members of the NZSL Board were appointed for terms of three or four years from the date of appointment in order to provide for staged  turnover of members. The standard term for future board members is three years.

I was nominated for the NZSL Board, but was unsuccessful. What should I do to improve my chances of being appointed to the Board in the future?

Everyone’s situation is different of course, but the Selection Panel’s observation was that many nominees would benefit by obtaining more experience in governance roles, specifically roles that operated as strategic oversight of an organisation, rather than managerial control.

Does the NZSL Board have a governance policy, and what is its process for the management of conflict of interest?

The primary key document that outlines the roles and function of the NZSL Board is the Terms of Reference. The other key documents are the NZSL Board’s policies. As the NZSL Board develops policies, information about them will be published here on this page.

Firstly, the NZSL Board has a Conflicts of Interest Policy, last updated December 2017, that clearly outlines the processes required to manage any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interests. The Board's Terms of Reference (point 33-35) also specifies how the Board is required to manage conflicts of interest. The required response to levels of conflict are:

Relationship with applicant Likely level of conflict Required response to level of conflict

Lead and/or representative of Applicant
You or your immediate family and/or partner benefits or directly disadvantaged by an Applicant if applicant is awarded funding

Very high

Declare your conflict of interest.

Provide Chair/Secretariat with details of the conflict.

Must not be involved and do not participate in discussion or voting in any way in this funding process.

Have you given advice on a NZSL Fund application?  High Provide Chair/Secretariat with details of the conflict. 

Involved in discussions but not decision-making or voting related to this funding.

Chair/Secretariat to determine appropriate mitigation.

Involved in background (e.g. staff or knowledge of; competing organisation  Medium Provide Chair/Secretariat with details of the conflict.

Involved in discussions and decision-making or voting related to this funding.

Chair/Secretariat to determine appropriate mitigation.

Stakeholder (e.g. member of same community organisation)  Low Provide Chair/Secretariat with details of the conflict.

Involved in discussions and decision-making or voting related to this funding.

Chair/Secretariat to determine appropriate mitigation.

No relationship  No conflict No action required.

Does the NZSL Board have a complaints policy?

Yes, the NZSL Board has a complaints policy. The purpose of this policy, last updated December 2017, is to describe the NZSL Board's processes for managing complaints:

  • Complaints about the NZSL Board. The NZSL Board's policy outlines the Board's processes for responding to complaints about the NZSL Board.
  • Complaints about other organisations. The Board has determined that it is not the role of the NZSL Board to respond to complaints about other organisations. If the Board receives a complaint about other organisation, the Board will refer the complainant to discuss their issue directly with the organisation they are concerned about. 

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