19 May 2014

Deaf Maori develop new signs

9:52 am on 19 May 2014

A Maori sign language expert says more and more hand gestures about Te Ao Maori (Maori "world") are being created by tangata whenua, who have a hearing impairment.

Stephanie Awheto is one of only two Maori who are trilingual sign language interpreters.

She said tangata turi or deaf Maori were helping to advance New Zealand Sign Language.

Ms Awheto said tangata turi had realised there were concepts in Te Ao Maori that were new to them.

The Ngati Ruanui and Taranaki Tuturu iwi woman said as deaf Maori were becoming enlightened about those concepts new signs were being developed.

She said she wouldn't necessarily say the "new signs" themselves were indicative of being Maori, but what deaf Maori had allowed interpreters to do was create new language so they could express themselves as being Maori.