What is NZSL?

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the natural language of the Deaf community in New Zealand. It was made an official language of New Zealand in 2006.

NZSL is used by 20,000 New Zealanders daily.

NZSL has a distinct vocabulary and grammar that has developed in the Deaf community, including signs for Māori concepts. It is a visual-gestural language that is capable of expressing any ideas like any other other. The fingerspelt alphabet is used mainly for proper nouns.

NZSL so it reflects the Aotearoa’s culture by including signs for Māori concepts which can not be found in other sign languages or countries.

Points to remember about NZSL

  • NZSL is a true natural language 
  • NZSL does not interfere with the development of spoken English
  • NZSL is not based on English or other spoken languages
  • NZSL is not a universal “Deaf” language.
  • NZSL is not mime or gesture