Whaikaha becomes first Ministry with a name in all official New Zealand languages.

Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People and New Zealand Sign Language(NZSL) Board joint Media Release.

View NZSL translation video

Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People has been gifted a sign name on behalf of the Deaf community, making it the first Ministry to have a name in all of Aotearoa New Zealand’s official languages.

The one-handed sign for 'tree' which moves upwards to reflect the rātā vine, which is part of the Whaikaha visual brand and whakatauākī – “Me he aka rātā ka tipu tahi, ka puāwai tahi kia tū kaha i ngā hihi ō Tamanuiterā - Like the rātā vines growing together and flourishing to stand strong in the warmth of the sun’.

The new sign name was gifted to Whaikaha by the NZSL Board and representatives of the Deaf community at an event at Parliament today.  

“It is a great honour to be gifted a name in the beautiful New Zealand Sign Language almost exactly one year since we were established,” Paula Tesoriero, Whaikaha Chief Executive said. 

“We know a lot of work went into the process to create this name and on behalf of Whaikaha, I want to thank the NSZL Board, representatives of the community who worked to develop the sign name options, and all the members of the Deaf community who voted on our sign name. 

“Whaikaha was established to be a unique ministry that works in partnership with Māori and the disability community to improve outcomes for disabled people. The fact that we are the first and only ministry to have an official name in NZSL, te reo Māori and English reflects this commitment,” said Paula Tesoriero. 

“Whaikaha having an official sign name tells me it is a Ministry which embraces NZSL and wants to work directly with the Deaf community, including championing Deaf people’s rights,” NZSL Board Chair Rhian Yates said. 

“When a person or organisation has a sign name it means they are familiar to the Deaf community, and when they are gifted a name by Deaf people it recognises and verifies their identity and acceptance into the Deaf Community as extended family. 

“The process to choose a sign name included the development of three options by an NZSL expert group, which included people from the NZSL Board, te rōpū Kaitiaki, Deaf Aotearoa, Deaf Action and the Deaf Studies Research Unit (DSRU) at Victoria University of Wellington.  

“A voting process for Deaf people around Aotearoa then took place to choose the final name to gift to Whaikaha on behalf of the Deaf community,” said Rhian Yates.   


Media contact: media@whaikaha.govt.nz    

About Whaikaha 

Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People is underpinned by Aotearoa New Zealand’s commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities along with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, the vision and principles of Enabling Good Lives (EGL) and Whānau Ora are foundational to how the Ministry does its work.  

Whaikaha focuses on listening to and partnering with disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori, Pacific disabled people, their families and communities so that their experiences can inform changes to the policies and practices which govern the disability sector. The goal is to enable disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori to make their own decisions on the supports that will enable them to live their own good life, enhancing their mana and self-determination. 

Whaikaha will provide strong and focused leadership of the disability system across government through: 

  • Driving better outcomes for all disabled people 
  • Leading and coordinating cross-government strategic disability policy 
  • Working to deliver and transform disability support services, and; 
  • Progressing work on the broader transformation of the wider disability system 

About the NZSL Board 

The purpose of the NZSL Board is to promote and maintain NZSL by ensuring the development, preservation and acquisition of the language, and to provide expert advice to government and the community on NZSL. 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. 

NZSL media release