Reprint as at 1 March 2017
Changes authorised by subpart 2 of Part 2 of the Legislation Act 2012 have been made in this official reprint.
Note 4 at the end of this reprint provides a list of the amendments incorporated.
This Act is administered by the Ministry of Social Development.
This Act is the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006.
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
The purpose of this Act is to promote and maintain the use of New Zealand Sign Language by—
declaring New Zealand Sign Language to be an official language of New Zealand; and
providing for the use of New Zealand Sign Language in legal proceedings; and
empowering the making of regulations setting competency standards for the interpretation in legal proceedings of New Zealand Sign Language; and
stating principles to guide government departments in the promotion and use of New Zealand Sign Language.
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—
Deaf community means—
the distinct linguistic and cultural group of people who are deaf and who use New Zealand Sign Language as their first or preferred language; and
people who are deaf and who identify with the group of people referred to in paragraph (a)
government department means a government department named in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Ombudsmen Act 1975
interpretation, in relation to New Zealand Sign Language, means—
the expression in New Zealand Sign Language of words spoken in English or Maori or both; and
the oral expression in English or Maori or both of messages expressed in New Zealand Sign Language
legal proceedings means—
proceedings before any court or tribunal named in the Schedule; and
proceedings before any coroner; and
proceedings to inquire into and report on any matter of particular interest to the Deaf community before—
a commission of inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908; or
a tribunal or other body having any of the powers of a commission of inquiry under any other enactment; or
an inquiry to which section 6 of the Inquiries Act 2013 applies
that is required to inquire into and report upon any matter of particular interest to the Deaf community
Minister means, subject to any enactment, the Minister who is, with the authority of the Prime Minister, for the time being responsible for the administration of this Act
New Zealand Sign Language or NZSL means the visual and gestural language that is the first or preferred language in New Zealand of the distinct linguistic and cultural group of people who are deaf
presiding officer, in relation to any legal proceedings, means the Judge or other person who is presiding over the proceedings
translation, in relation to New Zealand Sign Language, means—
the written expression in English or Maori or both of messages expressed in New Zealand Sign Language; and
the signed expression in New Zealand Sign Language of words written in English or Maori or both.
Compare: 1987 No 176 s 2
Section 4 legal proceedings paragraph (c): replaced, on 27 August 2013, by section 39 of the Inquiries Act 2013 (2013 No 60).
This Act binds the Crown.
New Zealand Sign Language is declared to be an official language of New Zealand.
Compare: 1987 No 176 s 3
In any legal proceedings, any of the following persons may use New Zealand Sign Language, where the person’s first or preferred language is NZSL:
any member of the court, tribunal, or body before which the proceedings are being conducted:
any party or witness:
any counsel or other person representing a party in the proceedings:
any other person with leave of the presiding officer.
The right conferred by subsection (1) to use NZSL does not—
entitle any person referred to in that subsection to insist that any person who is not an interpreter for the purposes of the proceedings address or answer him or her in NZSL; or
entitle any such person other than the presiding officer to require that the proceedings or any part of them be recorded in NZSL.
Where the presiding officer in any legal proceedings is aware that any person entitled under subsection (1) to use NZSL in those proceedings intends to do so, the presiding officer must ensure that a competent interpreter is available.
Where, in any proceedings, any question arises as to the accuracy of any interpretation or translation from NZSL into spoken or written language or from spoken or written language into NZSL, the question must be determined by the presiding officer in such manner as the presiding officer thinks fit.
Regulations made under this Act and rules of court or other appropriate rules of procedure made under any enactment may require any person intending to use NZSL in any legal proceedings to give reasonable notice of that intention, and generally regulate the procedure to be followed where NZSL is, or is to be, used in such proceedings.
Any such regulations or rules of court or other appropriate rules of procedure may make failure to give the required notice a relevant consideration in relation to an award of costs, but no person may be denied the right to use NZSL in any legal proceedings because of any such failure.
Compare: 1987 No 176 s 4
Subject to section 7, section 6 does not create any legally enforceable rights.
Nothing in section 6 or section 7—
affects any right that any person has, otherwise than by virtue of those sections, to seek, receive, or impart any communication in NZSL; or
affects the right of any other linguistic community in New Zealand or the right of any person to use the language of that community or person.
Compare: 1987 No 176 s 5
A government department should, when exercising its functions and powers, be guided, so far as reasonably practicable, by the following principles:
the Deaf community should be consulted on matters relating to NZSL (including, for example, the promotion of the use of NZSL):
NZSL should be used in the promotion to the public of government services and in the provision of information to the public:
government services and information should be made accessible to the Deaf community through the use of appropriate means (including the use of NZSL).
Consultation carried out by a government department under subsection (1)(a) is to be effected by the chief executive of the government department consulting, to the extent that is reasonably practicable, with the persons or organisations that the chief executive considers to be representative of the interests of the members of the Deaf community relating to NZSL.
The purpose of the principles in subsection (1) is to promote access to government information and services for the Deaf community, but nothing in subsection (1) is to be read as conferring on the Deaf community advantages not enjoyed by other persons.
The Minister may from time to time report on the progress being made in implementing the principles set out in section 9.
A report under subsection (1) may be included in any report made under section 8(4) of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 on the progress being made in implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy.
The Minister must, as soon as is practicable, 3 years after the date on which this Act comes into force, require a report to be prepared on—
the operation of this Act since its commencement; and
whether any amendments to the scope and contents of this Act are necessary or desirable.
The Minister must ensure that persons or organisations that are representative of the interests of the members of the Deaf community are consulted on the matters to be considered in the report.
The Minister must present a copy of the report to the House of Representatives.
Nothing in this Act affects the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
The Governor-General may from time to time, by Order in Council, make regulations for all or any of the following purposes:
prescribing the standards of competency that a person who is to act in legal proceedings as an interpreter of NZSL must attain:
providing for any other matters contemplated by this Act or necessary for its administration or necessary for giving it full effect.
Regulations made under subsection (1)(a) must include (or provide, among other things, for the determination and publication of) the criteria by which the competence of a person to act in legal proceedings as an interpreter of NZSL may be assessed.
The Supreme Court
The Court of Appeal
The High Court
The District Court
The Employment Court
The Family Court
The Youth Court
The Maori Land Court
The Maori Appellate Court
The Environment Court
The Waitangi Tribunal
The Employment Relations Authority
The Human Rights Review Tribunal
The Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunals established under section 82(1) of the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003
The Tenancy Tribunal
The Disputes Tribunal established under the Disputes Tribunal Act 1988
Schedule: amended, on 1 March 2017, by section 261 of the District Court Act 2016 (2016 No 49).
This is a reprint of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 that incorporates all the amendments to that Act as at the date of the last amendment to it.
Reprints are presumed to correctly state, as at the date of the reprint, the law enacted by the principal enactment and by any amendments to that enactment. Section 18 of the Legislation Act 2012 provides that this reprint, published in electronic form, has the status of an official version under section 17 of that Act. A printed version of the reprint produced directly from this official electronic version also has official status.
Editorial and format changes to reprints are made using the powers under sections 24 to 26 of the Legislation Act 2012. See also http://www.pco.parliament.govt.nz/editorial-conventions/.
District Court Act 2016 (2016 No 49): section 261
Inquiries Act 2013 (2013 No 60): section 39