The Story of New Zealand Sign Language

New Zealand Sign Language or NZSL is the main language of New Zealand’s Deaf community. NZSL became an official language in New Zealand in April 2006.

New Zealand Sign Language is based on British Sign Language (BSL), and some consider it a dialect or a combination of British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language. There are 62.5% similarities found in British Sign Language and NZSL, compared with 33% of NZSL signs found in American Sign Language. NZSL uses the same 2 handed manual alphabet as British and Auslan.

NZSL was created by Deaf people for Deaf people. The language was created with no connection to the spoken or written word.

NZSL became an official New Zealand language in April 2006. The parliamentary bill to approve was passed on April 6, 2006. The bill was formalised, on 10 April 2006.