NZ Sign Language Matariki book digitised

By Tepara Koti
Te Reo Singalong NZSL Matariki video ft Tuhoi Henry

Four Māori language picture books from the award-winning Te Reo Singalong series have been translated into New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), including one about Matariki.  

There are 13 books in the full Te Reo Singalong series, the four most popular books were chosen to be translated into NZSL as free digital versions - "Matariki", "Kia Ora", "Kei te Peke Ahau", and "He Aha Tēnei?"

Author of the Te Reo Singalong books, Sharon Holt, has been working on the project with KDEC's signers and interpreters for the past 12 months.

She says it’s been an exciting project to be involved in, "We’ve had many requests to put our 13 books in NZSL over the years, so it’s wonderful to finally achieve that for four of our titles, and to make the videos available free," she says.

"It’s great to know that these videos will help the Deaf Community as well as making NZSL accessible to teachers, parents and children throughout New Zealand who already know our books. It’s a true win-win situation."

The project was completed with funding from the New Zealand Sign Language Board and in conjunction with Kelston Deaf Education Centre (KDEC). 

It features one of KDEC's Tū Kōkiri students, 19-year-old Tuhoi Henry (Te Uri o Hau), as the signer on the videos.

Tuhoi says he would like to see more Māori sign interpreters, “I have a dream to see more Māori sign interpreters, so we can feed back into the Deaf community and show how things can be done in a Deaf way, but also in a Māori way.”

The digital books have already received positive feedback from various kura Māori, schools, preschools and other groups since their launch during this year's NZSL Week.

“Thank you so much!! I am a teacher of in year 1 & 2 in kura kaupapa Māori.  I'm so excited to see this resource and can't wait to use this with my class.  As a kura we celebrate Matariki as a whānau every year so I am soooooooo excited to see my kids using the 3rd official language of Aotearoa.” 

“Love the NZSL resources. Will ask my daughter’s intermediate school to get the children to sing and sign at assemblies. Particularly like Matariki.”

“We love your books and have purchased every one. At present the children are learning to signs to your Matariki video, to perform to their parents for Matariki. What an awesome way to support sign language. Thank you so much.”

“I have played the beautiful Matariki in NZSL to several groups this week. To Arohanui Special School students, a group of 6. They all, students and teacher aids, enjoyed it very much. To Ranui Kindergarten (actually I just signed along with the book because we did not have the computer up and running) 40 children and teachers. Next time we will be able to use the computer and TV screen and Whaea Tui is so keen she thinks they will practice through the week. She and I are hoping that the kindy will perform the song in sign for our library Matariki celebration. To the Auckland Brain Injury Group who I visit once a fortnight. A group of 10 people, but unfortunately their facility does not have internet access and so were not able to watch the video. To the adult special needs group that meets at Ranui Library every Thursday for Storytime. 30 people. We played it twice and are also learning it for Matariki. They liked it very much.”

Holt is pleased that the project will make NZSL available to hearing tamariki and whānau already enjoying Te Reo Singalong books in homes, schools and preschools across New Zealand.  
She says, "Because of the high recognition level of our Te Reo Singalong books among children, we expect that the digital versions featuring NZSL will be assimilated easily. I really hope that this project will encourage more children to learn NZSL."

To view the four Te Reo Singalong video books, visit their website here.