Waitangi Tribunal told of abuse against Māori deaf community

Abused as children for using sign language and blocked from accessing te ao Māori.

That was the experience of many growing up in the Māori Deaf community, who are now taking part in a landmark Waitangi Tribunal hearing this week in Auckland.

Their claims are part of a wider inquiry into Crown breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi relating to Māori health.

While being formally welcomed onto Papakura Marae this morning, a trilingual interpreter put the pōwhiri in their language.

It’s a rare service many Deaf Māori, or tāngata turi, still can’t access.

“Trilingual interpreters are our only way to access te ao Māori,” said tangata turi claimant Karen Pointon.

“We don’t want to be isolated from te ao Māori, so trilingual interpreters are very, very essential. But there’s a very small number of them.”

In fact, there are just three in the country, with no formal pathway or course to be trained as a trilingual interpreter.

Tāngata turi would like to see an independent entity led by their community to ensure there is more targeted resourcing and funding to support their needs.

They also envision more funding for education institutions to provide more pathways to becoming an interpreter. […]

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