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International Week of Deaf People 2023 Webinar

29th September 2023 - 9:00 am - 10:30 am

We have a wonderful line up of parents of deaf children and young Deaf adults. Come and learn about their NZSL journeys and role NZSL plays in their daily lives. Our Children & Youth Team Leaders, Cheryl and Liz, will be facilitating the webinar and will discuss with our panelists their hopes and dreams for the future as we work towards “A world where anyone can sign everywhere”, which is this year’s theme for International Week of Deaf People.

This event will be NZSL Interpreted. The attached video has Closed Captions and you can turn them on or off.


Anita Starnes

Anita Starnes, hearing mother of Axl (2) who has a severe hearing loss in both his left and right ears. He was bilaterally implanted with Cochlear implants in March 2023. Axl was born with a severe loss in his right ear and a moderate loss in his left ear. He was given hearing aids at 4 months old. During 2022 his left ear went from a moderate to a severe loss. Anita, her husband Brent, and Axl have been learning NZSL through First Signs, Deaf Aotearoa.

Jody Hohaia

Jody Hohaia (Ngāi Tahu, Raukawa, Waikato, Ngā Puhi) and Joseph O’Sullivan (Balinese, Pākehā) have been married for eight years and have three boys, Irāia (6), Koiata (4) and Ahumai (3). They live in Ōtautahi and love being part of a wonderful beach community. Jody is a lecturer at the University of Canterbury and Joseph has a photography business, specialising in wedding photography. Their whānau speaks Te Reo Māori and are also learning Sign Language, as their youngest son, Ahumai, was born with Unliteral Hearing Loss.


Willa Barker-Pocock

Willa and her family, Husband Michael, and son’s Zach 8 and Emerson 6 live in Tamaki-Makaura Auckland. In 2019, Emerson lost his hearing as a result of illness and is now profoundly deaf aided by Cochlear.  It was important to Willa, that Emerson has access to language all of the time (not just when he had his cochlear, so they embarked on the journey to learn sign and it was finding her way to her first Auckland Parents of Deaf Children (APODC) event, Camp 2020, that provided Willa and her whānau the connection into the deaf community she was looking for. Coming from a hearing family, Willa has spoken of the benefits of meeting and engaging with other parents, learning about the community, and making connections that support Emerson as he grows. In 2020 Willa joined the APODC committee and in 2021 was elected as President.


Robbie Mitchell

We are Robbie and Sophie Mitchell, and our children Oscar (2 1/2 years) and Skylar (almost 1). We are both hearing and our children are both deaf with cochlears. We are farmers and love to explore the outdoors.

Zoe Ferguson

Hello! My name is Zoe Ferguson, I’m 22 years old, and I am proudly third generation Deaf. I recently received my Bachelor of Applied Management degree at Ara Institute of Canterbury. I have been a member of the Deaf Aotearoa Youth Board since I was 15 years old, and I am currently its president. I come from a long line of advocates, my goal is seeing young Deaf people in Aotearoa become more engaged with their cultures and sense of identity.


Cha’nel Kaa-Luke

Descended from Ngāti Porou, Ngāruahine and Ngāti Ruanui, Cha’nel grew up knowing who and where they came from. Being the only Deaf person in her whānau it wasn’t until the start of high school did Te Ao Turi opens its doors to a whole new world of possibilities. Their NZSL journey is rooted in changes of educational spaces and finding others who have experienced similar barriers, and struggles. Since leaving school and having decided to continue further education, this would never have been possible without their introduction to NZSL and the Deaf community. This is why today her mahi is driven by the same kaupapa of being visible, present, and advocating for spaces to cater to the diverse needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing rangitahi.


Meghan Coppage

Handwaves* Ko Meghan tōku ingoa. My sign name is *a small pinch on right end lips; translating ‘sweet’ in BSL.
I have just started working with Deaf Aotearoa as a Children and Youth Facilitator in Nelson. I am also on Youth Board of Deaf Aotearoa for a long time now. I enjoy hanging out with Deaf youth in NZ wide and connecting via Deaf cultural valued events/passions to see individuals to thrive. I hope the webinar brings the community to understand how much manaakitanga Deaf youth united are!

Cory Myatt

Kia Ora my name is Cory Myatt and I am 21 years old. I am currently in my second year at the University of Canterbury to become a Primary Teacher. I am currently volunteering as a manager for the Southern Deaf Futsal team, to prepare for the annual Deaf Futsal Championship held in Wellington this October. I’m also part of the NZ Deaf Fustal team going to Australia next year for the Australian Deaf Games. My goals are to see Deaf children and youth feel like they belong in a community through school, sports, and community events. I want to teach in a classroom where all students feel the same, they won’t feel judged or different to other people in the classroom, and they can relate to each other. So one goal is for me to teach Deaf students and set a good educational pathway for them and let them enjoy their school years. And to see more Deaf youths participating in sports with other Deaf people around Aotearoa.

Photo of Cory Myatt



29th September 2023
9:00 am - 10:30 am
Event Categories:


NZSL Interpreted
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