New Zealand Sign Language

Bridget Williams Books

One of the country’s three official languages, New Zealand Sign Language evolved in the communities that grew from networks of Deaf children at three schools for the Deaf from the late nineteenth century. The Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (1997) – now an invaluable online resource at – and the Concise Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (BWB, 2003) were landmarks in documenting the language. A formidable body of scholarly research lies in these volumes, driven by the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Victoria University, led first by Graeme Kennedy and later by David and Rachel McKee.

Today, NZSL forms part of the curriculum in intermediate schools, and New Zealanders are increasingly familiar with the language. Drawing on her experience of both teaching and researching NZSL, Rachel McKee has developed A Reference Grammar to support all those who are learning NZSL – students, families and friends of Deaf people, school teachers, public officials. This clear account of language structure and use is illustrated with dozens of videos, drawings and photographs.

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