How you can help

SignDNA is a not-for-profit initiative to preserve Deaf cultural history in New Zealand. While we have received support from grants and other sponsors, we still rely heavily on donations of time, materials, and, yes, cold hard cash to keep the archive wheels turning. Please see below for the many ways you can volunteer to help keep this archive alive and breathing.


We believe that SignDNA could be a great tool for linguistic research, as it provides genuine samples of naturally produced language from the 1950s right through to the 1990s. It has been fascinating to see some signs we assumed to be recent additions actually show up in some of the earliest black and white films in the archive. After all even the name of our archive infers its use to research where NZSL has come from! In order to be able to track the use of certain signs more easily, we intend to provide transcripts of the languages used in the videos, so that this can become a searchable item. We therefore welcome an contribution of time to submit a translation in English of what is being signed in each video. This would be a huge help and open up the archive.

Tag videos:

Being a video archive, people may want to search for video containing a certain person. While we thought we have a pretty good knowledge of people in the Deaf community, we have found it difficult to identify quite a number of people seen in the videos. This may be because they passed away before we were born, or they just look different with those huge sideburns in the 70s! If you see someone in the video and notice that their name is not tagged, please let us know and we will add them to the list of names for that video. Also if you know something about the event or the location that you do not see listed in the video, please let us know.

Tell a Story:

We know that the videos you see in this archive are just one view of the overall picture, and that it is stories about being there that can bring the videos alive. We therefore invite you to record your stories about events and people you see featured in this archive. For example were you at the Christchurch World Games for the Deaf, what was it like? Do you have a story about Bruce McHattie or DanielĀ Beech? Any story, preferably your own experience rather than a story someone else has told you, if it is related to one of the video you see on SignDNA than we would love to see it. (For information about how to record your story please contact us).

To get in touch, please email