The New Zealand Deaf community contains many leaders and many legends. The growing and vibrant community we have today owes a debt to a number of people, each with inspiring stories of dedication and service. SignDNA looks forward to bringing you more stories and biographies as the archive grows, and you too will have an opportunity to contribute your stories about the people from the Deaf community who have inspired you.

For now, due to time and resources, we can only select a limited number of these people to showcase. We have chosen those who have received formal recognition, either as a Patron of a Deaf organisation; from the monarchy via a Queens Honour, or the Pope. SignDNA is sure you will agree that these individuals deserve to be first in line for the respect of the community for their outstanding efforts and commitment in making New Zealand a more equitable place for Deaf people. For the many others who deserve recognition – for instance, life members of their respective Deaf organisations – we ask for your patience and we will do our best to ensure they are included in this section as soon as possible.

biography
Profile

Stewart ‘Sen’ Smith (Coronation Medal)

Stewart, or Sen, as he was called – was the president of Auckland Adult Deaf Society from 1947-1954. It was later called the Auckland Deaf Society. The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
biography
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John Rua (Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal)

John Rua is a Master Carver, a living tohunga in his art. He has carved thousands of stunning artefacts which have been displayed in maraes and museums across the country, including the carving of Te Tira Hou meeting house in Auckland, Ohope Marae in Whatakane and Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum in the South Island. His most noticeable achievement was training carvers at the Ngā Hau e Whā National Marae in Christchurch, a project which took 8 years to complete.
biography
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Mary Johnson (MNZM)

Mary has contributed to the Deaf community as a hardworking and willing volunteer for over 50 years. She was recognised in the 2010 New Years Honours list when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM). She was a founding member of the Otago Deaf Society, where she served as president, and was also a founding member of the Manawatu Deaf Club.
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Noeline ‘Patty’ Still (MNZM)

Patty, born 1932, received the M.N.Z.M in 2003 for her involvement in many activities and initiatives within the Deaf community. Patty was recognised for her efforts in promoting NZSL through her teaching of NZSL, and her work raising public awareness via her performances with the Christchurch Silent Singers group.
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Daniel ‘Danny’ Beech (Benemerenti Medal)

Daniel (Danny) Beech was born in Pahiatua in 1942 and attended St Dominic’s School for Deaf Children from the age of 5. Danny embarked on a life crammed with commitment and loyalty to the NZ Deaf community.
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Jennifer Brain (QSM)

Jennifer received the Queens Service Medal in 2007 for services to the New Zealand Deaf Community. She was well known for her leadership with the New Zealand Association for the Deaf. Jennifer became the first Deaf Leadership Tutor promoting community and Deaf youth leadership, before becoming the first Deaf Chief Executive Officer in 1999. Through her work, Jennifer was ahead of her time with the strategic planning of many Deaf community projects including Deaf awareness and Deaf leadership.
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Hemi Hema (QSM)

Hemi Hema received the Queen’s Service Medal (Q.S.M) in 2012 for his services to the Māori Deaf community. Along with Karen Pointon in the same year, Hemi was the first Māori Deaf person to receive such an honour.
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Elizabeth ‘Maree’ Carroll (QSM)

Maree has given decades of generous service to the community in which she lives. Maree was heavily involved in organising the St Dominic's School for the Deaf school reunions which enabled the school community to remain connected over many decades. Maree was instrumental in establishing the Manawatu Deaf Society, taking a leading role.
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Patrick Thompson (QSM)

Patrick was of Ngati Paoa/Ngati Whanaunga descent. He was instrumental in organising the first National Hui for Māori Deaf in 1993. Throughout his career, Patrick acted as an advisor to many groups in the Māori and Deaf communities. Patrick was a strong advocate for training and supporting more trilingual interpreters, and for empowering Māori Deaf people to have greater access to both mainstream society and Māori tikanga.
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Lynette Pivac (MBE)

In 1996, Lynette was awarded the Member of British Empire for her services in Deaf education and sign language. She mostly initiated the development of NZSL resources, the training of NZSL tutors and involvement in NZSL teaching issues at national level. She advocated for NZSL and Deaf Studies to be introduced into Deaf education and was the first Deaf Board of Trustees Chairperson.
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Susan Hamilton

Susan was a very active sportswoman who loved being involved in the Deaf community, regularly attending all community events. A renowned Deaf golfer who could be found out on the green each Saturday, Susan was also the President of the Deaf Association from 1994 to 1998 and its Patron from 2008 to 2016.
biography
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Anthony ‘Tony’ Walton (CNZM)

Tony received the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 for his services to the Deaf community. Tony has had a broad involvement in many areas of the Deaf community, having been President of the NZ Deaf Sports Association and successfully hosting the World Deaf Games in 1989.