Susan was a very active person who loved being involved in the Deaf community, regularly attending many community events. A keen sportswoman and renowned Deaf golfer, Susan could be found on the green most Saturdays. A New Zealand sporting representative, Susan was well known for her independence (and leisure time!), and certainly lived her life well with many friends and amongst other community leaders. Susan was the President of the New Zealand Deaf Association from 1994 to 1998 and was its Patron from 2008 to 2016. She also loved to play poker with Auckland Deaf Poker.

  • Life Stories/People

An all-round sportsperson

The New Zealand Deaf ladies place third at the 2008 World Deaf Golf Championships in Perth, Australia.

Susan and her golf buddies from North Shore Golf Club.

Susan ready to tackle the course at the 2008 World Deaf Golf Championships in Perth.

Susan represented New Zealand in three sports: table tennis at the inaugural Trans-Tasman Games in 1975, air rifle shooting at the 1989 World Deaf Games in Christchurch, but her primary sport was golf. Susan was a skilled golfer; the best New Zealand Deaf representative golfer in New Zealand Deaf history, representing New Zealand numerous times, both as an individual and part of a team. She played at the 2008 World Deaf Golf Championships in Perth and the 2010 World Deaf Golf Championships at St Andrews, Scotland. In those international competitions Susan came 4th with a team ranking of 3rd for the ladies (Perth), and 2nd equal in the St Andrews competition (Scotland).

In 1990, she was the Auckland Deaf Society Sportsperson of the year for golf. Golf was Susan’s number one passion and she could be seen out on the green each weekend representing her club, the North Shore Golf Club, come rain or shine! She had a handicap of just 5. The Club now hosts a yearly competition for the ‘Susan Hamilton Trophy’ in memory.

A unique career

Susan speaking at Kelston Deaf Education Centre, with Peter Murray next to her.

Authored “The Chronicles of Titirangi, Mt Wellington & Kelston Schools for the Deaf” (2010).

Susan took a draughting course at Auckland Institute of Technology and worked as a draughtsperson at the Auckland Regional Council, at a time where drawings were manually drawn by pencil! She worked there for 23 years until she was laid off. She also worked internationally in London and Melbourne. Her career was unique for a Deaf person at that time. There were no interpreters in those days, including for her course which she managed to complete despite having very limited access. Susan’s story is covered in book ‘The People of the Eye: Stories from the Deaf World’ (Locker McKee, 2001).

Susan was also an avid bookworm with a fantastic memory for Deaf history. As a past student boarder at both the Titirangi and Kelston School for Deaf Children from 1958 to 1963, her vast knowledge, passion and skill for Deaf school history was invaluable. She worked at Kelston as an archivist, and published several books, one of them being: “The Chronicles of Titirangi, Mt Wellington & Kelston Schools for the Deaf” (2010). She successfully organised two School for Deaf reunions – the 60th in 2002 and the 70th in 2012, where she gave a talk on the working archives of the Deaf School Museum. Her expertise in this area meant she was known internationally in this field.

Involved in various threads of the Deaf Community

Susan carrying out her Patron duties, opening the NZSL Week awards at Te Papa.

Susan with friends: Anna Dubbelt, Rachel Noble, Shona McGhie, Megan Mansfield, Lynette Pivac, Susan Hamilton, Tony Walton, Susan Thomas, Kevin Pivac.

Susan signing to audience.

Her advocacy began in the early 1990s by representing Auckland Deaf Society, along with Jeff Went, to advocate for captions on television broadcasting. She successfully advocated to NZ On Air to fund the establishment of subtitled TV programmes beginning in 1991 for the TV1 News at six o’clock.

Susan was the President of the New Zealand Deaf Association from 1994 to 1998 and was its Patron from 2008 to 2016. She received a Long Service Standing Award from Deaf Aotearoa in 2019 in recognition of her incredible contribution to the Deaf community.

Susan was the Auckland Regional Editor of the NZSL Dictionary Team.

She also participated in the New Zealand Games (previously the Deaf Sports Convention) numerous times. Her passion for sports also led to her being the Host Secretary for ADS Combined Sports for the NZ Deaf Games 1990.