• Home
  • Deaf in the Media

The media in New Zealand has not been a rich avenue of access for Deaf people. Despite a number of other countries establishing popular Deaf programmes for both children and adults, New Zealand has struggled with this concept. From early news items about Deaf schools produced by the Government’s National Film Unit, to modern documentaries on aspects of Deaf life, Deaf inclusion in media programmes has for the most part been mainstream productions about the Deaf community. These items often focus on the lives of a small group of individuals to illuminate understanding of the community as a whole by society.

News Review took a huge leap forwards in including NZSL in what was intended as a mainstream programme. NZSL has found its way onto the media from time-to-time, but on the whole this is one area that clearly needs improvement, to enable Deaf people to tell their own stories, ones that are relevant and important for them.

Featured Story
Community Life and Places

News Review

In 1981, TVNZ launched News Review – a 15 minute programme (later extended to half-an-hour). News Review was a summary of major national and international news of the week for all New Zealanders. This programme was produced in Christchurch, and was captioned.
Featured Story
Community Life and Places

The National Film Unit

From 1941 to 1950, the National Film Unit produced the Weekly Review and from 1952 to 1971, the Pictorial Parade. Government owned, the Unit’s work included visits to schools to show the country positive stories about the future of New Zealand and the good work that was being done. This included visits to Sumner and St Dominic’s School for Deaf Children.
Featured Story
Community Life and Places

Telethons

Telethons were run nationwide in New Zealand in 1975-79, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990-91, 1993 and 2009. The 24-hour fundraiser would take place in regions around New Zealand and was broadcast on TV. Viewers would be shown coverage of the telethon nearest to their location. Smaller regions would typically see coverage of the telethon in one of the main centres (Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin), and it was in those areas where Deaf people were invited to participate.
Featured Story
Community Life and Places

Documentaries

Special mention should go to Joan Bailey, who pioneered Deaf documentary making in Aotearoa New Zealand, and whose work you can view in this section. Please note that if you have a documentary to add to SignDNA, we would welcome it.