The Deaf Studies Research Unit (DSRU) was established at VUW in 1995. Its roots go back to the research of Dr Marianne Collins-Ahlgren who wrote the first major description of the grammar of NZSL in 1989 as a PhD thesis (Aspects of New Zealand Sign Language), under the supervision of Professor Graeme Kennedy in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. Collins-Ahlgren’s research named and validated the language of the NZ Deaf community. As a result of changing consciousness of NZSL, the Deaf Association of New Zealand approached Professor Kennedy for support to make a dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language. The Dictionary project was undertaken at VUW by a team of deaf and hearing researchers in collaboration with the Deaf community, between 1991-1997, and the Deaf Studies Research Unit was formalised during that time.