Television New Zealand Archive

A korero with Riwia Fox, Maori NZSL interpreter

1997
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Riwia Fox, a recent graduate from the DIploma in NZSL Interpreting programme at AIT (now AUT University), is interviewed about her work as a NZSL interpreter. At that time Riwia was one of only two qualified NZSL interpreters in New Zealand who are Maori,  (the other being Stephanie Awheto). The interviewer, Matai Smith, asks her why there are so few qualified interpreters who are Maori, and Riwia answers that one possible barrier might be the course being located in Auckland and not many Maori people, particularly those fluent in both te Reo Maori and NZSL, live in Auckland nor want to move to Auckland to do the 2-year diploma. Others simply will not have heard about the interpreting programme.

Riwia explains that one of her challenges as an interpreter is ensuring that people recognise her as a ‘communication facilitator’ and not an advocate or support person for either the Deaf party or the hearing party. Qualified interpreters are still relatively new in New Zealand, with the first modern cohort having graduated in 1994.

Riwia encourages Maori people to consider learning NZSL, and then consider if they’d like to train as a NZSL interpreter.

At the end of the interview, Riwia interprets a message about the Maori electoral option for  Maori Deaf viewers.

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