NZ Sign Language interpreters

NZ Sign Language interpreters help ensure Deaf people can access information and support and participate more fully in society.

What does an interpreter do? 

Many Deaf people use New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) as their first or preferred language. 

A sign language interpreter facilitates communication between Deaf and hearing people by interpreting between NZSL and spoken language. This helps to ensure Deaf people have access to services and can participate more easily in society. 

An interpreter’s role is to facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing participants, not to be involved in a meeting or appointment in any other way. 

The Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ) is a professional body that sets a code of conduct and/or code of ethics, including requiring interpreters to maintain confidentiality and impartiality.

What interpreter services are available?

There are a number of interpreter booking agencies. Some are specialised booking agencies for NZSL interpreters, while provide others provide a range of language interpreters, including NZSL interpreters.

Name of interpreter service

About interpreter service


iSign is an NZSL interpreter booking service provided by Deaf Aotearoa. It provides qualified NZSL interpreters for jobs around New Zealand. iSign’s NZSL interpreters are members of SLIANZ.

iSign provides on-site face-to-face interpreters, which is generally the most appropriate way to ensure full accessibility and participation.

Connect Interpreting 

Connect Interpreting is a nationwide service that provides sign language interpreting services for all types of assignments. This service only contracts qualified interpreters who are SLIANZ members.

WordsWorth Interpreting

WordsWorth Interpreting provides onsite and online NZSL interpreter bookings and interpreter coordination throughout Aotearoa New Zealand for all types of assignment, including specialised subject areas.

Interpreting New Zealand 

Interpreting New Zealand is a general interpreter booking agency that includes NZSL interpreters.

New Zealand Video Interpreting Service 

In some situations, remote video interpreting may be useful, for example, if you can’t get an interpreter or you just need to have a simple conversation. New Zealand Video Interpreting Service is a free service that provides access to an online interpreter over Skype from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.

(New Zealand VIS, 2016)

Who pays for health-related interpreter services?

Your local district health board is responsible for paying for interpreters for health appointments at services provided by the DHB, such as public hospital appointments. The iSign service covers other health-related appointments, such as seeing your GP or going to a private hospital.

Who pays for other interpreter services?

For other services not mentioned here, it is expected that organisations pay for NZSL interpreting services as part of ensuring access for all New Zealanders and recognising New Zealand Sign Language as an official language of New Zealand.


Who pays?

NZ government agencies and Crown entities, such as the police, WINZ, Oranga Tamariki,  ACC, courts, councils, Parliament and DHB hospitals

Paid for by the agency or DHB

Health services, such as non-DHB health appointments including GP visits and private hospitals appointments

Other services such as housing, banks and budgeting, parenting and childcare, disability services, legal appointments, driving courses and tests, funerals and tangi, and support services, such as Women's Refuge

Paid for by Deaf Aotearoa’s iSign service

Employment or training

Apply to Workbridge for funding

Schools, including Deaf parents’ access to their children’s schooling, eg, for enrolments, parent-teacher interviews, special assemblies, prizegiving, school productions

Paid for by Deaf Aotearoa’s iSign service

Other activities, such as church services, family events and so on

 Not funded

Click the image below, then scroll down and click on the video to view.

(Isign, Deaf Aotearoa, 2018)

Learn more

The following links provide further information about NZ Sign Language interpreters. 

A guide to working with NZSL interpreters New Zealand Sign Language Board
Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ) SLIANZ maintains a national directory of qualified members, which contains contact information for interpreters as well as their speciality areas. This list can be searched by name, region or work preference. 

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.