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Merge NZ Milestones

As we continue on our journey and work hard to make our vision into reality, it's important we pause along the way to note important achievements for Merge NZ.

 

Here we will share with you moments that have helped to shape Merge NZ into who we are as a social enterprise company today. Thank you for supporting us by achieving our vision "Normalise NZSL".

2021

On News One again

Kiwi families with Deaf children are experiencing a shift in attitudes, moving away from solely focusing on fixing hearing impairments through cochlear implants. NZ Sign Language advocate Victoria Lessing notes a change where parents increasingly embrace NZSL, fostering better communication and acknowledgment for Deaf children.

 

Amee Hudson from Tauranga incorporates NZSL into her family life as her daughter Brielle faces progressive hearing loss. Initially challenging, the family now enjoys learning sign language together, with the children adapting well. This shift marks a significant improvement in recognizing Deaf children's needs and affirming their identities, celebrated during NZSL week.

The Launch of NZSL Club

The NZSL Club was launched by Merge NZ in May 2021, a market leader in providing quality NZSL and Deaf Culture training for businesses, organisations, families and adult learners.

Since Merge NZ’s inception in 2017, the student body has swelled to 1,000 people. Many have become interested in learning NZSL because they have connections with Deaf people including family members, colleagues, staff or customers. 

 

Merge NZ recognised the need to create a vehicle for students to continue their linguistic journey
outside the class environment. They also wanted to give students who have completed the curriculum to Advanced Level a way to maintain their skills.

If you are interested to set up NZSL Club in your local hometown, please contact Merge NZ.

Exploring Deaf Culture at The Hearing House

In a groundbreaking departure from its medical-centric approach, Hearing House welcomed a Deaf presenter and NZSL interpreter for an eye-opening Deaf Culture presentation. This transformative event left a lasting impact on staff, incl. administrators, speech therapists, and teachers.

For the first time, they were immersed in the richness of Deaf culture, gaining a newfound appreciation for its beauty. The visit sparked hope for the future as attendees embraced the idea of integrating NZSL into their work to support the young Deaf and hard of hearing generation.

This historic occasion marked a pivotal moment in Hearing House's history, signifying a shift towards inclusivity and empowerment for individuals with hearing differences. It set the stage for a more enlightened and inclusive approach to their mission.

2020

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Celebrating NZSL Week at Westfield

Our Merge NZ team was honored to lead a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) performance with renowned Kiwi celebrity Sam Bunkall at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Albany, Auckland as part of NZSL Week.

 

Other NZSL performers, including interpreters, also showcased their signing skills. The event was well attended and the Deaf community appreciated the accessibility. It was a memorable moment for us, as we debuted in showcasing the beauty and inclusivity of NZSL to a broader audience.

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TeachSign - NZSL Level 1 resources

With support from the NZSL Board, the Office for Disability Issues contracted Merge for a large-scale one-year project to enhance and develop new NZSL Level One resources in 2019-2020.

 

Excitedly, TeachSign and Merge NZ launched a range of new resources, including over 100 videos, alongside assessment materials, all aimed at supporting NZSL Level One teaching and learning.

 

This achievement is significant, as NZSL tutors across New Zealand have long faced challenges in accessing comprehensive resources to enhance their teaching and deepen their understanding of NZSL grammar.

 

For years, tutors have relied solely on in-person training, making these resources invaluable tools for effective NZSL instruction.

Level 1 Teachers Training Tour in NZ

Merge NZ successfully conducted three full-day workshops across different locations during term one: Christchurch in February with 8 NZSL teachers, Auckland in March with 12, and New Plymouth with 11.

 

The workshops covered various topics, including TeachSign's NZSL Level One grammar, guidance on getting registered with Registration Advisory Panel, and outlining the responsibilities of NZSL teachers.

 

We extend our sincere gratitude to Ako Aotearoa for their generous financial support, which made these training sessions possible. Handswaves!

TeachSign - NZSL Level 2 was another success!

CreateNZSL invited Merge NZ to collaborate with a team of 35 people to develop a higher curriculum focusing on adult community education - a dream come true for many New Zealanders.

Despite interesting challenges posed by Covid-19 lockdowns, we successfully achieved this milestone.

The NZSL Level 2 final curriculum, along with teaching resources, was launched at the NZSL Teachers Association Conference in August 2020 at Otago University in Dunedin.

It was a true honor to be part of this incredible teamwork.

Congratulations to TeachSign/NZSLTA for reaching this significant milestone for the NZSL teaching community.

A Triple Triumph at the NZ Deaf Film Festival

Merge NZ achieved remarkable success, winning three prestigious awards. Recognised for awards:

  • "Best New Zealand Film"

  • "Audience Choice for Best Film" 

  • "Best Performer".

 

It was a testament to our team's talent and dedication. Uncovering hidden acting abilities was a delightful surprise amidst our journey.

 

These accolades not only celebrated our achievements but also fueled our passion to continue pushing boundaries and creating impactful content through filming. 

Merge NZ's Own Awards for our Teachers

Merge proudly presents its inaugural NZSL Teachers Awards, celebrating our team's dedication and innovation in education.

 

Among the recipients, four outstanding individuals stand out: The Extra Mile Award recognises tireless dedication; the Promising Teacher Award acknowledges budding talent; the Teaching Strategies Award applauds innovative approaches, and the Problem Solver Award honors adept solutions.

 

These awards symbolise Merge's commitment to excellence and continuous improvement in education. They reflect our team's unwavering dedication to nurturing young minds and shaping the future. Congratulations to our NZSL exceptional teachers for their remarkable achievements and contributions to the NZSL teaching community!

2019

Finalist at the Business Award

In July 2019, at the Network NZ Business Finalist Announcement, Merge NZ received recognition as a finalist for the "Most Innovative Business" award.

 

The acknowledgment was deeply gratifying, reflecting our team's unwavering dedication and inventive spirit. It reaffirmed our commitment to pushing boundaries and embracing innovation in all aspects of our work.

 

This achievement fueled our passion to continue pioneering new ideas and solutions, further cementing Merge NZ's reputation as a leader in innovation within our industry.

Deaf View 4 Conference

In October 2019, at the Deaf View 4 Conference in Auckland, the Director of Merge NZ was invited as a Guest Speaker with the opening presentation titled "Mana within the Deaf Eco-System: Social, Economic, and Political".

Some of the key points included highlighting the changes in the lives of Deaf people since the 1970s when access became available with the presence of NZSL interpreters. The presentation also addressed the emergence of NZSL-related job opportunities for Deaf individuals, as well as challenges faced in Deaf education for both children and adults, such as the lack of recognition of Deaf leaders. Practical solutions were also proposed to uphold and preserve Deaf Mana.

First Overseas trip

Merge NZ representatives attended the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) Conference in July 2019. We had to learn ASL to understand the presenters at the conference, which was challenging but fun.

 

You may be surprised to learn that there are different sign languages. Indeed, there are over 300 different sign languages around the world.

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other ASL professionals such as teachers, lecturers, business owners, ASL news presenters, etc.

Mergers Make Headlines on TV One News

Both co-directors emphasised the importance of encouraging businesses to embrace language learning during their interview with a TV reporter.

 

Highlighting examples like NZSL being taught at Auckland Zoo, Auckland War Memorial Museum, and MOTAT, they stressed how frontline staff could better communicate with Deaf or hard of hearing customers.

 

Integrating NZSL education into the workplace not only fosters inclusivity but also offers staff professional development and team-building opportunities. It's a win-win scenario, enhancing communication skills while creating a more inclusive and cohesive work environment.

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Empowering Shortland Street Stars with NZSL Skills

Merge NZ embarked on empowering Shortland Street stars with NZSL skills, including romantic vocabularies like "you are hot" and "I love you."

 

As actors embraced this challenge, anticipation grew for NZSL's debut on national TV. This initiative aimed to enhance linguistic repertoire and foster inclusivity for the Deaf community. With dedication, stars immersed in learning, paving the way for a future where NZSL seamlessly integrates into mainstream media, enriching the viewing experience.

 

Let's await the day when these skills light up screens nationwide, bridging language barriers and celebrating diversity on Shortland Street.

 

Merge's Launch in BOP

Merge's Launch in Tauranga

Merge NZ is now expanding its reach to the sunny Bay of Plenty Region! We are thrilled to announce our third successful launch event, held at Tauranga Historical Village on February 22, 2019.

 

Various representatives, including the Mayor of Tauranga, organizations, and friends from the Deaf community, were invited to join us for the launch. Merge NZ extends its gratitude to all guests who attended the event, and we look forward to promoting the normalisation of NZSL in the Bay of Plenty region.

2018

NZSL for Families - Mentors Training

For the first time in history, a national training program was delivered in early 2018 by Deaf trainers to a group of 46 NZSL mentors in six locations (two in Auckland, two in Christchurch, and two in Palmerston North).

 

Feedback received from NZSL mentors indicated that the training was helpful in enhancing their understanding of the NZSL for Families curriculum (Units 1-7), as well as teaching and learning resources specifically designed for families of Deaf children aged 6 to 12 years old. Merge NZ and the team of NZSL mentors would like to express their gratitude to the NZSL Board for their financial support.

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NZSL Online Hub Survey project

Merge NZ had the privilege of being asked by the NZSL Board to research the need for a central NZSL Online Hub/website. We held four community meetings and received over 240 responses to our online survey.

 

The report has been submitted to the NZSL Board and the Office of Disability Issues, and this project was completed in September 2018.

 

We look forward to the release of more information to the public at a later date. Thank you to all who completed the online survey (240 respondents filled out the survey online, and 15 organisations provided feedback).

Merge's Launch in Waikato

Merge NZ is pleased with our successful launch evening celebration at Hamilton Gardens during NZSL Week 2018. Various Deaf-related organisations, members of the Deaf Community, NZSL interpreters, teachers of the Deaf, the Deputy Mayor, and politicians were invited to the launch.

 

Guest speakers, including Martin Gallagher (Deputy Mayor of Hamilton City Council) and Hon. David Bennett from the National party, delivered great speeches. Stories from grassroots Deaf community members were also shared. Merge NZ extends thanks to all guests who attended the launch and to the nine sponsors who made the event a positive and memorable experience (the cake was beautiful and delicious!).

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Merge NZ launches MySign service

MySign is a new product from Merge NZ that was launched in October 2018. It offers an online support service for learning New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) from the convenience of your home or anywhere in the world.

 

This service provides live NZSL tuition and is not meant to replace face-to-face NZSL courses, as they are valuable for all learners.

 

MySign NZSL Online course is especially helpful for individuals living in locations with limited access to NZSL teachers or onsite courses.

NZSL Presentaion at the Rotary Club

Merge NZ was invited to give a presentation in NZSL, with a sign language interpreter present, at the Rotary Club in Henderson, Auckland in mid-2018 regarding our NZSL promotions and our desire to help Deaf children access NZSL from an early age.

 

We would like to thank the Rotary Club's members and supporters for their generous donation toward our new and exciting project, developing a NZSL App and Storybook for Deaf children called "Baobab."

Merge NZ worked in partnership with Gallaudet University and the NZSL app was released in 2019.

 

Merge NZ turns One

Merge NZ celebrated our first birthday in February 2018, at the NZSL family camp in Taupo - the very place the "merge" concept was born.

In just one year, our business journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. From humble beginnings to remarkable achievements, we've surpassed every milestone with resilience and dedication. As we celebrate our first anniversary, we honor the journey, the challenges overcome, and the bright future ahead. Cheers to many more successes!

2017

Merge NZ Launch: A Promising Beginning

The launch of Merge was a success, with over 70 guests attending on Friday, April 7, 2017, at the historic Parnell Community Centre (Jubilee Building) in Auckland central, New Zealand.

 

The unveiling of Merge NZ's logo and branding marked the crucial first step in the organisation's long journey of hard work.

 

Co-Directors Victoria Lessing (Deaf) and Jaime Brown (hearing) founded Merge NZ. 

Auckland's Deaf Expo

It was a pleasure to assist in organising and hosting the 3rd Deaf Expo during the 'International Week of the Deaf' in Auckland in September 2017. The theme for the week was "Inclusion," so it was fitting to celebrate all of our Deaf-led businesses, organisations, and services available for the community.


Congratulations to the committee for all of your hard work! Thank you to all Deaf-related organizations for your participation. And a big thank you to the approximately 200 people who attended the Deaf Expo at Winchester Entertainment in Auckland City.

NZSL Promotion at ECE Expo

In May 2017, Merge NZ attended the Great ECE Expo in Auckland to promote our services.

 

We relished the opportunity to engage with members of the public eager to learn NZSL.

 

It was heartwarming to witness several families of Deaf children enjoying our NZSL stories, complete with numerous facial expressions and hand movements.

Attitude Awards and more...

Merge NZ team are very proud of our very own Victoria Lessing who was a finalist in the 2017 Attitude Award Entrepuneur Award. Victoria with other Deaf community members went along to the awards in September 2017 and enjoyed seeing other inspirational people break down barriers. 


Victoria also did "Question Time" for Attitude TV, answering questions that people commonly wonder about being Deaf. Children and adults alike benefit from learning about Deaf Culture and what it means to be Deaf in NZ. Even in 2018 many people have not have the opportunity to meet and learn about this vibrant community. 

Supporting NZSL Week 2017

The Merge NZ team actively participated in NZSL Week 2017 with a variety of projects, activities, and events aimed at promoting and raising awareness of this rich and beautiful sign language.

 

One highlight was teaching the NZSL National Anthem to over 500 children at an assembly in Auckland. We also visited shopping malls, schools, early childhood education centers (ECEs), and community centers to teach NZSL to young Kiwis.

Signs of Professionaism Conference

In November 2017, both co-directors attended and presented at the 'Signs of Professionalism' Conference organised by joint organisations. Key partners included AUT Sign Language Section, NZSL Teachers Association (NZSLTA), Sign Language Interpreters Association of NZ (SLIANZ), and Victoria University of Wellington Deaf Studies Research Unit (DSRU).

 

The conference marked an important milestone in the NZ Deaf community, celebrating and reflecting on 25 years of AUT's NZSL-English Interpreting Programme. We are immensely proud of the professionalism, knowledge, and experience within our Deaf community. Congratulations on the 25th anniversary of NZSL teaching and interpreting in NZ.

E-Merge Newsletters

When Merge NZ was established in 2017, our aim was to inform and engage communities, including schools, organisations, businesses, government agencies, and the Deaf community, by keeping them up to date with our work.

Merge NZ used to send out e-newsletters at the end of each term from 2017 to 2019. Although we no longer distribute these newsletters, we plan to update this website and update you all with our latest news and achievements (projects, promotions, trainings, etc.).

E-Merge Newsletter

 

Since 2017 - 2019

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