Tuesday, 7 May 2024 - 10:13am

Signing on

2 min read

News article photos (5 items)

Carter with, from left, Det Ros Newson, Con Stephanie Cox, Sgt Richard Kennedy, Con Nicko McGregor and Detective Lizzie Campbell
Carter teaching the team some sign language.
Carter out on the RHIB with Constable Nicholas (Nicko) McGregor.
Detective Ros Newson and Constable Stephanie Cox signing.

Anywhere, any time – that’s a mantra which applies to policing, and it is hoped it can apply to New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) as well.

To mark 2024 New Zealand Sign Language Week – theme ‘An Aotearoa where anyone can sign anywhere’ – young Police fan and sign language user Carter teamed up with Wellington Maritime Unit. You can watch the resulting video above.New Zealand Sign Language week logo for 2024

Detective Rosalind (Ros) Newson introduced Carter to Police and he has previously helped with Police messaging around sign language awareness – a valuable skill in such a communication-focused profession.

This time, eight-year-old Carter and his mum Bridget went aboard the Lady Liz to help spread the message that anyone can learn to sign and are encouraged to, anywhere, any time.

“Carter loves anything with motors – he’s a big fan of cars and now I am fairly sure he’s going to be a big fan of boats,” says Bridget. 

Bridget is not deaf but Carter’s father is, so Carter’s NZSL ability is far ahead of most users of his age.

Bridget says Carter was thrilled by the visit to the Maritime base. “He got to drive the boat and had a ride on the RHIB with Nicko [Constable Nicholas McGregor]. He was very interested in everything the officers showed him.”

In return, Carter taught the staff a few signs – how to sign their names and some other useful words. “He can’t wait to talk about his day on his Instagram page,” says Bridget. 

Ros introduced Carter to Police three years ago. “The deaf community is very small and one of my family members is deaf and knew Carter and his family,” says Ros.  

“We figured Carter would be a great conduit for getting messaging across about NZSL Week. He really enjoys working with us so makes a great ambassador for the deaf community.” 

Carter gives Sergeant Richard Kennedy some tips on signing 'New Zealand Sign Language'. 
Carter gives Sergeant Richard Kennedy some tips on signing 'New Zealand Sign Language'.

Sergeant Richard Kennedy, from Wellington Police Maritime Unit, says the team enjoyed hosting Carter – and they understand the value of what he taught them.

“It was such a pleasure to spend some time with Carter and his mum and show them what we do in the Wellington Maritime Police Unit,” he says.

“It was really special to learn even just a little bit of sign language and communicate directly with Carter using sign that we had just learned.

“There are a few thousand people considered to be deaf in New Zealand and for Police to know even a little sign language is definitely worthwhile.”

New Zealand Sign Language week runs from 6 to 12 May.