Kirsten Smiler


This paper outlines some of the research findings of my MA Thesis, which is entitled 'Maori Deaf: Perceptions of cultural and linguistic identity of Maori members of the New Zealand Deaf community'. I asked research participants to describe the nature of their life experiences within Maori and Deaf worlds. These narratives unveiled some of the typical issues facing Maori Deaf within their day-to-day life, upbringing, language development, relationships and identification with these two worlds. Although a part of Te Ao Maori and the Deaf World, participants described feelings of being ‘on the fringes’, which they attributed to minimal cross-cultural and linguistic understanding between people from the respective worlds. Some responded to this by creating a cultural and linguistic space that was uniquely Maori Deaf. I describe some of these cross-cultural misunderstandings and introduce a model to help with understanding how participants articulated their identity as multifaceted and responsive.

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