Rebecca Peri

Rebecca Peri

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Arts in New Zealand Sign Language – English Interpreting

Te Rarawa, Ngāti Porou

She has wanted to be a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter for as long as she can remember, says Rebecca Peri who is studying the Bachelor of Arts in New Zealand Sign Language – English Interpreting.

“I’m a CODA – a child of Deaf adults – and I’m Māori, so being able to step into not two worlds but three has been a challenging journey. I’ve watched interpreters all my life and felt in awe of their talent and skills, and wondered what it would be like to be in their shoes. I wanted to be able to give back to the Deaf community that has given me this gift.

“In this industry what we need are Māori interpreters who are fluent in te reo. There’s a huge demand for trilingual interpreters – there are more Māori Deaf than Māori interpreters, and the community needs them to access their marae and te ao Maori.”

Inspired to help Māori Deaf
Her degree has helped her perfect her own skills, Rebecca says.

“I’ve enjoyed learning new things about the Deaf community’s history and the linguistic side of New Zealand Sign Language and English. One of my strongest memories is from my first year at AUT, when I was in my Deaf Studies class. We were learning about how the childhood of Māori Deaf is often rough as they’re being kept away from their families. I came up with many ways to help this community and its future.

“I’d love to work in a range of jobs, from education to te ao Māori, health and many more. In my future, I see myself setting up an interpreting service organisation for Māori Deaf to improve access for Māori Deaf and connect them back to their whenua.”

Her studies haven’t been without ups and downs, she admits.

“My biggest challenge has been doubting myself and thinking I wasn’t good enough to pass or succeed. AUT has amazing support services, and the interpreting classes offer advice and skills on how to improve during my time here and prepare myself for my future endeavours.”

Advice for other students
Now in the final year of her studies, Rebecca has some great advice for other students.

“Don’t be afraid to try something new and different.”

She also has some specific advice for people who want to learn more about New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf culture.

“Come to AUT, and if you want to take it up a notch, do the interpreting degree when you feel ready.”