Kristina Iuli is a sign language interpreter at Unitec, who’s proud to break down barriers for people with disabilities. We’re celebrating her mahi this week as part of National Sign Language Week.
Kristina is an Access Coordinator and NZ Sign Language Interpreter at Unitec, supporting the development of an inclusive environment, liaising with lecturers and students in identifying support needs for students with disabilities, and responding in a timely manner with the right support. Sometimes as a Sign Language Interpreter for Deaf students she goes into their classes and interprets the content simultaneously into NZ Sign Language. She has also interpreted the Unitec Graduations for many years. She trained at AUT in 2000, but prior to that spent many years living overseas with her family. Born in Samoa, she moved to Wellington with her family when she was two years old, and grew up in Newtown.
What does NZ Sign Language mean to you and why is it important to raise awareness of it?
“It’s the third official language of New Zealand, since 2006. Actually, it was only recently in 2018, New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell introduced a bill in parliament to statutorily recognise English as an official language. Deaf people are very proud of their culture and language, as they should be, it’s such a beautiful visual language. Being a qualified Sign Language Interpreter since 2002, I count it a privilege to facilitate communication between the deaf and hearing. This is what we’re about in Access4Success Disability Service, breaking down barriers.”
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
“Outside of Unitec I actually freelance for an interpreter booking agency where I interpret early morning staff meetings, Skype call centre for the Deaf, interpret weddings, funerals, consult on film sets if Sign Language is being used (two this year: Shorty St and Mean Mums), and I’m on the emergency roster for police and hospital call outs. I interpret Sunday morning service for my church, live-streamed now since COVID. I also have Saturday coffee morning mentoring sessions with professional Pacific Island ladies at my stage in life and professional Pacific Island 30+ year olds.”