The New Zealand Deaf Games has a long history that began with a simple Table Tennis competition between two Deaf Societies in 1949. The New Zealand Deaf Games has gone through many changes, but none so much as the changes that will be seen at the next New Zealand Deaf Games.
The changing state of the Deaf Community, here in New Zealand and around the world, has presented some challenges for the Deaf organisations that serve the Deaf Community. This is no different for Deaf Sports New Zealand and the New Zealand Deaf sports community, and that is why Deaf Sports New Zealand has been looking at keeping up with the times and ensuring that the New Zealand Deaf Games remains relevant to today.
Historically the New Zealand Deaf Games have been held annually during Labour Weekend, and recently only every two years. Labour Weekend provides some challenges, particularly with the short weekend, and the school exams which provides a barrier for school students wanting to participate. The new changes to the New Zealand Deaf Games sees the Deaf Games being held in January, before the school calendar starts.
The New Zealand Deaf Games will also be split into two separate competitions:
- Aotearoa Turi Shield:
Aotearoa Turi Shield sports will eventually be restricted to those with a governing National Sports Association. Sports traditionally played at New Zealand Deaf Games will continue to be given the opportunity to be part of Aotearoa Turi Shield. Athletes will qualify with membership to the National Sports Association, as well as a hearing loss of 55dB in the better ear (as per ICSD regulations). Points towards the Aotearoa Turi Shield and medals will be up for grabs
- NZSL Games:
NZSL Games sports will be varied and suitable for a range of ages and abilities. There will be no restrictions on those without a hearing loss.
The NZSL Games component of the New Zealand Deaf Games will see families and friends coming together, to compete against one another, or as a team. It will not matter whether you are Deaf or hearing. Children of Deaf Adults (CODA), brothers and sisters, NZSL Interpreters, and workmates will all be welcome to participate, as long as they meet the qualification standards. We also look to ensure many of the Social Grade sports will be age and ability appropriate with mini-golf, laser-strike, and dodge-ball being some ideas being bounced around.
The New Zealand Deaf Games will not only be limited to being a sports event. Deaf Sports New Zealand will be opening up the event and working with other organisations to host a camp, whether it may be a Youth Camp, or a Family Camp. There will also be opportunities for Arts and Theatre to be involved with expos and presentations. The opportunities are endless.
We look forward to this exciting new chapter.