Ex-MP Mojo Mathers disappointed by cancellation of Question Time sign language interpreters

Mojo Mathers
Photo credit: Newshub/ Simon Wong

A deaf former Green MP is disappointed sign language interpreters are being scrapped from Parliament's Question Time.

High demand for the small pool of interpreters is blamed, and clerk of the House of Representatives David Wilson said they would be better used elsewhere.

"We've been told that having interpreters at Parliament every day that the House sits is putting a lot of pressure on the services they offer in other areas like at the doctor, in schools or when getting legal advice," he said.

"We've listened to those concerns and responded by returning to offering New Zealand Sign Language at Parliament for significant events.

"This will include New Zealand Sign Language interpretation during oral questions in New Zealand Sign Language Week, Budget Day for the Budget Statement presented by the Minister of Finance and speeches from party leaders. "

Mojo Mathers told Newshub she thinks the move is a backward step.

"Having access to sign interpreters in real time as its happening is really, really valued," she said

She wants to know how extra interpreters can be brought in to allow the service to continue.

"How are we going to build up and put [extra] capacity in Wellington to be able to take on and deliver the kind of access the deaf community really appreciates?" she said.

There are only 100 sign language interpreters in the country, and the main training course to become one is only available in Auckland.

"We really need to have other tertiary providers providing the interpreter course," said Ms Mathers. "Victoria University in Wellington would be a really good start."