Northland's deaf community are rallying to get sign language interpreters at major events, anniversaries and festivals such as Waitangi Day and Anzac Day commemorations.
Deaf Action NZ and Tū Tāngata Turi want the Government to fully fund New Zealand sign language interpreters for formal coverage of events, along with social interpreting throughout the day.
Deaf Action New Zealand chairperson Kim Robinson, a Whangārei resident, said deaf and disabled groups still struggle to be fully included in commemoration events due to the lack of access, such as social sign language interpreters.
Communication is important for everyone at any event, Robinson said.
"Local festivals are not fully funded to cover New Zealand Sign Language access in both formal and social formats," he said.
"We need a guarantee that there's funding available to be able to book an interpreter for a local event without having to jump through hoops."
Deaf Action NZ and Tū Tāngata Turi handed a petition with 503 signatures to Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime in Whangārei on March 31.
Prime has lodged the petition with the Petitions Office in Parliament and it was presented to the House on April 6. It will now be referred to a select committee for consideration.
Robinson said the petition was a result of "exhausting our options of getting social interpreters funded for at Waitangi Treaty Grounds for some time".
"Waitangi Treaty Grounds is committed to accessibility, yet it has funding limits - hence this petition to request the Government increase the amount of funding they set aside for event accessibility."
Robinson said while formal proceedings such as Anzac Day dawn services and speeches by the Governor General and Prime Minister are already funded, deaf people need access to interpreters to communicate with friends, whānau and stall holders at public events.
Not having access excludes deaf people from participating in commemoration events fully, he said.
Robinson said he would like to see up to four interpreters at each event, depending on its size and duration.
They would also be needed to help celebrate the new public holiday of Matariki in 2022.
"New Zealand has hundreds of various community-based public events each year," Robinson said.
"It is our hope that over time events accessibility will be automatically inclusive.
"For several years Matariki in Onerahi was celebrated with a NZSL interpreter volunteering time. It is our belief that interpreters should be funded to cover this kind of work."
Sign language is an official language in New Zealand.
In 2019, Robinson was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the deaf community.
This includes helping campaign for NZ Sign Language to become an official language and ensuring access is available to the deaf during Civil Defence emergencies.
Prime thanked Robinson and his organisation for "their ongoing advocacy for greater accessibility for and inclusion of our deaf community".