Mojo Mathers is New Zealand’s first deaf Member of Parliament. She is a list MP for the Green Party. She has been profoundly deaf since her birth but lip-reads well and can use New Zealand sign language. She also speaks clearly.
In spite of her hearing disability, Ms Mathers has an Honours degree in Mathematics and a Masters degree in Conservation Forestry. She has worked as a senior policy advisor for the Greens since 2006. She has been very active in environmental matters, especially water rights. She helped to stop the building of a dam to provide water for dairy farmers.
Parliament has provided her with a laptop computer and software at her desk in Parliament to help her understand what other MPs are saying. However, there are some problems with the software and she wants Parliament to pay for a person to take notes for her. The Speaker of the House said the Green Party should pay for this person. Mojo says that the Party funding is to help with Party work. For example, this money pays for office staff.
Louise Carroll from the National Foundation for the Deaf said that it would be helpful to many deaf people if Parliament TV had written captions on the screen. She also asked why New Zealand Sign Language is not used in Parliament. It is our third official language along with English and Maori.
Tomorrow, Mojo Mathers will give her first speech in Parliament which will be translated by sign-language interpreters.
Listen to May 4th 2009 to hear more about New Zealand Sign Language.
list MP – the Green Party got 11.1% of the vote in the elections which gave them 14 seats. Mojo Mathers was number 14 on their list.
profoundly deaf – cannot hear even loud noises
conservation – keeping forests
policy – ideas and actions for the Party
water rights – ownership of water
• Do you think Parliament should provide equipment or facilities for disabled MPs, for example wheelchair access if needed?
• Should a Party choose to put a disabled person on their list? Who should pay for someone to take notes for a deaf MP – the Party or Parliament?