NZSL Championships

Deafradio NZSL Championships!

A series of fun and competitive NZSL challenges that competitors perform in front of local and national audiences to celebrate the beauty of NZSL! The event showcases the technical range and artistic beauty of NZSL and the abilities of talented signers to use the language in novel and inspiring ways.


This year, we ran local heats in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and the winner of each round, and the best youth performer went through to the final in Auckland.

Did you see the heats of final? Here’s a taste of what happened! Click here to view. 

Each participant did an amazing job, plus it was the first time many had played these language games before and their performances were beyond fantastic.

And we have something for you

NZSL Championship! TOOLKIT

This video resource will help you practice for future NZSL Championship! events, to help you understand some of the games and how to practice so you can do your best performance. Maybe you could possibly win and go through to the final? Anyone can practice these games and have a great chance of success! Perhaps you don’t want to compete but just want to have great fun improving your signing skills – it doesn’t matter – you’re welcome to use this resource.

We have chosen a number of games that you can practice and can continue practicing. For each game, we will explain how to play it and what to make sure you focus on from the heats and finals, so you can role model. This resource won’t include all the games but it involves the main games involved in each heat. Good luck!

Activity 1: Animal description

This game is lots of fun and easy to make your own. NZSL is fantastic at describing visuals; people, things – animals are even better! This is because there is a huge variation amongst animals. This game tests your skills on these three things:

Visual memory
Description and classifiers
Imagination and personification
Download and practice:


You will be given a picture of an unusual animal. Look at the picture, analyse and think about the way it might move! The aim is to give an accurate description that matches the picture on top of using your imagination to think about how it would move or its behaviour. A hint: Look for at least three interesting features to describe! If the animal is plain, the description part will be hard.


The NZSL Championship! allows only for 10 seconds per picture but you can practise using more time, and reduce this later on. Once the picture appears, you need to analyse the picture, and spot what is unusual about the animal. Shape? Texture? Colour? Think about how you can best describe the picture, focusing on the unusual features. 


You may have limited time but description is very important. Don’t rush. Take your time to describe the animal clearly. If you rush to describe, it will make the ‘movement’ part more difficult. Take your time to describe the animal first. If you have 30 seconds, use 20 seconds to describe the animal, then 10 seconds using movements.

Activity 2: Food critic

This game is a fun one; one where you will be given an unusual food which you will eat and describe what it is straightaway. This game tests your descriptive skills; specifically description of things you cannot see but can taste!

Download and practice:

Activity 3: Personification

NZSL is amazingly wonderful and clever. You can take on anything and become anything; turn that thing ‘alive’. NZSL sometimes uses this to change persepctive. For example, a flashy car could have its own personality.

This game tests your ability to be shown a thing – which could be anything – a vehicle, technology, etc, and show how it works on top of giving it a personality – you will need to take on its role and role-play!

In the NZSL Championships, we used kitchen equipment.

Download and practice:

Wrapping up