About the Trust

The purpose of The Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust (BANZAT) is to:

  • set standards and make rulings on braille code usage within New Zealand;
  • maintain awareness and consistency with current international developments in all braille codes;
  • accredit practitioners involved in braille production;
  • promote braille as the prime literacy medium for blind people; and
  • promote best practice in teaching, acquisition and distribution of braille.

History

Braille was first taught in New Zealand when the Jubilee Institute for the Blind was founded in 1890. Today the Jubilee Institute for the Blind is known as the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (Blind Low Vision NZ) which is the major provider of blindness services in New Zealand.

Wellington Braille Club, a group of volunteer transcribers, was incorporated in 1930 and became the first source of braille in New Zealand independent of Blind Low Vision NZ. Blind Low Vision NZ established its own Transcription Department during the Second World War. Under the leadership of Mr Bruce Kibblewhite, the Auckland Braille Club was founded in the 1950s. The New Zealand Braille Association was established in the 1970s to link volunteer transcribers around the country. Today most braille produced in New Zealand comes from Accessible Formats Service of Blind Low Vision NZ.

The marketing of braille to blind people and the teaching of braille was initially the responsibility of Blind & Low Vision NZ. Children were taught at the school in Parnell which opened in 1890 and later at Homai College which opened in 1965. Braille was taught to adults in Parnell. The first adult braille instructor to work away from Parnell was Mr Terry Small who began teaching in Wellington in 1948.

Visual resource centres and the Auckland College of Education (then responsible for the course in the Education of Students with Visual Impairment) became stakeholders in braille in the 1980s. Teachers on the ESVI course were expected to pass the Braille Proficiency Certificate which has been offered to teachers, transcribers and others since the mid 1980s. In 2000 Homai College became a school in its own right under the Ministry of Education, independent of Blind Low Vision NZ. Since its founding in 2005, the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ), with its headquarters on the Homai campus, has substantially increased its involvement and influence. In 2011 Massey University became responsible for teacher training of resource teachers vision. The requirement remains for the teachers to sit the Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille.

Blind Low Vision NZ’s Board of Trustees had a Braille Committee for several years. This became the Braille Management Panel in 1987 and a trustee continued on the Panel until 2002. The Braille Management Panel was renamed the Braille Literacy Panel in March 2005.

The Braille Authority of New Zealand (BANZ) was established in 1989. Terry Small, its first chairman, wrote at the time “Its concern is solely with braille codes and overall maintenance of quality control in all braille production for general consumption. Administrative and other procedural matters remain as before with the Braille Management Panel, Manager Braille Services, the New Zealand Braille Association or individual transcribing groups.”

In the 1990s the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) initiated the development of Unified English Braille (UEB). BANZ led the research and consultation on UEB in New Zealand providing input into UEB development. When ICEB gave approval to UEB in 2004, BANZ renewed its consultation with users and teachers of braille. In November 2005 BANZ adopted UEB for use in New Zealand.

BANZ assumed responsibility for setting and marking the Braille Proficiency Certificate. In 2008 BANZ joined with the Australian Braille Authority to establish the Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille.

Establishing BANZAT

In July 2008 work began to merge the Braille Authority of New Zealand and the Braille Literacy Panel into a new single organisation. The Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust (BANZAT) was set up under a trust deed in August 2010. BANZAT includes a similar representation to that of the two former groups but because of its legal status as a charitable trust it is independent of the main braille production and teaching agencies in New Zealand.

Trust Deed and Charitable Status

Banzat is governed by a trust deed available for download as a Word file.

BANZAT is a charitable entity registered with the Charities Services at the Department of Internal Affairs, number CC45306.

Trustees

The trust deed provides for five founding organisations to appoint seven trustees. The five founding organisations are:

  • Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc. (Blind Citizens NZ);
  • Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ);
  • Kāpō Māori Aotearoa/New Zealand Incorporated (Kāpō Māori);
  • Parents of Vision Impaired NZ Inc. (PVINZ); and
  • Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (Blind Low Vision NZ).

Each of the five founding organisations has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BANZAT.

The seven trustees then appoint between two and four additional trustees.

The term of office for each trustee is three years expiring at the close of the Annual General Meeting in the relevant year. Retiring trustees are eligible for reappointment.

The current trustees are:

  • Paul Brown: appointed by the trustees of the founding organisations; term expires 2021.
  • Leyna Coleman: appointed by Blind Citizens NZ; term expires 2021.
  • Justine Edwards: appointed by PVINZ; term expires 2021.
  • Amanda Gough: appointed by BLENNZ; term expires 2022.
  • Chantelle Griffiths: appointed by Blind Low Vision NZ; term expires 2021.
  • Dr Nicola McDowell: appointed by the trustees of the founding organisations; term expires 2023.
  • Dr Wendy Richards: appointed by the seven trustees; term expires 2023.
  • Mary Schnackenberg, Secretary/Treasurer: appointed by the seven trustees; term expires 2023.
  • David Smith: appointed by Blind Low Vision NZ; term expires 2022.
  • Maria Stevens, Chairperson: appointed by Kāpō Māori; term expires 2022.
  • Karen Stobbs: appointed by BLENNZ; term expires 2023.

Discussion Email List

To subscribe to BANZAT’s email braille discussion list, send a blank message to mailto:nzbrl+subscribe@googlegroups.com.

Last updated 28 September 2020