Sign language interpreter Alan Wendt (Samoan) shares what it's like interpreting for New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern and how he's able to give access to politics for the deaf community through his translations.
Wendt, 40, has himself become a staple on New Zealand television screens as prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s sign language interpreter – the first ever employed by a New Zealand prime minister on a regular basis.
Interpreters were occasionally deployed during natural disasters by previous governments, but Wendt has become a permanent fixture on the television when Ardern requested last year that a sign language interpreter be by her side at her weekly post-cabinet press conferences. He was also called on during other major press conferences, including after the Christchurch massacre.
Wendt, a senior interpreter for Deaf Aoteroa, says his first post-cabinet press conference is etched into his memory. A stuffy and overheated room in parliament house. A pack of vociferous journalists. And the tense, tit-for-tat, rapid-fire dialogue that defines the prime minister’s public tussle with the media every week, which is livestreamed on Facebook and other platforms.
“What I remember most is being nervous ... I did feel the pressure,” says Wendt, who also speaks Samoan and German.
Read more about him in this article in the Guardian here