About the trust


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



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 (the Blind Foundation) 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 the Blind Foundation. The Blind Foundation 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 the Accessible Format Production service of the Blind Foundation.


The marketing of braille to blind people and the teaching of braille was initially the responsibility of the Blind Foundation. 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 at the Foundation headquarters 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 the Foundation. 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 and the requirement remains for the teachers to sit the Trans-Tasman Unified English Braille Proficiency Certificate.


The Foundation'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. BANZ provided 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 Unified English Braille Proficiency Certificate.


Establishing BANZAT


In July 2008 work began to join together 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.




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

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


The seven trustees then appoint between two and four additional trustees. The term of office is three years and retiring trustees are eligible for reappointment.


The current trustees are:

Discussion list


BANZAT maintains an email discussion list about braille matters. To subscribe to the list, send a blank message to nzbrl-subscribe@googlegroups.com.