SLIANZ Board

Jenn Gilbert – President

Term: 2/2

Based in: Wellington

Kia ora, I’m Jenn, I am originally from rural southland, and grew up on a farm near Gore, before moving to Nelson for my teen years. It was in Nelson that I started learning NZSL at the age of 17 at a night class. It wasn’t long before I moved to Auckland to study to become an interpreter, and I qualified in 2008. I started working in Auckland as a staff interpreter at KDEC, and at Unitec and AUT. I really enjoyed the structure and support in these early years. I needed another challenge at that time, and completed my BA in Linguistics through distance at Massey in 2012.
 
After meeting my husband in Auckland, we both decided to move and settle in Wellington, and we’ve been here for over a decade now. We have two primary aged children. I love being an interpreter because it gives me the flexibility as a mother to both work and to be there for them for important days or events.I enjoy freelance interpreting in Wellington because there is a huge variety of interesting and challenging settings, and the interpreting community is really close here.
 
This is my second year as president. The first was a steep learning curve, but I feel confident in the board and it’s direction, and am looking forward to another interesting year.
 

Reb Guy – Treasurer

Term: 2/ 2

Based in: Auckland

I was born in Wellington but moved to Auckland when I was 4, so Auckland is where my roots sunk deep.

I got my first BA from the University of Auckland, majoring in art history and linguistics, and got my first taste of NZSL as part of a sociolinguistics topic. From there I worked and travelled, sticking mostly with jobs where I could use my love of English (copy writing, editing, theatre). I graduated with a BA in Interpreting NZSL-English in 2015 and have been working as a community and compulsory education interpreter ever since. I love my job.

I also love karaoke, board games and animals of all kinds.


Melissa Simchowitz – Secretary

Term: 1/ 2

Based in: Te Awakairangi – Lower Hutt, Wellington

Kia ora koutou,

Ko Melissa (Millie) tōku ingoa. He uri ahau nō Ngāti Maniapoto, nō Te Nehenehenui. My sisters and I (triplets) were born in Hamilton and raised in Taranaki. Along with the three of us, we have four brothers and two more sisters, making us nine in total. 

The journey to interpreting started in seventh form (year 13). I signed up for a NZSL night class with Lisa Masters (née Shand) which later led onto NZSL studies at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington. Following the path of many Vic alumni before me, I made my way to AUT where I graduated from the NZSL-English interpreting degree in 2014. 

This will be my third stint as part of the SLIANZ committee/board and my first as secretary. I aim to deliver a high level of secretarial support, enabling the board to focus on our mission at hand, advancing and supporting the profession of quality NZSL interpreters.


Byron Gibbons – Board Member

Term: 1/2

Based in: Wellington

I grew up in Titirangi, a lovely western suburb of Tāmaki Makaurau, not far from Kelston. A CODA, I grew up learning English and NZSL and being a part of the Auckland’s Deaf community. After finishing high school I went to Unitec and completed a BA in Performing and Screen Arts. I’m a social person, who enjoys being with friends, music and movies, nerdy and creative pursuits, and finding peace in the outdoors.
 
In 2017 I moved to the capital where I have been living ever since and am now proud dual-citizen of Auckland and Wellington.
 
Life eventually lead me to start interpreter training at AUT in 2019 and I am so glad to’ve made that decision. Finishing the course in 2021, I have been working as an interpreter in Wellington since 2022 and loving it. Easy to say that the profession is one I’ve quickly come to care about and it means a lot to me to now be a SLIANZ board member.
 
I hope to learn in my role while at the same time offering honest perspectives, supporting SLIANZ and giving back to our interpreter community.
 

Tasha Henneker  – Board Member

Based in: Auckland

Nō Nuhaka ahau, ko Tasha tōku ingoa. 

I grew up in the village of Nuhaka on the East Coast, between Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. 

While I was studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development, I took my first NZSL paper and became interested in interpreting. After finishing my first Degree, I went straight into Bachelor of Arts NZSL-English Interpreting. I graduated in December 2023, and have been solely interpreting ever since. Working as an interpreter has been amazing, with my favourite parts being the support from the community and the variety of settings we get to experience. 

Outside of interpreting, my main hobbies are motorcycles and ancestry research.