Sign of the times

The Warehouse’s Nightfill Team Leader in Hawera, Russell Hockley, is, linguistically, the complete New Zealander.

Hockley, already fluent in Te Reo and English, began learning Sign language last year when he was appointed to the role of Nightfill Team Leader at the Hawera store and he learned that one of his team members was hearing impaired.

“I took over from his dad, who was the previous Nightfill Team Leader, so when his dad left there was no way to communicate with my colleague,” says Hockley. “It was a no brainer for me to learn Sign once I was in charge in order for me to communicate with him.”

Hockley says he feels empowered being able to speak all three of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s official languages.

He says his colleague has been his inspiration to learn Sign, and he has learned by tutoring himself and with his colleague, using You Tube and other online resources.

“We have a Nightfill page and he would post videos up for our team to learn and challenge each other.”

Hockley says he is now at a level where he can communicate in Sign in a work place environment, although he still has a lot to learn.

Before taking on the leadership of the Nightfill Team, Hockley spent more than 13 years work in retail for The Warehouse, nine years as a Sales Team Leader. The Nightfill Team at each The Warehouse store take over from the daytime retail sales team before the store closes and then work through the night to restock the store for the next day’s trading.

“I would encourage anyone to learn some Sign and Te Reo, and to broaden their knowledge of all of New Zealand’s languages,” says Hockley.

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