Weekly update: 1 December 2023

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

So, here we are sliding into the end of year break and still there are so many exciting things to do! Judy is busy organising a Deafblind Hamilton Network gathering before the close of play this year, Phil is coordinating for Lower Hutt/Wellington in January, and Andrea is poised for Christchurch in February. Nelson and New Plymouth continue to meet every month. As it seems to be the time of year for wishes, please keep yours coming in and I am sure we can do all we can to support you. Just email, phone, or text!

The exciting thing for me about going to conferences is always the conversations and sometimes they are surprising. I always learn something. At the Kāpō Māori Aotearoa Conference Lance and I had a good old natter and he has kindly shared the following. I hope some of you will connect with his experience. Afterall “Be Connected” is a big part of what we are about!


By Lance Girling-Butcher

One of the great benefits of attending conferences for the blind, deafblind, and low vision is the opportunity to swap ideas, discoveries, and technology advances that offer us ways to do it smarter, not harder.

Such was the case, when I discovered Amanda loitering in a corridor at our hotel in Queenstown where we were attending the Kāpō Māori 40th anniversary conference. She was waiting for a sighted guide, but we got together for a chat later in the day, and during that discussion, I mentioned the fact that I, and most of my family, are dyslexic and losing my sight had dramatically altered the way I read and write.

This was to be expected, but in my case it was more exaggerated than predicted. Unlike most people with dyslexia, I cannot remember having a problem reading, in fact I seem to be able to read much faster than most of my colleagues. I put this down to being able to just look at a page, and with good comprehension, understand exactly what was written there without needing to read word by word. The downside of this was, I never really learned how words were spelt, and was one of the worst spellers and editors of my own copy around. It was certainly not a good look for someone who ended his working life is editor of a provincial newspaper.

Now I have lost my sight, I’m limited to listening, rather than reading, which while it presents new problems in composition, does increase the accuracy of my editing but slows the whole process considerably. I have always looked on dyslexia as a gift rather than a handicap, but this does add another dimension to the mix, and I just wonder how many others have experienced the same problem.

Thanks Amanda, for your time and interest. It added another dimension to a totally worthwhile conference.

Well done Kāpō Māori Aotearoa!


Thank you Lance for mentioning my loitering; an art form I have developed to good effect. Leaving enough time for myself in pressured environments means I have time to stand, to be seen, to create new relationships with people who approach me to offer assistance, and to share how I had to learn to do this too – “Let me show you how it works for me”. That is how I connected with Lance and his delightful daughter/sighted guide. Congratulations to Chrissie Cowan, Chief Executive Kāpō Māori Aotearoa NZ, her team, and to say Vinaka Vaka Levu (thank you) to Nasim Ali, (Kaiwhakahaere Tuarua), Deputy Chief Executive Officer for our time together, and connect once more after our first conference together in Invercargill with Delayne Tūtemāhurangi, Tāngata Whaikaha Kaimahi (Hapori Māori) Māori Community Disabilities Field Worker. It takes a lot of putting together for a conference, as we know, and congratulations go to all!

Our office will be closing at midday on Thursday 21 December and reopening on Monday 8 January.



Introduction to Governance Online Seminar

From Pauline Melham, Senior Advisor Partnerships and Voice at Whaikaha: The Institute of Directors, in collaboration with the government’s five population agencies, is running an online course next week, entitled Introduction to Governance.

It’s on Wednesday 6 December from 1 to 2pm via Zoom, totally free and should be well worth attending.

If you wish to attend or just want to know more, then please go to the Ministry of Women Leadership Learning Hub pages and sign up for the event. This course is for everyone, not just for women. The link is below:

Institute of Directors – Introduction to Governance | Ministry for Women


Links to other newsletters

Disabled Person’s Assembly (DPA) Information Exchange: 24 November 2023

The D*List

This week’s issue acknowledges the new Minister for Disability Issues, National Party MP Penny Simmonds, includes a satirical take on the UK Government’s telling disabled people they must find a job and provides a guide to accessible protesting.

Following is a link to have a browse of The D*List website or sign up to receive their weekly newsletter.

The D*List

Be Seen be Heard be Connected Weekly Update

Please note, access to our weekly be Seen Be Heard Be Connected emails is also available on our website via our events page, at the following link.

News and events (Deafblind Association New Zealand)

As usual, event reminders and TellMe phone numbers follow.

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,


Event reminders

Auckland Sunday 3 December Disability community picnic + film screening

For International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Gathering at 12:30, Western Springs Lakeside Park, 859 Great North Road. For those who want to, we can then go see the film “Into the Spotlight” starting 2:30pm. Details were provided in 24 November update.

Auckland Tuesday 5 and Saturday 16 December, audio described performances of The Santa Claus Show ’23 by Tim Bray, with songs by Christine White – Book online or call The PumpHouse at 09 489 8360 or visit the theatre box office. Details were provided in 3 November update.

Online – Sight Tech Global Conference Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 December

Details were provided in 24 November update.

24 November update

Auckland – Carols for Rescare Tuesday 19 December

Invitation from Kathryn Stevenson to join her at Rescare (7 Rebecca rise Weymouth, Auckland) around 3pm to sing/play instruments carols at a residential facility for adults with intellectual disabilities. Details were provided in 24 November update.

24 November update

Wednesday 11 January at 5pm – Closing date for Oppenheim Tertiary Education Trust Fund

This financial fund is available to assist Blind Low Vision NZ clients who are enrolled in Tertiary education and in their second year or above. Students of any age and both full and partial clients can apply online via the Blind Low Vision NZ website at the following link.

Support grants (Blind Low Vision NZ)

Touch Compass presents AIGA at Auckland Arts Festival March 2024

AIGA (the Samoan word for family/whanau) is a World Premiere of a new ground-breaking Disability-led, Pasifika-led work of theatre exploring personal identity, life’s struggles and triumphs, family and desire. Details were provided in 24 November update.

25 to 31 May 2024, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland – International Council on English Braille 8th General Assembly

2024 Activity Deafblind International Youth Network (DbIYN)

Monday 30th September to Friday 4th October in Disneyland Paris

Expression of Interest: Please contact simon.allison@sense.org.uk.


Ongoing – Entertainment with Able

Able is a not-for-profit organisation working towards a more inclusive Aotearoa, believing everyone should be able to access news, entertainment and culture. Funded by NZ On Air, they’re Aotearoa’s leading provider of media access services, including captioning services, subtitling and audio description.

Listings are available at the following browser links.

A link to Able’s website to subscribe to the weekly newsletter with listings and picks of the week follows.



Deafblind Association New Zealand access to TellMe

See TellMe numbers for your area


End of report and this week’s update.

Amanda Stevens
Executive Officer
Taringa Turi Kāpō Rōpū
Deafblind Association New Zealand