Weekly update: 12 May 2023

Kia ora tatou,

Hello to all of us,

It’s New Zealand Sign Language week! It’s a great opportunity to express thanks and I can’t even begin to number the people who support us, are interested in deafblind needs, and who value our input. When I am in a meeting, or at a café, or just anywhere really, when I say thank you verbally I also use the NZSL sign.

Here’s how it looks.

Keeping your palm flat with fingers and thumb pointing straight up, touch the front of your chin;

Simply move your hand so it is now pointing at the person you want to say thank you to. You end up with your palm upwards as though you have a gift on your hand – as indeed you do.

It’s a bit like blowing a kiss but just don’t pucker up!

Whaikaha last evening showed the movie CODA and encouraged all their staff to go. CODA is the acronym for Child of Deaf Adults and is NZSL interpreted.

The NZSL Dictionary includes some facts on the origins of NZSL. You can find these at the following link.

NZSL facts: origins of NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language dictionary)

Back in January at our seminar we gave cardboard shoes in our logo colours of yellow and black with a little shoe label of our name and logo as a gift to presenters. Paula Tesoriero, Chief Executive Whaikaha, presented by Zoom so didn’t get her gift. I dropped one in for her and received a lovely email response before I had even left the building – thanks goes both ways Paula!

Photo showing a yellow women's high heeled shoe with an open toe and an ankle strap. The shoe is made of cardboard and has a yellow and black flower on the toe strap and a logo inside the back heel. There is a line of three wrapped chocolates along the sole of the shoe.

Yesterday I met with Pauline Melham from the Office for Disability Issues (ODI). (ODI now sits within Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People.) We often put in this email information she sends through to us about positions on Boards you may be interested in. There is another one below. She encouraged me to encourage you to register on the nominations database if this is an area you feel able to give to and reminded me that there is a focus on upskilling disabled people for Board skills. Pauline is happy to work with you by phone or text, or any format, braille etc, if email is not your current preferred format.

Here are her contact details.

Pauline Melham (pronouns: she/her)
Senior Advisor, Policy, Strategy and Partnership.
Whaikaha I Ministry of Disabled People I Aurora Centre, 56 The Terrace I PO Box 1556, Wellington 6140
Tel: 0299512206
Email: pauline.melham001@whaikaha.govt.nz
ODI website | New Zealand Office for Disability Issues (Facebook) | @NZ_ODI (Twitter)
Whaikaha: Waikaha – Ministry of Diabled People website

I also met with Stew Sexton, accessibility advisor Parliamentary Services. He is looking for ideas that are inclusive for us for the new parliament building which is well under way.

Did you know that the lifts in the current building announce the floors in Te Reo? I talked about the need for great sound quality so those announcements are clear and not in the too high or too low pitch. I thought it would be nice to have a different native bird call on each level. More importantly though when I get out of a lift and I haven’t been able to hear those announcements I want tactile confirmation of the floor I have stepped out on. In my utopia this would mean a different piece of tactile art just near the lift door with braille. You would still get the confirmation by the shape of the art even if you are not a braille user yet.

(We talked about the easy proximity of hand sanitiser too. I suggested sanitiser coming from the beak of a kiwi but I don’t think that idea is going to fly!).

I also talked about how Aotearoa New Zealanders identify. The world over people can usually identify their country flag. I would love to be able to touch the New Zealand and Māori flags, and in fact any nation represented in Aotearoa, so I can feel tactile changes. Stew was talking about the great potential for tactile art too. We talked about scented native plants on the approach to the building and the use of water to touch in a feature.

One of the things I miss now is moving with fluidity and ease. I talked about being able to navigate with absolute certainty in an environment and how that brings me into a meeting in a mental state where constant vigilance is lessened and I am able to focus on the work in hand. Isn’t that what we really want with removing barriers to the built environment?

What works for you? I am really happy to pass on your ideas so let’s have them! It’s your parliament after all.


Email from Pauline – Financial Advice Code Committee Member nominations

Morena everyone,

I hope this email finds you all well. The following committee position has become available on the Financial Aid Code Committee. Whilst, they are looking for people who have experience of providing financial advice, the other criteria they are asking for is very wide. As a result, I’ve decided to send this to all of you. Details are below.

As per usual, if you are interested, please apply directly. However, please do indicate to me if you are applying. It is useful for me to gather data on the number of opportunities we send out and the number of people who apply/are appointed.

Your deadline is Monday 19th June.

Kind regards

On behalf of the Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is seeking candidates for the role of Member of the Financial Advice Code Committee.

Information and applications may made directly through the following link.

Financial Advice Code Committee – Member | Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

Additional information is also available at the following link.

Financial Advice Code Committee – Member (MBIE)

The Ministry is looking for candidates who bring one or more of the following:

  • Experience in financial advice, financial services, financial education, economics, law, financial capability, or another relevant field.
  • Experience engaging with Pasifika communities and an understanding of their interests and cultural needs in relation to finance and financial products.
  • Experience advocating for people, organisations or kaupapa in your community on financial matters, for example with banks, financial advisers, or retirement schemes.
  • Experience supporting people dealing with disputes over financial products or helping with financial education.
  • Experience engaging with stakeholders and ensuring multiple views are well represented and understood.
  • Experience in leadership, compliance, organisational change, consultation, implementation of frameworks and practices, regulatory systems, ethics, education, digital systems or in another relevant area.
  • Experience engaging with hapū/iwi or Māori and an understanding of their interests and cultural needs in relation to finance and financial products. For example:
  • Experience in post settlement entities and/or commercial asset management.
  • Working with or for particular iwi groups.
  • Working with or for Māori community groups or initiatives.
  • Involvement in community or business groups for example, business or school boards, not-for-profit community/marae groups, environmental, social or cultural kaupapa.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Ngā mihi nui
Andrew Flanagan
Senior Advisor, Board appointments and Governance


Blind Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ) curriculum review day

Deafblind Association NZ Board Member Don McKenzie attended the session and is happy to share his report. Don’s comment to the Board was “Below is my report on a blind sector day spent at BLENNZ Homai School on implications for proposed curriculum changes for State schools.

From a deafblind perspective it is worth keeping a watch on developments in this area to ensure deafblind students are kept under active consideration to ensure their potential is fully realised.”

Link to word document follows.

BLENNZ curriculum review day 2023 [.DOCX 30 KB]


RNZ interview about the importance of art for mental health

This 22 minute interview with co-author Professor Susan Magsamen about the book ‘ Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us’ took place on the afternoon of Monday 10 May. The following link was shared by Mark Blair.

The Science of Neuroaesthetics (RNZ)


World Blind Union (WBU) presents: Global Trends on Accessibility and Urban Development

Dear colleague,

Are you interested in learning more about how we can create more accessible and inclusive urban environments? Then we have an exciting opportunity for you!

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the World Blind Union is thrilled to bring together experts from Europe, Africa, and Asia to discuss key issues in the field of accessibility and urban development. Join us on May 18 from 8:00 am to 9:00 am eastern / 14:00 to 15:00 Central European / 12:00 to 01:00 (midnight to 1am) New Zealand time for an engaging webinar that will explore the state of accessible urban development in different parts of the world and the challenges and opportunities related to mobility in urban spaces.

As more and more people are living in cities, it’s crucial that we design urban spaces in ways that make it easy for everyone, including people who are blind or partially sighted, to move around their communities confidently and safely. This year’s GAAD is the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of accessibility and the benefits of universal design, and to highlight the connections between accessibility and urban development.

Our guest speakers include:

  • Dr. Nantanoot (Apple) Suwannawut, researcher at the Bureau of Special Education Administration, Thailand Ministry of Education.
  • Chantelle Smith, National Access and Mobility Manager with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, and
  • Abraham Mateta, Human Rights officer, African Union of the Blind (AFUB)

While the webinar will be conducted in English, interpretation into French and Spanish will be provided.

Don’t miss this opportunity to join the conversation and learn from experts in the field. Register using the following link to secure your spot today.

Global trends in accessibility and urban development (Zoom)

You can send your questions to our guests using the following address:


We look forward to seeing you on May 18th for this important conversation.

WBU Secretariat


Disability Connect upcoming webinars

Planning for adulthood

Preparing your child for adulthood?

Want more information on the legal side of things – welfare decision making, property management, power of attorneyor family trusts?

Wednesday 17 May, 11am – 2pm, or Thursday 15 June 6:30 – 9:30pm.

Further details are available at the following website link:

Adulthood webinar (Disability Connect)

Education legal issues

Thursday 22 June 11:30 – 2pm.

This seminar will be of interest to all families raising a child with a disability, whether in mainstreamor special school environments. Come along and learn about enrolment rights, decision processes around special education, processes around an ORS funding decline, requests to parents for teacher aide funding contributions, requests to parents for funding for student support at extra-curricular camps and activities, stand-downs, use of restraint, and much more.

Further details are available at the following website link.

Education webinar (Disability Connect)

The cost for either of these webinars is $20 per family or $50 for professionals working in the disability sector.

RSVP is essential: phone 09 636 0351 or email admin@disabilityconnect.org.nz.

Disability Connect also provides support groups in the Tāmaki Makaurau, greater Auckland area. More information is available at the following website link:

Disability Connect website

As usual, event reminders and TellMe phone numbers follow.

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,


Event reminders

Sunday 14 May, Auckland – Audio described performance and touch tour of Witi’s Wāhine by Nancy Brunning. Details were provided in 5 May update.

Sunday 4 June, New Plymouth – Operatic Society Backstage Touch Tour and Audio Described performance of the G.J. Gardner Homes season of We Will Rock You. Details were provided in 5 May update.

26 June to 1 July Deafblind Awareness Week – anywhere or anything you want it to be. Details were provided in 5 May update.

Wednesday 28 June, New Plymouth – Backstage Touch Tour and Audio Described Performance of The Haka Party Incident by Katie Wolfe. Part of Taranaki Arts Festival. Details were provided in 5 May update.

Sunday 27 August, Braille House, Wellington – Deafblind Association NZ Annual General Meeting and gathering. Please email Sarah boardsecretary@deafblindassociation.nz if you are interested in attending.

Friday 30 June – closing date for BANZAT call for expressions of interest in becoming a Trustee. Details were provided in 5 May update.

September/October Training Programme for Public Sector Directors offered by Victoria University applications are open. Details were provided in 28 April update. Contact Girol and Tania at the following emails.


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 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