Weekly update: 9 February 2024

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

Many of you may know now that I have a passion for deafblind access to Arts and Culture. I am delighted this week to bring you snippets from our community, some opportunities, and an invitation to offer of your experiences.

We have many artists from within our community. Are you one of them? The photo below shows a piece by Phil Thorn. I had the opportunity to touch this exquisite piece. My delight was in that I didn’t need any sense other than touch to fully appreciate it. Although Sarah has done her best to alt text the photo below with sensitivity, the piece, entitled “The Goodness of Life”, speaks directly to my sense of touch. Particularly for me it is that the outer curve ends a bare centimetre above the table. A hare’s breath and there would be the connect! I can’t imagine a better way to experience it!

Phil Thorn sculture "The Goodness of Life".

Milly from Arts For All (A4A) Forum has connected with a request for awareness around how deafblind interact with art. It would be terrific to get your input around this to give information prior to 26 February. Please let me know your experiences. I ran my hands all over a Waka at Te Papa and it was “awesome” however there was no one around to tell me if this was culturally appropriate. I ran my hands over the street art penguins in Christchurch and loved them! I love Touch Tours organised in conjunction with Audio Described Aotearoa, New Zealand Ballet, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. When there was an insect exhibition travelling the country I challenged the Education Advisor at the Nelson Provincial Museum to give me the full experience – sound, touch, smell, taste. I heard the cockroaches scuttling and smelt them (disgusting), Nicki put a tarantula on my hand and it traced its delicate walk up my bare arm to my shoulder (gross). The piece de resistance however was that, as a vegetarian, I ate a chocolate covered cricket (super gross!). I touched a python once and it was art in finely oiled, cool, coiled motion. I have also been to a “Touch Exhibition” which turned out to be photos behind Perspex panels. “but it looks tactile” said the curator! I got my hands on her eclectic clothes but not much else. At Seminar 2023 there was a model of the complex made for us by the architects Warren and Mahoney and then gifted to College House, University of Canterbury, that showed the buildings. It was informative and also art. Please let us know your best examples, times you felt left out, and mostly what you want more of. We have contacts to those designing new government buildings. I dream about tactile flags for all represented in Aotearoa NZ and have let them know. Would you like Morse Code on your phone as your description in tactile form? What is your best experience, what is your most disappointing, and what do you dream of?

And here’s what Clive Lansink has to say about Accessibility and Music on the BlindDiscuss List: “I absolutely agree music is way more accessible these days than it used to be. I am into high fidelity streaming, but the real benefit is being able to check out and browse through materials you would otherwise not know about. And while it is a bit hit and miss, I find increasingly that I can drill into the credits of something that’s playing to find out who are the performers. We use Tidal Hi-fi as our streaming service and I’ve also noticed that some tracks have a lyrics tab. In the past, I would often not know the name of a track other than its number 3 on side 2. So it’s really a different and much improved world now with respect to music.

I have to say though that I checked out several different services and all of them had issues with screen reader accessibility. But also interesting is that Tidal at least does seem to know about the need for accessibility for people using screen readers.”

Following is a link to the TIDAL website if you would like to know more.

TIDAL website


Natural therapy shows promise for dry-eye disease

8 February 2024, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Health and medicine.

University of Auckland researchers are testing application of castor oil to treat dry-eye disease with promising results so far.

Researchers at the University of Auckland are running a trial of castor oil as a potential safe and natural treatment for dry-eye disease following a successful pilot study.

While exact figures aren’t available for New Zealand, in Australia, it is estimated dry-eye disease affects around 58 percent of the population aged over 50.

Advancing age, menopause, increased screen time, contact lens wear are just some of the risk factors for developing dry eye disease.

Blepharitis is the most common cause of dry-eye disease, accounting for more than 80 percent of cases. It is a chronic condition with no known cure.

“Currently, patients are left grappling with symptoms of dryness, grittiness and, in some cases, watery eyes that feel uncomfortable impacting on their quality of life and work productivity,” says doctoral candidate and lead clinical investigator Catherine Jennings.

Current treatments, such as antibacterials and anti-inflammatories, are generally unsuitable for long-term use, due to significant side-effects and potential for antimicrobial resistance.

“Often patients are left feeling helpless when attempting to manage a chronic condition,” Jennings says.

The current trial is of a product containing cold-pressed castor oil enhanced with mānuka and kanuka oils applied using a rollerball attached to a small glass bottle.

“The previous pilot study, conducted by our research team, was unique in its use of castor oil in such an application on the eyelids, with the product not known to be used anywhere else in the world for treating blepharitis,” says Jennings.

Castor oil comes from a flowering tropical or subtropical shrub from the species Riccinus communis. It has been used therapeutically for millenia, including more recently in eye cosmetics and eye makeup removers.

In the pilot study, 26 patients with blepharitis were treated with cold-pressed castor oil over four weeks. They had measurable improvements in symptoms, such as reduced redness of the lid margin, decreased thickening of the eyelid, and a decline in bacterial profusion, as well as reduced eyelash crusting.

Building on the success of the pilot study, the research team is now engaged in the more extensive double-blinded, randomised and placebo-controlled study.

They are aiming to recruit 92 participants and generate robust scientific evidence for clinicians.

The ultimate goal is to sustainably improve quality of life for this large group of patients using a natural, safe and effective product, principal investigator Professor Jennifer Craig says.

“Castor oil has been proposed as a natural product that could offer a safe, effective and easy-to-use alternative to existing therapies,” Craig says.

“My hope is this study will produce evidence-based guidance for clinicians with regard to offering castor oil as a possible management option for patients suffering from blepharitis, so they continue to enjoy a great quality of life, read the books they love, be productive in their work environment and enjoy other visual hobbies.”

Find out more about the castor oil research (University of Auckland)


Auckland – All is for All paid interview opportunity

Dear All is for All community,

We are working with Journey, a digital and technology agency that is looking to do some interviews with disabled people to test the useability of airline self-check-in kiosks.

Journey’s client is committed to enhancing their airport kiosk check-in experience for all self-check-in customers, including disabled people. Journey has designed an on-screen experience that takes accessibility guidelines into account, and they would like to test this functionality with disabled people.

Interview details: The interview will involve a 45-60 minute in person session with Journey, where they will ask you questions about your situation, your access needs and requirements relating to your disability, what assistive technology you use, and your travel behaviour. Additionally, you will be asked to test a prototype (mock-up) of an online experience and provide feedback on its functionality. International travel experience is not essential, but you will ideally have experience with at least domestic airline travel.

Interview Dates: Interview slots are available from Monday, 19 February, to Friday, 23 February. Please specify your availability during this period if you want to participate.

Koha: For participating in an interview, you will receive Koha in the form of a $75 Prezzee card. Transport costs will be covered; please advise us of your travel needs in your reply and how we can support you to attend.

Location: There are two options for where you may choose to conduct the interview:

  • at Journey’s offices in Kingsland, central Auckland
  • at your home, if you live in Auckland.

Confidentiality: Through the interview process, you may learn who Journey’s client is. It is important that you do not share any information about the interview or who it is for. If you have any concerns about this, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss.

We’d greatly appreciate it if you could let us know of anyone in the blind / low-vision community who may be suitable for this opportunity and / or share this opportunity with your networks.

We hope to hear from you with your availability and are happy to answer any questions.

Ngā mihi,

Grace Cussell
+64 212515450

All is for All website


Other newsletters

Te Tari Kaumātua Office for Seniors Newsletter: February 2024

The D*List website is an online culture magazine that creates space for disabled people to tell their own stories through features, columns and news reporting.

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)



Auckland Arts Festival 2024

This section is at the end of our newsletter for this week as it is our only new event information and we have included information about the 15 events listed in the blind and low vision programme.

“We believe everyone should have access to extraordinary arts. Our award-winning Access & Inclusion initiative provides discounted tickets to members of our d/Deaf and disabled communities. Each year we work with organisations and consultants to identify the shows that will translate best into each community, and then customise select performances both on and off the stage. For the Auckland Arts Festival in March 2024, we have 15 events in our blind and low vision programme, offering audio description, touch tours, and a great music selection.

Booking Tickets: Access Tickets are discounted to $20, plus a companion seat is offered free of charge. Easy read booking forms are available on our website. If you would prefer to book over the phone, via text or email, please feel welcome to contact the Access and Inclusion coordinator, Eliza, by email or phone/text.

Email: access@aaf.co.nz.

Phone/text: 022 306 2206.

Access and Inclusion (Auckland Arts Festival)

We are promoting three shows that require you to book directly through their companies, they are: Te Tangi a te Tui, Aiga and O Le Pepelo – more information below under each event.

Some events have limited capacity. Book early to avoid disappointment!”

List of events in date order 7 to 24 March

Waiata Mai – Free Opening Night Event

Do you love to sing? Want to learn to sing in harmony? Come together with Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand in Aotea Square to share in the joy of collective singing and let your voice soar for the opening night of Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival 2024. Rehearsals across the city in a location close to you the week prior will ensure that your voice is primed, and you are ready to be part of the largest choir in Auckland, singing a selection of iconic waiata from Aotearoa.

When: Thursday, 7 March, 5:30pm.

Where: Aotea Square. Outdoors.

Run time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Tickets: free event.

Braille songsheets and Access seating are available.

Te Tangi A Te Tūī – Circus/Theatre

Te Tangi a te Tūī invites you to experience an enchanting and empowering Māori cirque theatre work about adaptation and authenticity. A remarkable circus spectacle for audiences of all ages.

The Tūī soaks up the world around it and responds in song. Though beautiful, its tune now is a faint echo from when Aotearoa was blanketed in the ngahere, where flutes of Patupaiarehe filled the trees, and Māori alone walked gently upon their mother. The loss of the original voice of the Tūī parallels the forces of loss and regeneration of te reo Māori.

This Aotearoa premiere is a collaboration between Te Rēhia Theatre Company, Te Pou Theatre and The Dust Palace.

When: Friday, 8 March, 5:30pm Touch Tour, and 7:00pm Audio Described Performance.

Where: Te Pou Theatre, Corban Estate Arts Centre, 2 Mount Lebanon Lane, Henderson.

Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including interval.

To book: email bookings@tepoutheatre.nz.

Online Te Pou Theatre website.

Angelique Kidjo with Angitu – Music

“Africa’s premier diva” (Time), five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in music today – and is back in Aotearoa for one night only.

Celebrating a 40-year music career with 16 albums to her name, Kidjo is a creative force. Her joyous body of work vibes between West African traditions, Afrobeat, dancehall, funk, jazz and American R&B – all of it performed with a voice and stage presence of striking power and clarity. Recipient of the prestigious Polar Music Prize in 2023 – the “Nobel Prize of Music” – Kidjo’s recent highlights include the powerhouse musical Yemandja, an Afrobeat reimagining of the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, and the critically acclaimed album Mother Nature, made in collaboration with the next generation of leading African musicians.

Joining Kidjo is Tāmaki Makaurau based kapa haka, Angitu. Energetic and full of vitality and excitement, this group will wow you with their spirited repertoire and exuberance.

When: Saturday, 9 March: 8:00pm.

Where: Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

Run time: 2 hours 20 minutes approx with interval.

Hearing loop available.

The Valentina – Theatre / Family

A gorgeous interstellar adventure for anyone who’s looked to the stars and imagined the cosmos. With the help of her awesome parents, 8-year-old Ellen, paints a spaceship she has drawn at school on her bedroom ceiling. As darkness falls and the moon rises, the ship comes to life. Joining Ellen on board are new friends and trusted crew members Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Laika the space dog, and the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. Ellen goes on an extraordinary adventure that takes her past the edge of the unknown and onto the surface of an alien planet, Vitanonan X.

Acclaimed theatremaker Anders Falstie-Jensen pays tribute to the extraordinary imagination of kids who manage to stretch mightily to keep their feet on the ground as they reach for the stars.

When: Sunday, 10 March: 12:30pm Touch Tour and 2:00pm Audio Described Performance.

Where: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre.

Run time: 50 minutes, no interval.

Hearing loop available.

This performance will also be a Sensory Relaxed show.

Beyond Words – Music

To mark the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque attacks, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra presents a unique collaboration promoting unity and peace through music.

Conducted by Fawzi Haimor, and featuring powerful Moroccan vocalist Oum and oud virtuoso Kyriakos Tapakis, the NZSO performs works from Valerie Coleman, Reza Vali, Arvo Pärt, and the world premiere of a new work from acclaimed Aotearoa composer John Psathas, ONZM. Psathas’ Ahlan wa Sahlan, composed in collaboration with Oum and Tapakis, uses the Arabic welcome greeting to let people know they are in a place where they belong.

When: Sunday, 10 March: 4:00pm.

Where: Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

Run time: 1 hour 30minutes including interval.

Hearing loop available.

The King’s Singers: Finding Harmony – Music

A stunning evening of a cappella and inspiration, with anthems of struggle and revolution sung by the superlative King’s Singers ensemble. With more than 50 years in the choral business, double Grammy Award winners The King’s Singers are masters of vocal harmony. Beloved in great venues the world over, from London’s Royal Albert Hall to New York’s Carnegie Hall, they return to the majestic Holy Trinity Cathedral for one night only.

There have been countless moments in history when songs have united nations, cultures and causes. Finding Harmony reflects on times of upheaval while celebrating gospel, African tribal songs and religious hymns about unity. Also featuring renditions of iconic U2 and Mahalia Jackson songs, this rousing repertoire is both a testament to how singing binds us together, and a reminder that music has always been our common language.

When: Thursday, 14 March: 7:30pm.

Where: Holy Trinity Cathedral, 446 Parnell Road, Parnell.

Run time: 1 hour 50 minutes, including interval.

In the Name of the Son – Theatre

What would you do if you received over 1 million pounds, became the subject of a hit movie, went to the Oscars and got to hang out with Daniel Day-Lewis?

This incredible true story chronicles the aftermath of Gerry Conlon’s release from prison, where he spent 14 years as one of the Guildford Four – a group wrongly convicted of a bombing by the IRA during one of the deadliest periods of the Irish Troubles. With his ordeal transformed into a celebrated film (In the Name of the Father), Conlon enjoyed instant fame and fortune, though his freedom was just as quickly stifled by addiction.

Shaun Blaney portrays Conlon’s life as it spirals out of control with gripping authenticity. Don’t miss this deeply affecting one-man play that’s drawn standing ovations all over the UK.

When: Friday, 15 March: 7:30pm; Saturday, 16 March, 2:00pm, and 7:30pm; Sunday, 17 March 4:00pm.

Where: Rangatira, Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street, Auckland.

Run time: 1 Hour 20minutes, no interval.

Introductory Notes delivered via email or in person, the performance is like a monologue so it is not audio described.

Hearing loop available.

Afrique En Cirque – Circus/Family

The definitive circus tribute to African culture is set to shake The Civic with the sounds of Afro-jazz and kora alongside feats of gravity-defying acrobatics. Inspired by daily life in Guinea, Afrique en Cirque transports the beauty, youth and artistry of Africa to the big stage.

It’s an irrepressible, heart-filled spectacle for all ages that’s spread like wildfire – and regularly sold-out – around the world.

When: Saturday, 16 March: 12:30pm Touch Tour, 1:30pm Audio Described performance.

Where: The Civic, corner Queen and Wellesley Streets, Auckland.

Run time: 75 minutes, no interval.

Hearing loop available.

Ju Percussion Group: Energy Infinite – Music

Promising a musical explosion fit for the biggest concert halls, renowned Taiwanese Ju Percussion Group (JPG) is finally coming to Aotearoa.

Founded by visionary percussionist Ju TzongChing in 1986, JPG is a 13-strong percussion supergroup, plus one composer in residence, who blend East with West through impressive technique. Huge in scale, JPG’s concerts place classical instruments within Asian theatrical elements to deliver a sound that is traditional yet modern, and playful yet virtuoso.

When: Saturday, 16 March: 5:00pm Touch Tour, 6:30pm performance.

Where: Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including interval.

Hearing loop available.

O Le Pepelo, Le Gaio, Ma Le Pala’ai – Theatre

This is a darkly comic exploration of the fa’a sāmoa, where family, leadership and legacy converge in spectacular chaos.

In Sāmoa’s not-so-distant past, Pili Sā Tauilevā is a proud Ali’i (chief) in the village of Moa. He has devoted his life to the sacred fa’a sāmoa tradition of service. When he suddenly falls gravely ill and refuses to name a successor, his daughter and son become rivals for the title. O le Pepelo, le Gaoi, ma le Pala’ai | The Liar, the Thief, and the Coward is a bilingual, modern tale of a man whose time is running out. Who then will survive?

Contains coarse language, smoke effects, loud music and violence. This play is a collaboration between Auckland Arts Festival, Auckland Theatre Company and I Ken So Productions.

When: Sunday, 17 March: 2:30pm Touch Tour, 4:00pm Audio Described performance.

Where: ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey Street, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland CBD.

Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including interval.

Hearing loop available.

Tickets: access tickets are $20, plus a companion seat also at $20.

To book tickets: email boxoffice@atc.co.nz or phone or use NZ Relay Services to call ATC Box Office 0800 282 849.

Aiga – Theatre/Dance

A journey of identity, desire, family, and what it means to be disabled and Pasifika.

Aiga (Sāmoan for family / whānau) is a groundbreaking and emotional Disability-led, Pasifika led work of theatre told through the lens of the real-life journey of Pacific Toa award-winning, founding member of Touch Compass Lusi Faiva. A collective creative ensemble of women, non-binary, disabled, non-disabled, Pasifika and Māori identities brings this quest for identity and belonging to life, artfully sharing their own experiences with and through Lusi’s.

An Aotearoa story with universal resonance. An honest and heartfelt work that moves you, expands your empathy and consciousness and invites you to explore new perspectives of being.

When: Wednesday, 20 March, 7:30pm; Friday 22 March, 7:30pm; Saturday, 23 March, 7:30pm; and Sunday, 24 March, 2:00pm.

Touch Tours to be confirmed. All performances have Audio Description.

Where: Te Pou Theatre, Corban Estate Arts Centre, 2 Mount Lebanon Lane, Henderson.

Run time: 75 minutes, no interval.

Tickets: access price is $20 per seat including free companion.

To book: Email Te Pou Theatre website.

The Sun and the Wind – Theatre

In this surreal, heartbreaking, impactful new play, experience a birthday unlike any other. Rangi and Hūkerikeri, in the midst of quiet celebrations, are caught off-guard when two uninvited guests crash through the door of their home. Hihi and Kate are there to rob the place, until they’re mistaken as the couple’s deceased son and his wife. An emotional rollercoaster of grief, hope, love and loss, The Sun and the Wind deftly explores the moral of “persuasion over force” within a gripping human drama where the threat of violence meets the power of tenderness. It’s also a beautiful, heartfelt ode to whānau and connection you won’t soon forget.

When: Friday 22 March, 8:00pm; Saturday 23 March, 2:00pm and 8:00pm; and Sunday, 24 March, 4:00pm.

Where: Loft, Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street, Auckland.

Run time: 75 minutes, no interval.

Introductory Notes are delivered via email or in person. The performance is not audio described.

Hearing loop available.

Kōtuitui – Music

A special performance to celebrate Indigenous musical artists. In recognition of the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages and in the spirit of Indigenous connection and creativity, Kōtuitui brings together performers from three world cultures to demonstrate the traditional instruments that are played in their respective homelands.

Featuring artists from Haumanu Collective (Aotearoa), Pamyua (Alaska) and William Barton (Australia), Indigenous creative ingenuity comes to the fore as these artists share their musical heritage and combine their multiple talents to compose a bespoke piece of music to be enjoyed by all.

When: Saturday, 23 March: 4:00pm Performance, 6:00pm post show Touch Tour.

Where: Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.

Run time: 1 hour 30minutes, no interval.

Hearing loop available.

Āhuareka – Kapa Haka

Revel in the uniquely Aotearoa art form that is kapa haka with a performance from some of our finest Māori cultural groups. Following on from a very successful Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata in Tāmaki Makaurau in February 2023, we are pleased to welcome kapa haka back to Auckland to delight audiences of all ages in song and haka.

Saturday, 23 March: 5:30pm Touch Tour, 7:00pm Audio Described Performance.

Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes, no interval.

Where: Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

Hearing loop available.

Pamyua – Music

Blending tribal funk with Inuit soul music, Pamyua hail from the northern reaches of Alaska, bringing their unique style and sound to Aotearoa for the first time.

Combining traditional Yup’ik Nation melodies with contemporary vocalisations, native masks and cultural dances, Pamyua (pronounced bumyo-ah) share Indigenous rituals and ceremonies, showcasing the pride and history of their Arctic Circle heritage for all to enjoy. Drums, vocals and storytelling come together in a foot tapping, rhythmic musical delight. With their name meaning “Encore”, or “Do It Again”, you will be calling out for more.

When: Sunday, 24 March: 8:00pm.

Where: Spiegeltent, Aotea Square.

Run time: 1 hour 30 minutes, no interval.

As usual, event reminders and TellMe phone numbers follow.

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,


Event reminders

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

ICEB 8th General Assembly (ICEB)

June 2024 Deafblind Awareness month – Yarn bombing

#DbIYarnBombing2024 – information was provided in 21 January update.

21 January update

2024 Activity Deafblind International Youth Network (DbIYN)

Monday 30 September to Friday 4 October in Disneyland Paris.

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



No Labels on Wellington Access Radio

You can listen to this edition of the show on Wellington Access Radio on Tuesday just after 1:00pm, or the following Tuesday at the same time.

“If you miss the scheduled show, you can check it out later online at the link below.

No Labels (Wellington Access Radio)

Or you can subscribe to the show via your preferred podcast player to check out this episode or previous episodes of the show.

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