Youth SEED participants taking out their raft

The Blind Foundation 2016 youth SEED leadership programme opens up a world of opportunity for aspiring leaders.

Success, empowerment, expertise and development (SEED) are at the very heart of this three-day youth leadership programme. 11 youth aged between 17 to 25, from across the country, came to Auckland to attend the programme from 3 to 5 October.

The programme involved a series of leadership workshops. Attendees explored   areas such as self-awareness, self-care, comfort zones, courageous conversations, leadership in Maori culture and team dynamics.

It wasn’t just theory though, participants put their learnings into practice out and about. They set personal challenges with team initiatives and took on a high ropes course.

There was even an opportunity to meet some key youth within the Blind Foundation. The group learnt about their journeys, as well as the Blind Foundation’s recently launched youth strategy.

On day three, there were no thoughts of heading home as there was a rafting challenge to complete. Again, an opportunity to put into practice and develop skills they had been learning.  The group got to use their skills in resilience, influencing change, solution focused problem-solving and team-work. Heading out to Okahu Bay, the group built a raft and put their handy work to the test on the ocean.

After getting back from the adventures on the water, they had one final task to tackle, planning for their futures, the group brainstormed ways to influence and lead in their communities. There were some robust conversations and they set real challenges for themselves, and the Blind Foundation, to further progress the youth strategy. The session was rounded off with time to reflect on the previous three days.

Heather McGill, Recreation and Community Practice Leader, helped facilitate the programme and says she is proud of everyone’s achievements.

“They did themselves and their peers proud by pushing personal limits and working together as a team.”

Now back from the programme, each participant will develop a community project to reach other youth in their local blind community. The participants will receive support from coaches on their projects.

Image of Attitude Trust logo

We are delighted to announce that five Blind Foundation clients are finalists in the People’s Choice Awards category of the Attitude Awards.

Clients up for the award are:

  • Ese Aumalesulu.
  • Steff Green.
  • Genevieve McLachlan.
  • Eilish Wilkes.

Watch their promo videos now and vote for your favourite finalist. The winner will be announced at the Attitude Awards gala dinner on Tuesday 29 November in Auckland.

South Otago walking group

The lower South Island has been buzzing with activity, following the rise of recreation initiatives this year.

Social coffee group

2016 has seen a social coffee group start up in Alexandra with clients attending, along with keen volunteers/drivers. The group meet on the last Tuesday of the month for coffee and a catch up. Each month they decide on the café for the next catch up.

Recreation Volunteer Coordinators, Anne Marie Hope-Cross and Chris Moffitt take turns to support the group. They often bring items of interest, information and equipment that promote robust discussion and talking points at the catch ups. Everyone loves getting together and look forward to each month.

Alexandra coffee group
Group photo above  of the social coffee group in Alexandra.

South Otago walking group

The first South Otago walking group has kicked off, thanks to the generous support from surrounding communities.

The idea has been developed over a few months, but there was a challenge with regular volunteers and crucial funding needed for safety gear.

A few months ago the South Otago Community Committee applied for funding to help with the purchase of walking poles, locator beacons, first aid kits and high visibility gear to ensure the safety of the group.

After part funding for the gear was approved, the group received a generous donation of proceeds from a local quiz night run by the South Otago Town and Country Club.

Support continued to roll in with several supporters from the Balclutha community volunteering to accompany the group on regular walks.

Currently, there are five regular walkers and five volunteers. We look to increase this number as community support continues and more people hear about the group.

South Otago walking group

Pictured above: The South Island walking group before they head off on a walk

Getting creative in Dunedin

The Dunedin craft group has really taken off this year, producing moccasins, cane baskets, scarves and wheat bags.

With a collection of weaving looms available at our Dunedin branch, we were approached by the local Tairei Spinners and Weavers group. They offered us a four-week tuition session on using our weaving looms. We accepted the generous offer with pleasure and now weaving has taken over, especially for the women in the group!

Now they know how to use the looms, they are producing scarves, towels, flannels and various other items for themselves. The Tairei Spinners and Weavers have been supporting the group all year. They drop in occasionally to check up on progress, thread the looms and offer advice. The plan going forward is to showcase these crafts at the local South Dunedin market in 2017. This market is also run by one of the craft group members.

Craft group member weaving a basket
Photo of a craft group member weaving a basket.

Along with the weaving, the men in the group have been busy working away making moccasins. These are made mainly from sheepskin, with a volunteer cutting the templates out for our members to lace together with ribbon. There are three totally blind clients stitching up the moccasins and one on a loom weaving up all sorts of creations. All are producing fantastically crafted and highly practical items.

If weaving and making moccasins weren’t enough you will also find the group sewing and filling wheat bags. Making most of a large donation of wheat, the group make the bags by cutting material and sewing it together. Along with the donation of natural cane, the group is very much looking forward to 2017. The craft group can’t wait get out to the South Dunedin market and showcase their products to the general public and raise people’s awareness of the Blind Foundation and the skills our client’s possess.

Creations from the Dunedin craft group
Photo above of craft group creations.

If you are interested in any of the recreation activities mentioned above or would like more information, please visit the events section of the Blind Foundation website. Alternatively, you can contact Anne Marie Hope-Cross or Chris Moffitt by phoning 0800 24 33 33.


1. Aftershokz SPORTS M3 Wired Bone Conduction Headphones

Stuck on gifts this Christmas? Never fear, our Equipment Solutions Team has got you covered. Check out their top gift suggestions for 2016.

 1. Aftershokz SPORTS M3 wired bone conduction headphones       

1. Aftershokz SPORTS M3 Wired Bone Conduction Headphones
Product code: TR0165

Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring your ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds. The headphones sit comfortably in front of the ear, keeping your ears open, while delivering stereophonic sound through the listener’s cheekbones to the inner ear. A multi-functional button also allows you to control your music as well.

These headphones come with a microphone which gives fantastic clear sounding quality and great communication even in crowded and noisy environments.

Client price: $64
Public price: $86

2. Talking calendar clock

Talking calendar clock
Product code: CT2040

This attractive and simple to use talking calendar clock not only talks the time but also the date with the press of a button.

Client price: $84
Public price: $112

3. Soccer ball with bells

Photo of soccer ball with bells
Product code: RC0010

Get out in the sun this summer and kick the ball around. This size 5 soccer ball comes with double bells inside.

Client price: $39
Public price: $57

4. Chess and checker set

Photo of chess and checker set
Product code: RC0132

Wooden chess pieces are distinguished from each other by touch. The white tiles are recessed and the black pieces have a small metal spike for easy identification. Also comes with tactile checker pieces.

Client price: $95
Public price: $126

5. Large print address book

Large print address book

Product code: DL6099

Sturdy and attractive, with large print alphabet tabs for ease in finding names. Each page is designed for three entries with ample space for writing in addresses and phone numbers in large, bold letters. The front and back covers have inside pockets to hold old envelopes, stamps, etc.

Client price: $36
Public price: $40

6. Spot n line pen (Option of orange, black and/or white)

spot-n-line-pen-orange, black and white

Product codes: DL0109 (Black) DL0110 (White) DL0111 (Orange)

With the ease of a pen create 3-dimensional tactile markings. This is useful for drawing raised lines, dots and shapes either for children’s arts and crafts or as a way of distinguishing buttons on remotes etc. This product is very tactile after it dries, looks like plastic and is non-toxic.

Client price: $8
Public price: $8

7. Unisex low vision watch, white face with 12 black numbers

7. Unisex low vision watch, white face with 12 black numbers
Product code: WL6001

This unisex low vision watch with a white face has easy to read large print black numbers. It is fitted with a chrome/gold expansion band.

Client price: $61
Public price: $81

8. Unisex low vision watch, black face, 12 white numbers
8. Unisex low vision watch, black face, 12 white numbers

Product code: WL6002

This unisex low vision watch has a black face with easy to read large print white numbers.

Client price: $61
Public price: $81

9. Large chrome tactile watch, black leather strap

Large chrome tactile watch, black leather strap
Product code: WB3030

This large chrome tactile watch is fitted with a leather strap. The lid comes open at the 6 o’clock position and a tactile mark indicates 12 o’clock, two dots indicate 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and one dot the hours in-between.

Client price: $55
Public price: $110

10. Braille and low vision scrabble

10. Braille and low vision scrabble
Product code: RC0137

Each of the letter tiles has braille, as well as clear print labelling. The playing board has tactile dots on the premium letter squares and tactile dashes on the premium word squares. The clever tile-lock design means that the letter tiles sit snugly on the board, even when rotating on to the next player using the built-in stand.

Client price: $98
Public price: $169


Photo of guide dog puppies playing with Christmas tinsel

All Blind Foundation offices will close for business at midday on Friday 23 December, 2016 and will reopen at 8.30am on Monday 16 January, 2017.

The last day of normal service for the library will be Thursday 22 December and service will begin again on Monday 9 January. BookLink will still be available throughout the shut-down period. The magazine studio will be closed during the Christmas break, with the last magazines being recorded on 20 December. A reduced service will start on 9 January, with full service resuming in February.

Image of the Blind Foundation logo

The Blind Foundation congratulates its new Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) Board Directors, after the election announcement at its Annual General Meeting on 12 November.

Candidates Judy Small and Clive Lansink were elected to the Board from the six people who sought election for the two General seats.

·                Judy Small was re-elected with 400 votes.

·                Clive Lansink was elected with 362 votes.

Candidate Paul Sullivan was re-elected with 75 votes from the four candidates who sought election for the Associates’ seat.


Judy Small

Judy has been a member of the RNZFB since she was four.  She attended the Foundation’s school for primary schooling and completed my education in the mainstream.  Judy’s Master’s degree Social Science thesis was a sociological study of blind people and how they identify themselves.  Four generations of her family have been involved in blindness advocacy.

Judy worked for 12 years as a Policy Analyst in the Office for Disability Issues and currently works for Hamilton City Council managing small projects with the local disability sector and is chair of the Access Advisory Committee.  Judy also served on the National Executive of NZ View and the Association of Blind Citizens.

In her personal time, Judy enjoys walking with her guide dog, reading books with Booklink and trying out new knitting patterns for her grandchildren.  Judy was first elected to the Board in 2013.

Clive Lansink

Clive has totally blind since birth. He has worked with and learned from many blind and low vision people of all ages for many years and has spent much of his personal life working on behalf of blind and low vision people. He has been President of Blind Citizens NZ for the last nine years. Clive has an engineering degree and more recently a law degree and much of his career has been in the computer industry. He is now semi-retired and runs his own business from home, doing consulting and projects in technology focusing on accessibility to blind people, and also human rights and disability law.

Paul Sullivan

Paul’s employment experience has been varied; in addition to strategy, business management and change, he has led initiatives in company and society mergers, shared service partnerships, policy development, financial management, development of information technology systems, the avoidance of unnecessary risk, and in recent times the establishment of health and safety systems that align with government requirements.

Paul was first elected as Associate Director in 2010 so is an experienced board director, not only with the RNZFB, but with Workbridge and AuSM at the Auckland University of Technology.  He is also a Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.  In over ten years of governance, he has chaired a number of Board Committees, advised organisations on their strategic direction, business planning processes, attraction of funding from government, and compliance with audit requirements.

As a result of the 2016 elections, the RNZFB Board of Directors are:

·                Rick Hoskin, Chair.

·                Keith Appleton.

·                Julie Bartlett.

·                Peter Hoskin.

·                Clive Lansink.

·                Nicola Owen.

·                Judith Small.

·                Paul Sullivan.

·                Carolyn Weston.

Auckland Transport (AT) logo

One of the biggest changes in Auckland’s bus and train operations swung into action in South Auckland on Sunday 30 October with the launch of the New Network.

The Southern New Network is a simpler, more integrated network that will completely change the way people travel.

There are 39 new bus routes across South Auckland, Pukekohe and Waiuku.

“A change of this scale has not been seen in Auckland before,” says Auckland Transport Group Manager AT Metro Operations, Brendon Main.

“It has been a massive effort. Along with new bus routes and bus timetables, there are two new bus companies operating in the south.”

“While we are anticipating that everything will run smoothly in the next few days, we do expect there will be some teething problems and customers will need extra care.

“It will take time for customers to familiarise themselves with their new journeys. We are asking for their patience, to plan ahead and give themselves enough time to make their journeys,” said Mr Main.

A key feature of the changes is the introduction of three frequent bus routes which also made their first journeys today. These buses will operate on key routes at least every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

“This is a first for South Auckland. It has never had this level of service on these routes, especially on the weekends. Across the region there will be a more consistent pattern of frequency through the day and in the weekends, benefits that will please our customers” says Mr Main.

“We have been working towards this for some time now. Informing customers, working with the bus companies, having our staff on the street and our call centre ready to answer queries.

AT ambassadors and staff are at key bus stops and interchanges helping people with their new journeys.

Informing customers of the changes and getting them ready for day one, has meant a busy few months for Auckland Transport. The public campaign included delivering the information pack and bus timetables to 119,000 letterboxes, 20 information events helping customers plan their journeys and posters at about 500 bus stops reaching 93 per cent of passenger boardings.

Implementation of the New Network for other areas of Auckland will follow in phases.

Image of the Blind Foundation logo

Voting for this year’s Board Elections is now open.

Voting packs were sent out to all voting members of the Blind Foundation, in their preferred formats, on 6 October 2016.  If you have not received your voting pack information, please contact the Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33 to request a copy.

Voting in the Blind Foundation elections closes on 4 November 2016 at 4pm.  All votes need to be at the Blind Foundation office, 4 Maunsell Road, Parnell, Auckland.  We encourage all voting members to please take up the opportunity to have a say in who leads the organisation forward for the next three years.

This year’s election has two General seats and one Associates’ seat up for election.  The three incumbent directors, Judy Small and Pamela MacNeill and Associate Director, Paul Sullivan, are all standing again.  Only governing members are eligible to vote for the general seats and only associate members are eligible to vote for the associates’ seat.  There are a total of six candidates standing in the election for the two General seats and four candidates for the Associates’ seat.

The candidates in the 2016 Board Elections, listed in alphabetical order, are:

General Seat:

  • Garth Clarricoats
  • Clive Lansink
  • Pam MacNeill
  • Peter Ruddenklau
  • Judy Small
  • Allan Webster

Associates’ Seat:

  • Francis Charleton
  • Hannah Coleman
  • Angela Drake
  • Paul Sullivan

• Never let fireworks off close to animals.

• If you are a pet owner and don’t need to go to a Guy Fawkes party, think about staying home to reassure and comfort your pets.

• Alternatively, find a reliable person who will stay with your pets and look after them in their familiar surroundings, or take them to the home of someone you know who will look after them and be there to reassure them when the fireworks start.

• Make sure your pets are indoors throughout the evening and that they can’t see or hear the fireworks.

• Exterior doors and windows should be secured to prevent your pets escaping and running away in terror.

• Interior doors and curtains/blinds should be closed as this will help muffle the sound of fireworks and prevent your pets being startled by the lights.

• It is a good idea to switch on the radio, television or stereo to distract your pets from the sound of fireworks. If there is no human present to look after the animals, it is even more important to leave the radio or television on for them.

• If a frightened animal hides under furniture or in a cupboard, don’t try to coax it out, you will only be adding to its distress. Allow the animal to hide and speak reassuringly, allowing it to come out in its own time.

• Make sure your dog or cat has a collar on with up to date contact details (or better yet, get your pet microchipped) just in case they get out and are panicked by the fireworks.

• If you have small pets that live outdoors, don’t forget to partly cover cages/pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is well sound proofed. Also provide lots of extra bedding so your pet has something to burrow in.

• If you have a particularly nervous animal with a known heart condition, speak to your veterinarian before Guy Fawkes night over whether calming medication would be suitable.

• You may also wish to put your animal in a reputable boarding complex over the Guy Fawkes weekend. Some facilities have regular bookings each year for animals who hate fireworks.

• People organising fireworks displays should let their neighbours know in advance. Put flyers in neighbour’s letter boxes. This will alert them to the need to make arrangements for their pets.

• Organisers of large fireworks displays should also place notices in local shop windows and inform local media.

• Firework party organisers should concentrate on fireworks which explode close to the ground and don’t make particularly loud bangs or screeches. These are likely to cause less distress to animals.

Image of the Blind Foundation logo

On 25 August 2016, the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Repeal Bill was passed in the House of Representatives. The Bill received royal assent on 29 August 2016 and has become the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Act Repeal Act 2016.

This is an important milestone in our history.  When the RNZFB became an Incorporated Society in 2012 fulfilling the requirements of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Act 2002, that Act became redundant.  The Honourable Nicky Wagner supported a Private Members’ Bill to take the repeal through the parliamentary process.

The Sovereign (The Queen, represented in New Zealand by the Governor-General) forms part of Parliament but is separate from the House.  It is the Sovereign’s role to sign a bill into law by giving it the Royal Assent. Assent is given on the advice of the Prime Minister (or the most senior Minister available) and the Attorney-General.  Thus, the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Act Repeal Act 2016 came into being on 29 August 2016.