Puppy with his head stuck in a rubbish bin lid

Harris is such a lovely guide dog puppy. He seems to be doing all the right things, as well as some very funny things too – like checking out the rubbish bin at his puppy walker’s home and getting his head stuck!

He doesn’t mind his red jacket these days – it keeps him warm – and he can proudly show everyone he’s a guide dog puppy in training. He’s growing so fast he’s now up to his second red coat size!


Harris walking in the mall


Harris has had all his vaccinations now, so he’s able to go everywhere his puppy walker wants to take him.

That’s good because his puppy walker takes every opportunity to let Harris experience as much as he can.

A big achievement was walking down steps in their local cinema to show his progress.

Well done Harris!


Pupstar Harris in a winter photo frame

There have also been practice walks in the local mall, complete with lots of sounds, smells and different floor textures to help Harris learn and feel at ease in new environments.

He is settling easily in cafes and outdoor spaces and is progressing really well in his development. In fact, he has his first assessment walk soon – we’ll keep you posted on his progress.

In the meantime, find more of Harris’ adventures over on Facebook.



Image shows Joe Fallen and his tether runner Paul.

Client Joe Fallen is a fan of sport, adventure, and the great outdoors.  He’s also someone who doesn’t shy away from a challenge or a dare.

Whilst completing an 8-day Outward Bound challenge in Anikawa in the Marlborough Sounds earlier this year, Joe was dared to run a marathon.

“There were around 10 visually impaired people on my course; it was about challenging ourselves.  At the end of the course, one of my classmates dared me to do the half-marathon in Taupo.”

Joe’s training began in March; he ran 10kms every second day on the athletics track at Cooks Garden in Wanganui.

Joe completed the Taupo half-marathon on Saturday 5 August, with a finishing time of two hours and 40 minutes.  For a first timer that’s a great time, but Joe thinks he can do better.

“You’ve got to train hard.  I need more training; I died in the last 3kms.”

Joe is planning on completing another half-marathon in November; from Ashhurst to Palmerston North but is skeptical about completing a full-marathon.

“Not at this stage… unless somebody dares me!”

Aside for accepting dares, Joe is a keen tramper who would love to set up a walking group in Wanganui for other visually impaired people.  He also been accepted in the Blind Foundation’s SEED programme taking place later this month.

Local Recreation and Volunteer coordinator, Richard West, who nominated Joe for the programme, can’t help but sing his praises.

“Joe is highly motivated and is a delight to work with.”

Image shows the group of Japanese students in the cafeteria at Awhina House.

A group of Japanese youth, who are blind or have low vision have been experiencing the Kiwi way of life this past week.

The youth, aged between 15-24 years are in New Zealand as part of their life enrichment programme.

Their week-long itinerary, managed by the Blind Foundation’s Community and Life Enrichment team, included:

  • A visit to Awhina House in Auckland where they toured the facility, recorded a song and met with Blind Foundation staff and members of the Epic Youth Group.
  • A tour of the Guide Dog facility where they met the puppies in training and took them for a walk.
  • A weekend homestay where they experienced the Kiwi way of life.
  • A trip to Rotorua where they took part in a Maori cultural experience, including a Marae stay.

They were blown away by the reception they received and have absolutely loved their time in New Zealand.

During their visit to Awhina House, they took a stroll to the sensory garden nearby.  The goal of the garden is to provide visitors with an experience that appeals to as many of the senses as possible, not just visual.  They couldn’t help but sing its praises.

“We loved the sensory garden; we have never experienced something like this before.  We have been around fragrant flowers but it was great to smell some herbs.  The plants were the right height so we didn’t have to bend very low.”

Blair Gilbert, National Manager Community and Life Enrichment said this is an exciting opportunity to open the door for cultural exchanges.

“I would like to think that this is the first of many youth exchange opportunities.  We have really enjoyed welcoming this delegation to New Zealand and look forward to welcoming many more in years to come.”

The group recorded a few songs in Japanese as a gift to our members, you can listen to them below.

You can also check out the photographs from their visit to our Guide Dog facility on our Facebook page.

Blind Foundation logo

The 2017 New Zealand General Election will take place on Saturday 23 September.

If you are blind, have low vision, or have a physical disability that means you are unable to mark your voting paper without assistance, you can choose to use the telephone dictation voting service to cast a secret vote.

If you want to vote using this service you will have to register, even if you have used the service at previous elections.

Eligible voters can register to vote by telephone dictation from Wednesday 23 August by calling 0800 028 028.  The deadline for registering to vote by telephone dictation is 7pm, Thursday 21 September – two days before the close of voting.

Voting by telephone dictation starts on Wednesday 6 September.  To vote, call 0800 028 028 weekdays from 9am to 5pm until Friday 15 September.  From Monday 18 September you can call from 9am to 7pm.  Your last chance to vote is on Election Day, Saturday 23 September from 9am to 7pm.

For more information, visit elections.org.nz or call the Blind Foundation’s Telephone Information Service. Election Information is on TIS Menu 73.

Free calling areas:

  • Whangarei: 09-929-9099.
  • Nelson: 03-929-5033.
  • Auckland: 09-302-3344.
  • Christchurch: 03-355-8381.
  • Hamilton: 07-834-2288.
  • Timaru: 03-688-6921.
  • Tauranga: 07-929-6199.
  • Oamaru: 03-433-1026.
  • Napier-Hastings: 06-835-9136.
  • Dunedin: 03-455-8833.
  • Gisborne: 06-929-1033.
  • Balclutha: 03-418-3332.
  • Palmerston North: 06-354-8316.
  • Gore: 03-203-3001.
  • Wanganui: 06-348-4403.
  • Invercargill: 03-218-6470.
  • New Plymouth: 06-929-3088.
  • Wellington: 04-389-3858.
  • All other areas: 0800 36 33 44 (Toll free).
Image of the Blind Foundation logo

The Blind Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors whose responsibility it is to lead the Foundation forward in fulfilling its objectives under the strategic plan.

We hold annual elections for these Directors who each serve a three-year term.  Retiring Directors may be nominated and stand again.

The Constitution lays out how elections are held and how the Board operates.  All candidates are nominated and elected by Governing Members.  As the election nears, we’ll share more information about the candidates and election process.

Everything you need to know about voting

Voting information:

Voting information is available in a range of formats including braille, audio CD, email and large print.

This year, we are also introducing online voting and have created a website with the following information:

  • The candidates’ 300-word profile.
  • A 60-word snapshot of capabilities.
  • An mp3 file recording of the candidates’ interviews.

Casting your vote:

Members are able to cast their vote in the election in a number of ways, including:

  • A print form.
  • Braille card.
  • Telephone Dictation Voting.
  • Telephone Information Service (TIS).
  • Online voting (new for 2017).

Voting eligibility:

Only governing members are eligible to vote in the Board elections.  If you are uncertain whether you are a governing member and would like to become one, please contact the National Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33 and they will be happy to arrange this.

Online voting trial:

If you would like to trial online voting ahead of this year’s Board elections, please visit the test site at www.rnzfbelections.org.nz.  You will need a valid email address that is registered with the Blind Foundation along with a connection to the internet.  Please note, the trial will end on Friday 15 September.

Change your preference:

The Blind Foundation holds information about members’ preferred formats for information and voting.  If you would like to change your preferred formats, please speak to our National Contact Centre who will be happy to help.  Alternatively, you can complete the ‘update preferred format details’ page on the test site.  Please note, the deadline for advising any preferred format changes is Friday 15 September.

Image shows Brianna Houston listening to something on her tablet using headphones

Thirteen-year-old Brianna Houston is like any other high school student; she loves hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing instruments, singing, YouTube-ing, writing, and going to the beach.  The one thing that sets her apart is that she’s blind.

Being blind doesn’t stop her from doing the things she loves, things you would expect anyone else her age to do.  Brianna recently put pen to paper to articulate her feelings in a poem; Don’t judge what you see.

Don’t judge what you see

By Brianna Houston

Don’t judge what you see

because there’s so much more to me.

You see me walking with my cane,

it doesn’t mean I’m not the same.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have a personality

that I have no fun, no originality.

Some people don’t understand the meaning of blind

and that it’s my eyes that don’t work, not my mind.

Some people don’t know I have feelings too

that I laugh, I cry, that I’m no different from you.

I’ve never let my absence of sight get in the way

Just because of things you think and say

You would think differently once I show

that I am capable of more than you know

So before you start with you exclusion

get to know me then come to a conclusion

Because everyone deserves to be treated right

whether they have none or all of their sight.

This is the thing some people don’t see

and if you can’t accept that, you’ll never know me.

Chantelle sitting on the steps with guide dog Darbi

Chantelle was born with under-developed optic nerves in both eyes. Although she can see some things when objects are very close, detail is very limited when they are further away.

As you’d imagine, this made life a constant challenge. But everything took a turn for the better when she was paired with her first guide dog. “My first guide dog gave me the confidence to try things I never thought possible,” Chantelle explains. “Together we explored the city and different modes of transport, and I gained a whole new level of independence as my social circle increased.”

More recently, Chantelle was matched with her third guide dog, Darbi. “Without her I wouldn’t have the varied lifestyle I have now, working full-time and living an independent life.”

“Being able to go anywhere I like, no matter how new or challenging, with the knowledge that Darbi will help me get there confidently and safely is reassuring.”

Labrador guide dog Darbi looking proud
Chantelle’s guide dog Darbi helps her lead an independent life


As valuable as guide dogs are for people who are blind or have low vision, they’re not a solution for everything. Over time, the Blind Foundation has assisted Chantelle in many areas of her life. Our specialist Adaptive Daily Living instructors have provided her with life skills that most of us take for granted. Things like washing clothes, cleaning around the home, or cooking – one of Chantelle’s favourite pastimes.

“I have a real passion for cooking,” says Chantelle. “I love to entertain friends and family, and serve them delicious, wholesome food. I use talking scales, talking timers, and measuring cups that are easy to tell apart by touch, and I have braille labels on my herbs and spices.”

The Foundation’s Orientation & Mobility services have given Chantelle the ability to safely travel about her community.

“Earlier on, the Blind Foundation taught me white cane skills which helped me navigate my school and neighbourhood.”

This later extended to public transport, which paved the way for Chantelle’s next big step in life when she decided she was ready to join the workforce. The Blind Foundation played an important role here too.

“It was through the Foundation’s employment service that I was made aware of their Adaptive Technology course,” says Chantelle. “This opened up a new world of opportunities as I learned valuable computer and technology skills, which gave me a recognised qualification and quickly led to an employment opportunity.”

As Chantelle will tell you, the Blind Foundation’s extensive support has enabled her to lead a confident and independent life. Of course, Chantelle is just one of many hundreds of blind and low vision people that we help every day. With your kind support, we can do so much more. Will you help us?

Blind Foundation logo

The 2017 Engagement Roadshow is coming to a town near you in September and October! You are invited to be part of this annual event and have your say.

It’s an opportunity to talk to Board Chair Rick Hoskin, Board Directors, Chief Executive Sandra Budd and members of the Leadership team about how things are going for you. It’s also a chance for them to discuss what’s working well and what we can improve.

Please note the Engagement Roadshows will start at the times as listed. We welcome people to join us for a hot drink and a bite to eat either before or after the meeting. For details please check the timetable below.

We look forward to meeting you again soon.

Please RSVP at least five working days before the roadshow date by filling out the form below or emailing nparker@blindfoundation.org.nz or phoning Noreen Parker on 09 355 6920.


Roadshow timetable




Tues, 12 Sep


West Auckland

New Lynn Library Meeting Room
3 Memorial Drive, New Lynn

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Wed, 13 Sept



Greenmeadows Hall
83 Tait Drive Taradale

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Thur, 14 Sep



St Pauls Union Church
Corner of Tamamutu Street and Rifle Range Road

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Fri, 15 Sep


Mount Maunganui

Club Mount Maunganui
45 Kawaka Street

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Sat, 16 Sep


Wellington – open meeting

Blind Foundation office
121 Adelaide Road, Newtown

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Sat, 16 Sep


Wellington – youth meeting

Blind Foundation office
121 Adelaide Road, Newtown

1.30 pm – 3.30 pm

light lunch from 12.30pm,
tea and coffee to follow

Wed, 20 Sep



Blenheim Bowling Club
65 E Weld Street

1.30 pm – 3.30 pm

light lunch from 12.30pm,
tea and coffee to follow

Thur, 21 Sep



Kapiti Community Centre
15 Ngahina Street

1.30 pm – 3.30 pm

light lunch from 12.30pm,
tea and coffee to follow

Fri, 22 Sep


New Plymouth Central

Blind Foundation office
131 Vivian Street

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Tues, 10 Oct



Blind Foundation Hall
96 Bristol Street, St Albans

1.30 pm – 3.30 pm

light lunch from 12.30pm,
tea and coffee to follow

Wed, 11 Oct



Blind Foundation office
Corner of Law Street and Hillside Road

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow

Thur, 12 Oct


Alexandra- CANCELLED.


Thur, 12 Oct



Ascot Park Hotel
Corner of Tay Street and Racecourse Road

4.30 pm – 6.30 pm

tea and coffee from 4:00pm,
light meal to follow

Sat, 28 Oct


Central Auckland

Rec Centre, Awhina House
4 Maunsell Road, Parnell

10.00 am – 12.00 midday

tea and coffee from 9.30am,
light lunch to follow


Golden retriever dog sitting on the grass

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a conversation with our dogs? It would be so much easier to figure out what they want, and no doubt they would have a very unique perspective on the world.

Unfortunately dogs haven’t developed the ability to speak, but they can communicate through body language and facial expressions. With a bit of know-how, it is possible to figure out what they are thinking – or at least get a rough idea.

Some dogs are easier to read then others, but if you can learn to identify when a dog is uncomfortable you catch potential problems and help your dog work through them.

Below is a set of common behaviours and what they might mean. We have this poster by Dr. Sophia Yin hung up at the breeding and training centre for easy reference. Download a copy from her website.

Body Language of Fear in Dogs

Cartoon dog slightly cowering before someones feet

Slight Cowering

Cartoon dog cowering in front of someones feet

Major Cowering

More Subtle Signs of Fear & Anxiety

Cartoon dog licking lips

Licking Lips
when no food nearby

Cartoon dog panting

when not hot or thirsty

Cartoon dog with a furrowed brow

Brow Furrowed, Ears to side

Cartoon dog walking slowly

Moving in Slow Motion
walking slow on floor

Cartoon dog yawning

Acting Sleepy or Yawning
when they shouldn’t be tired

Cartoon dog looking hypervigilant

looking in mnay directions

Cartoon dog refusing a bone

Suddenly Won’t Eat
but was hungry earlier

Cartoon dog walking away from food

Moving Away

Cartoon dog pacing