The first Guide Dog Centre in New Zealand was opened in a small premise in South Auckland in 1973. Prior to that guide dogs were brought in from abroad to help those who required their services.
From its initiation in 1973 to 1997 over 148 blind or low vison New Zealanders were provided with guide dogs.
In 1990 the current Guide Dog Centre was opened by Te Paea Paro Muru (Sophie Muru), the Maori Princess. At the time the centre was considered to be state of the art as far as kennels worldwide were concerned.
In the early 1990s Blind Foundation Guide Dogs became International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) accredited, with the latest accreditation being secured in 2016.
The first annual Guide Dog Appeal, which grew out of International Guide Dog Day, was held in April 1996. In 2007 the Guide Dog Appeal had a name change and became the Red Puppy Appeal.
In 2008 a new purpose-built breeding centre was completed in 2008. The breeding centre includes CCTV-monitored whelping rooms, under-floor heating, vet room, tour room and accessible doggie-bathroom for our expectant and new mums. The facility means the staff at Guide Dogs can better focus on breeding dogs of high quality with the potential of becoming a working guide dog.
Blind Foundation Guide Dogs National Manager Paul Metcalf, who was first elected to the board of the IGDF in 2012 (taking up the position of Vice Chair in 2014), was re-elected in 2016 and became Chair. This is the first time New Zealand has had a representative on the board, and this has helped cement Blind Foundation Guide Dogs’ place in the international arena.
Today we currently have 57 full and part-time staff and over 200 working guide dog teams. We have approximately 350 volunteers, which include our puppy walkers, boarders and breeding stock guardians, and on-site volunteers.
Catch the summer edition of Outlook magazine on 27 March for a more detailed history of Guide Dogs accompanied with some great photos thanks to Blind Foundation Archives.