Kōrero – 30 May 2024

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari kē he toa takitini.

My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, it was not individual success but the success of a collective.

This whakataukī acknowledges team effort, that one’s success is due to the support and contribution of many. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes community/a team to enable an individual’s success.


Kōrero is available in the following formats:

  • This HTML webpage, available at blindlowvision.org.nz/korero
  • Word document.
  • TIS (Telephone Information Service): Call TIS m341. Find your local TIS number on our Library Services webpage.
  • Braille: Call our Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33 if you would like to receive Kōrero in braille.

Message from Andrea

As per April’s newsletter update, here’s a new item in our monthly newsletters, a message from me, Andrea Midgen, the Chief Executive of Blind Low Vision NZ.

It has been another busy and positive month in the world of Blind Low Vision. I have some wonderful updates to share with you about my experience with clients and community engagement, my first Alexa, and an international event I had the pleasure of attending in Auckland last week.

Client and Community Engagement

In the month of May, there has been lots of engagement with Consumer Organisations: Blind Citizens NZ, Blind Sport New Zealand, Deafblind Association NZ, Able (making media accessible), NZ VIEW (Vision Impaired Empowering Women), and NFDHH (National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing).

The Board meeting on the 4th of May in Palmerston North was another wonderful opportunity to connect with the communities there. It was also great to meet the Palmerston North and Whanganui Blind Low Vision teams in person and to see the recently remodelled Palmerston North office – thank you team for your hospitality and fabulous support over the three days.

Clients, Volunteers, Community Support Committees and other organisations from Palmerston North, Whanganui and Kāpiti came to the Board/CE Meet and Greet afternoon. Lots of great questions were asked and responded to, and it provided me with a greater understanding of concerns and queries that our communities have. We covered topics such as the Library service, transport (a challenge for some and not others), equipment and accessibility of buildings.

I also had the privilege of attending some client visits in Whanganui. These are an absolute highlight for me and whilst I haven’t ‘walked in those shoes,’ spending time with our clients helps me to learn and appreciate the hurdles/challenges faced, giving me an appreciation of the work our staff does. This helps me make better decisions to ensure that staff keep supporting you, our clients and members, to achieve great outcomes.

International Council on English Braille (ICEB) Assembly

On 25th of May, the Eighth General Assembly of ICEB (International Council on English Braille) was held in Auckland, and proudly hosted by BANZAT (Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust). BANZAT invited me to open this Assembly, which was a great honour.

It was fantastic to meet with some very passionate braille advocates and encouraging to see the passion supporting the ongoing use of braille as such an effective system. Afterall, even with all the amazing technological advances, nothing replaces braille for learning spelling and punctuation. Founded in 1991, ICEB has seven Full Members from braille authorities in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Observers from Sāmoa and Vietnam will also be attending. ICEB mainly focuses on English braille. However, it also addresses issues between English Braille and languages like Te Reo Māori and Polynesian languages.

Library and technology

A visit to the Library team in Henderson, Auckland, was really interesting – thanks to Amy Luxton-Esler and Diana Morse for taking the time to share your world with me.

I collected an Alexa, although confess haven’t had time to fully set it up as yet. Apart from being keen to understand the client experience of our Talking Books service, I am really looking forward to setting alarms for my very forgetful husband 😊

Strategic Plan 2024-2028

The Board approved the Strategic Plan 2024-2028 and thanks to so many in our communities that provided input, I believe we have a robust and achievable plan to action over the next four years. I’m looking forward to sharing the Strategic Plan with you all in the coming weeks.

Kia kaha

Andrea Midgen
Chief Executive, Blind Low Vision NZ


New Address for our Palmerston North Office

On 6 May 2024, Blind Low Vision NZ staff moved to a new office space, just a minute’s walk around the corner from the old one, on 64 Taonui Street.

This move marks a significant milestone for us as we strive to enhance our services for you, our valued clients. With upgraded facilities and improved accessibility, our new location is designed to better accommodate your needs and ensure that we maintain the high standard of service you’ve come to rely on.

Our team is fully settled in our new surroundings and prepared to address any inquiries or requests you may have. You can trust that our commitment to your satisfaction remains our top priority. So, if you’re in the area, come say hello!

The new address for our Palmerston North office is 64 Taonui Street (formerly 49 Walding Street), Palmerston North.

Telefriend: Here to Support You

Telefriend offers empathetic, non-judgmental, and confidential peer support for people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision, as well as their caregivers, family, and friends. Whether you need guidance or just want a friendly chat, we’re here to help.

Call us at 0800 100 051, from 1 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. If you call outside these hours, leave a message—we will return your call. Connect with a Telefriend today by dialling 0800 100 051.

Upcoming events

Auckland: Audio described NZ Opera – Le comte Ory

NZ Opera have organised a performance of Rossini’s comedy, Le comte Ory. It’s a mix of funny and serious, filled with Rossini’s unique style. The show is updated, with a Kiwi twist, by Simon Phillips and Tracy Grant Lord.

Also, Audio Described Aotearoa will describe the show in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Before each described show, there will be a free touch tour of the set, costumes, and props. It’s a chance to see the behind-the-scenes of the production.

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland:

When: Saturday, 1 June: 5:30pm Touch Tour, 7:30pm Audio-described performance

Where: Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland Central

For details about the shows in Te Whanga-Nui-A-Tara Wellington on 15 June and Ōtautahi Christchurch on 29 June, look out for the upcoming Sport and Leisure newsletter.

Adult Tickets start from $79 and a free companion ticket is available if required. Guide dogs are very welcome.

To book: Call our wonderful Ticketing Manager Julie Bird on 0800 696 737 or +64 9 379 4068 or email boxoffice@nzopera.co.nz

Box office hours are Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm.

Wellington: Accessible Live Performances at BATS Theatre!

Thanks to the generosity of the ANZ Staff Foundation, BATS Theatre in Wellington is thrilled to partner with artists to produce a series of Audio Described and Captioned Live Streamed shows this year. We invite you to join us in experiencing more live art, whether you are d/Deaf, blind, have low vision, or can’t physically make it to the theatre.

For those who are d/Deaf or are unable to physically make it to the theatre – Live Streamed and Live Captioned:

Femme Natale – The Queen Years – Thursday 30th May, 8pm.

Confessions of a Sleepwalking Insomniac – Thursday 6th June, 6.30pm.

Heartbreak Hotel – Tuesday 18th June, 7.30pm.

Information on the BATS website about live streamed captioned performances.

Please note: The Live Streaming/ Captioned shows are “pay what you can” and the tickets start from $5. Those who book tickets for Live Streamed/Captioned performances will receive a link and instructions via email a few days before the show.

For those who are blind or have low vision – Audio Description and Touch Tour:

Confessions of a Sleepwalking Insomniac – Friday 7th June, 6.30pm – Touch Tour starting 5.45pm.

Heartbreak Hotel – Saturday 22nd June, 2pm – Touch Tour starting at 1.15pm.

Information on the BATS website about audio described and touch tour performances.

Other Accessible Performances – NZSL and Relaxed (low sensory)

Confessions of a Sleepwalking Insomniac – Saturday 8th June, 6:30pm – Tickets for the NZSL Interpreted Performance (NZSL Briefing 6pm).
Confessions of a Sleepwalking Insomniac  Sunday 9th June, 4 pm – Tickets for the Relaxed Matinee Performance. 

Companion tickets are available free of charge for in-person performances. Please contact book@bats.co.nz if you require a companion ticket.

Tickets can also be booked via book@bats.co.nz or call 04 802 4176 Monday – Friday after 4pm.

Webinar: Advocating for children’s rights in education – 6 June

PVI (Parents of Vision Impaired NZ) are organising a webinar in June about children’s rights in education.

Education can be a key issue for parents to grapple with, especially if your child needs additional support in school. Knowing what you can (and can’t!) advocate for, who to talk to about which issue, and how to write an email that gets action are all useful tools for parents.

Rachael Wiltshire, from Auckland Disability Law, will be presenting this webinar on Advocating for your child’s rights in education.

Date: Thursday 6 June

Time: 7pm to 8:30pm

Location: via Zoom

This seminar will cover:

  • Education rights under the law
  • Advocacy strategies
  • Who to talk to about what
  • Asking for a meeting
  • Looking after yourself

Register for the PVI Education Rights webinar.

Webinar: MSD Support Funds – 11 June 2024

On Tuesday 11 June 2024 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. the Employment and Youth Transition Team welcomes Genevieve McLachlan MNZM, Support Funds Administrator Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to its monthly webinar.

Support Funds provides funding for disability related costs for employment or post-secondary study or training.

Examples include transport cost where public transport isn’t a viable option, support assistants for job related or study tasks, or special software to access computers.

Genevieve, who is visually impaired, will share her employment journey and explain Support Funds, including its purpose, eligibility criteria, and application process.

There will be plenty of time for general questions related to the Support Funds programme. We will not be able to address specific questions related to individual applications. These will need to be addressed offline.

This professional development offering is part of Blind Low Vision NZ’s Work Ready webinar serries and will be available live via Zoom and the recording will also be uploaded onto the Work Ready Webinar Recordings & Resources page of our website.

Zoom Meeting link for the MSD Support Funds webinar.

Meeting ID: 881 8982 7344

Webinar: Kōrero for Change – 19 June

Kōrero for Change is a webinar series dedicated to having courageous conversations with industry and thought leaders around ableism, accessibility, and inclusion. Each discussion is themed around a key area of life where individuals in Aotearoa New Zealand encounter disabling experiences.

The next Kōrero for Change is on Housing and the Built Environment. The building and construction industry have a pivotal role in the inclusion of those with access needs. We will be calling on a disability expert to explain what ableism looks like in our urban landscape, and asking guest speakers, “What is the role of housing and the built environment in the process of inclusion and belonging of people with disabilities?” We will also be taking a closer look at robust accessibility legislation used in countries overseas.

Join us for this very important conversation around the future of inclusion in Housing and the Built Environment in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Date: Wednesday 19 June 2024

Time: 9am to 12pm

Register for the Korero for Change webinar via Zoom.

NZSL interpreters will be available.

Webinar: Know Your Rights – 20 June

Join us on Thursday 20 June for the fourth instalment of the Know Your Rights series, a series of webinars where you can learn about the different services available to you to help you stand up for your rights.

This time we are joined by Charmaine Pene, Director of Advocacy at the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC), and Randal Southee, Interim Chief Executive of the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service (aka the National Advocacy Service).

During this webinar you will get an overview of the HDC and the services they provide, learn about the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code of Rights), and learn about the role of the National Advocacy Service in upholding the Code of Rights.

Date: Thursday 20 June 2024

Time: 1pm – 1.40pm

Register for Know Your Rights webinar via zoom.

NZSL interpreters will be available.

Accessible broadcasts

Paddy Gower has Vision issues

In the latest episode of Sam Smith’s ReVision Podcast, TV3 broadcaster, Paddy Gower discusses his eyesight journey, and takes listeners through his emotional experience.

Don’t miss Paddy as you’ve never heard him before. Sam Smith’s ReVision Podcast is available on Spotify. Listen to the latest episode of the ReVision podcast on the Buzzsprout website.

Able Earcatch Update

Able, the not-for-profit organization that provides captions and audio descriptions (AD) for broadcast television, has announced the conclusion of their one-year pilot of Earcatch in June 2024. Earcatch, an app launched last year in partnership with TVNZ and funded by Manatū Taonga, allows AD users to watch content on demand. Although no new shows will be uploaded, Earcatch has agreed to keep the app open and maintain access to the already uploaded shows indefinitely, ensuring that AD users can continue to enjoy these programs.

Able remains dedicated to collaborating with broadcasters to integrate AD into their on-demand streaming platforms, enhancing accessibility for all viewers.

Download Earcatch for Android.

Download Earcatch for Apple.

Able also offer a weekly newsletter highlighting audio described shows across broadcast and streaming. Sign up for Able’s weekly newsletter called WatchAble.

Able Offering Accessible Programmes

Did you know that Able offers audio described and captioned TV content?

Discover the audio described programmes for this week on the Able website.

News from the Royal New Zealand Foundation of The Blind (RNZFB) Board

Thank you note to Palmerston North staff

On Friday 3 May, the Board visited the Blind Low Vision NZ Palmerston North office for a tour and to meet with staff, and really enjoyed talking to everyone and having lunch together. The Board thanks everyone for the warm welcome and opportunity to explore the office space together.

Update on the Strategic Plan

The Board formally adopted the new Strategic Plan that will set the direction and priorities of Blind Low Vision NZ for the next four years. Look out for it soon as it will be widely circulated in June.

RNZFB Board Elections 2024

Key dates to pencil in your diaries:

  • 23 August – Call for nominations to stand as a Director.
  • 20 September – Last day for nominations.
  • 11 October – Voting packs circulated.
  • 8 November – Last day to vote.

Call for Nominations for Directors. Information about the call for nominations to stand as a Director is being sent out to all voting members in their preferred format on Friday 23 August 2024. Only nominations on the prescribed form are valid. To receive a nomination form, please phone the Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33. All completed nominations must be received at Blind Low Vision NZ by 4:00 pm on Friday 20 September 2024.

Information Day for Candidates. The Board will run an information day in July for those interested in standing in this year’s Board Elections. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP via email to boardsecretary@blindlowvision.org.nz or contact the Blind Low Vision NZ Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33.

If you would like more information about Board elections, becoming a director, the Constitution or the voting process or timeline, please contact the Returning Officer boardsecretary@blindlowvision.org.nz or phone the Blind Low Vision NZ Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33.

Updating RNZFB Board Election Voting Information

A reminder that Blind Low Vision NZ will be contacting all its registered voting members between May and August to check in and see if they want to continue to be a voting member.

Incorporated Societies Act

As part of the changes to the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 (the new Act), new Members will need to give consent to become a member of the society under the new Act. Members will now have an obligation to notify the society if they change their name and their contact details so the society can update its register of members.

RNZFB Board of Directors Meeting

At the last Board meeting, and following on from a governance session, the Board discussed the frequency of meetings. It was agreed the Board will now go back to meeting bi-monthly, and the Zoom meetings scheduled for 2024 will be cancelled.

The confirmed updated schedule for the remaining 2024 Board meetings is as follows:

  • Saturday 6 July: Full Board meeting, Hamilton.
  • Saturday 14 September: Full Board meeting, Wellington.
  • Friday 15 November: Full Board meeting, South Auckland.
  • Saturday 16 November: RNZFB Annual General Meeting, South Auckland.
  • Wednesday 4 December: Board only meeting in committee via Zoom (6pm-9pm)

The next RNZFB Board of Directors Meeting is scheduled for Saturday 6 July 2024. This meeting will be held at Blind Low Vision NZ Hamilton. If you would like to attend this meeting as an observer, please contact the Board Secretary boardsecretary@blindlowvision.org.nz or phone the Blind Low Vision NZ Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33.

  • In accordance with the RNZFB Constitution, members and members of the public are welcome to observe at RNZFB Board Meetings in person, via teleconference or online, with the permission of the Chair.

The confirmed meeting minutes of the 3 April full Board Meeting and the draft meeting minutes of the 4 May full Board meeting are now available. If you require a copy of any of these minutes, please email the Board Secretary boardsecretary@blindlowvision.org.nz or phone the Blind Low Vision NZ Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33. The Board meeting minutes are also available on the telephone information service menu 313.

Meet and Greet Event in Hamilton

The next RNZFB Board Meet and Greet event is set to take place on Friday 5 July, at Blind Low Vision NZ Hamilton. The session will run from 1:00pm – 3:00pm and will be followed by tea, coffee and biscuits. At the session you will be introduced to the Board Members of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and find out more about the Board’s key priorities. You will also have an opportunity to raise any concerns or ask any questions you may have. And you will get to meet Blind Low Vision NZ’s Chief Executive Andrea Midgen.

Chair’s Award

The Chair’s Award is presented each year at the AGM. The award is for a blind, deafblind or low vision client who has demonstrated an outstanding level of achievement in any field of endeavours. The award comprises a trophy to be held for one year, a cheque for the sum of $500 and a framed certificate.

Now is the time to start thinking if you have someone in mind who would be a worthy recipient, please provide your nomination with supporting information to the Board Secretary at boardsecretary@blindlowvision.org.nz or by phoning 0800 24 33 33.

Chair’s Newsletter

For more detail on Board activities and decisions from recent meetings, check out the Chair’s newsletter at Blind Low Vision NZ Governance webpage, and on the Telephone Information Service on option 311.

Clive Lansink

RNZFB Board Chair

In the News

New Zealand

Rebuke issued in stoush over volume of on-bus announcements for blind passengers.

Read the RNZ article about the use of bus announcements.

All happening for Southland bowlers.

Discover the Otago Daily Times article about the talented Southland Blind and Low Vision Bowls team.


“I have low vision, so I built an app to help others.”

Listen to the BBC interview with the app developer, Rebecca Rosenberg.

Colorado House Passes legislation for Accessible Prescription Labels.

Read the Colorado House Democrats article about the accessibility legislation.

Canon brings accessibility to photography with World Unseen.    

Peruse the Creative Brief article about the exhibition and film series.

Blind Girls Aloud fan slams inaccessible ticket site.

Pore over the BBC news article about the lacklustre ticketing experience.  

Blind big-game fisher urges people with disabilities to ‘chase your goals’ after massive tuna catch.

Read the ABC article about the blind man’s barrel tuna catch.

Job Opportunities at Blind Low Vision NZ

The latest job opportunities at Blind Low Vision NZ are listed below. For the complete list, click here to visit the Blind Low Vision NZ Careers website.

Ka kite anō

Please let us know what you think of Kōrero. We welcome suggestions for what you would like us to include and any tips or stories you would like to share with the community. Get in touch on 0800 24 33 33 or via communications@blindlowvision.org.nz.