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Music therapy centre has much to celebrate

March 17, 2005

Music therapy centre has much to celebrate on first birthday

On the first anniversary of the country’s only dedicated music therapy centre more than 30 children with disabilities and previously unable to communicate are today celebrating taking giant steps towards doing so.

The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre opened in Auckland on March 18, 2004 and has been an outstanding success currently treating 25 children from as far away as Warkworth.

The centre has been so successful and the demand for places so great, the trust running it plans to double capacity by mid-winter, hiring a second therapist and moving to new bigger premises.

The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre’s current sole therapist is Yid-Ee Goh, a UK-qualified New Zealander who says there have been many highlights to the first year.

“There’s no doubt the centre has increased the public’s awareness of the benefits of music therapy,” Mr Goh says. “But what is especially pleasing is that I have seen tremendous changes in the children.”

Mr Goh cites the example of of a young girl with severe cerebral palsy Hineraukatauri Mohi who has opened herself vocally to the point where sometimes she is actually singing and taking part in song.

The girl’s mother is Hinewehi Mohi, a co-founder of the centre and accomplished musician, composer and film-maker. She says her daughter has had a “fantastic” year of music-making about which her family is all very excited.

“For a non-verbal child who had a tracheotomy for five years of her early life, this is nothing short of extraordinary. I am sure if she could talk she would say the music therapy sessions finally give her an undisturbed outlet for her vocal talents.

“Coming from a diva household, she has often been hard pressed to find her moments.”

Mr Goh says music therapy is a place where Hineraukatauri can explore the expressive qualities of her vocalising.

“I have met her raw emotional states such as joy and frustration and I am able to acknowledge her feelings and let her know she is heard and understood and not alone.

“We can now communicate through music using musical conversations, she is also more attentive to certain activities and her concentration levels have increased.

“Music therapy enables her for the first time to relate and communicate and express herself on her terms, something that is uniquely empowering for her,” Mr Goh says.

Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust chairman Campbell Smith says the year’s highlights for the centre began the day it opened with more than half the places filled.

“Then there was the fund-raising gala in November when, with the generous support of Brooke Fraser, Scribe and many other outstanding Kiwi musicians, more than $120,000 was raised at auction.

“Other highlights include full funding from Vodafone which has enabled us to employ a second therapist. This and the move to new bigger premises will enable us to double student capacity to 50 and to take on many of the 32 students on the waiting list.”

Mr Smith says the fact the centre is in such high demand and that it has flourished in its first year are testament to its good work.

“And I think the fact we have been able to provide a practical working environment for Massey University’s graduating music therapists is really the icing on our first anniversary cake.”

About the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre Music therapy helps build bridges of communication with sick and physically and intellectually disabled children, assisting them to develop new skills and reducing their sense of isolation.

Work at the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre is based on the internationally-acclaimed Nordoff-Robbins approach emphasising improvisation and other creative techniques.

Located in the inner Auckland suburb of Sandringham, the centre is the brainchild of a dedicated group of local music industry people, including Hinewehi Mohi and Boh and Bic Runga.

The centre has received funding and support from a number of organisations including the Lion Foundation, music industry groups RIANZ and APRA, the New Zealand Centre for Music Therapy and numerous private donations.

For further information on the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre please visit www.rmtc.org.nz

ENDS

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