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Music therapist wins Goal Setter award

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Music therapist wins Goal Setter award

Mr Kahui is pictured with Dr Cullen and Professor McIlroy.

From street kid to a Massey masters music student, Dennis Kahui’s efforts to overcome obstacles and achieve educational excellence have been recognised with a $2000 Goal Setter award from the Port Nicholson Rotary Club.

Mr Kahui (Ngäti Ruanui, Ngä Ruahinerangi), originally from South Taranaki, left school at 14, worked in construction, picked asparagus and lived on the street before enrolling in a music degree at Otago University.

Although he failed every course in his first year, he persevered and completed a BA in 2004 then came to Wellington, where he is in his second year of a masters degree in music therapy at the New Zealand School of Music, a joint venture between Massey and Victoria Universities.

Tertiary Education Minister Dr Michael Cullen, who today presented the award, said Mr Kahui, 34, has not had a stereotypical tertiary career; and “one expects that nothing he will do in future will be stereotypical either. We congratulate him for his hard work, imagination, persistence and vision.”

Massey’s Wellington Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrea McIlroy, who is also a member of the Port Nicholson Rotary Club, says the award recognises outstanding individuals for their capacity to set goals and overcome barriers to achieve success in tertiary education.

Rotary established the awards in 1990 to recognise students who have overcome barriers and approached their studies as a stepping-stone to making a positive contribution to their community.

The school’s Director of Music Therapy, Associate Professor Sarah Hoskyns says Mr Kahui is a great advocate for Mäori approaches to music therapy. “He integrates te reo Mäori, kapahaka and tikanga Maori into his approach to therapy and with his clients.”

Music therapists work with adults with intellectual handicaps, people with mental health problems, children with special needs, and elderly clients. Professor Hoskyns says although music therapy is rapidly becoming accepted as mainstream, there are just 25 registered music therapists in New Zealand, and they are in high demand.

“Mr Kahui has flexible musical skills in the best aural tradition, which means he can be spontaneous and responsive to the music of his patients in music therapy. He is a natural, warm, playful communicator and he easily relates to the wide range of people he has met on his clinical placements.”

Mr Kahui’s special interest during his studies has been in learning and communicating cultural aspects of the work.

He says he loves what he does. “As a Mäori it feels a natural thing to do. It’s awesome how music releases people to talk and express themselves.”

Victoria University marine biology student Zoe Haws also received a Goal Setter award.


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