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Music therapy five years old in NZ

 Media Release                                                                                             

March 18, 2009 

Music therapy five years old in NZ

New Zealand’s one and only music therapy centre is five years old today (Wed. Mar. 18).

The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Auckland provides music therapy for special needs children of school age and younger. It’s the country’s sole music therapy centre and sees up to 100 clients a week, compared to only 36 children in total in its first year of operation.

The inspiration for the Centre came when well-known singer-songwriter Hinewehi Mohi, her husband George, and daughter Hineraukatauri, who has severe cerebral palsy, spent time at the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre in London in 1999.

Reviewing progress over five years, Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust Chairman Campbell Smith says 2008 proved a tough year for the not-for-profit sector.

“We have had great community and music industry support over the years but there’s no doubt challenging times are ahead. The total budget to run the centre is around $500,000 a year, but through falling interest rates trusts and foundations have been hard hit - and that’s a big source of income for us.

“It’s tough for all charities and it means we are going to have to dip in to capital funds reserved for new premises just to keep the centre running. That’s a huge pity because with the growth in client numbers we are experiencing we really do need new and better facilities.”

The centre operates from headquarters in Newton and also currently runs four Outreach programmes at Auckland schools. But Mr Smith says the demand for music therapy is now growing throughout New Zealand.

“One of our goals is to widen our geographic reach to meet demand from outside Auckland. To do so will require funding and right now we are feeling the pain of the recession so things really are on hold.”

The centre receives no government funding and clients pay only as much as they can afford. Though funding from some sources was down in 2008, in other areas the centre had a reasonable 2008.

“We have a wonderful group of supporters who came out in force for our annual fundraising gala dinner and auction, where we raised about $150,000. We are extremely thankful for all the generous donations of time, goods and musical talent that made the night so extraordinary.”

Some highlights of the centre’s last five years include:
- Increasing the number of music therapists to four, from just one five years ago.
- Starting the Outreach programme, which has been delivered to eight Auckland schools.
- Establishing a full-time Director’s position for the running of the centre.
- Offering placements at the centre to Master of Music Therapy students from the New Zealand School of Music.

Music therapy is about building bridges of communication through music and helping clients develop new skills, which can be transferred to other aspects of life.

The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre supports clients with physical, intellectual, behavioural and emotional issues. Through music therapy, the children can improve motor skills and speech, grow their self-confidence and self-awareness, strengthen social skills and improve memory, behaviour, and concentration.

“Sustainable growth and development through music therapy can greatly improve the quality of life of these children, and of the people around them, including parents and caregivers, siblings and classmates,” Mr Smith says.

Music therapists work with individuals and groups seeking to discover how each person relates and responds to music through engaging them in a musical dialogue.

The centre has a number of support organisations, including the Lion Foundation, Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust, United Way, Southern Trust, and Robbie Horton Trust, and has received numerous private donations. It gets great support from New Zealand musicians, many of whom perform at trust functions.

People wishing to contribute to the cause can donate online at www.rmtc.org.nz/donations

For further information about its activities and how to support the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre, please visit www.rmtc.org.nz.

ends

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