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Mazda Foundation supports culture, innovation and education

7 June 2019

New sensory equipment for a special school, therapy horses and Māori performing arts costumes were among the 33 grants from the latest round of Mazda Foundation funding.

Over $113,000 has been gifted to community organisations and individuals across New Zealand, supporting people and projects in education, environment and those in need.

Goldfields School in Paeroa provides special needs education for students aged five to 21. In recent years, it’s seen an increase in students with sensory needs, including those on the Autism Spectrum.

The school has constructed its own sensory suite, with both light and dark rooms to cater to students with sensory needs. Research shows that multi-sensory environments can develop or re-activate senses, increase brain function and induce calmness.

The school received $3,277.50 to purchase a Protac sensit seat, a portable sensory seating system that strengthens body awareness and concentration, with sections that cross over the body increasing stimulation of the senses.

Susie Nyika, a Physiotherapist at Goldfields School says the school has seen an increase in students with more complex needs and the sensory suite is part of its commitment to creating a space that caters to all students.

“The rooms provide students with a space between work sessions to reduce anxiety and stress. It is a calming space that promotes learning on a sensory level and uses sensory experiences to facilitate learning.”

“In some cases, teachers will work with students inside the sensory suite as the quiet environment increases their engagement. Students respond differently to each room so having a portable seating system like the Protac Sensit is incredibly beneficial for them.”

Awakeri Playcentre, a parent co-op organisation based in Whakatane, received $2,992 to purchase a range of play equipment including animal finger puppets and Māori performing arts costumes.

The playcentre, which caters to children ages 0 to six years of age, believe role play is an important tool to educate children on real world experiences and help them grow into well-rounded, inclusive people.

Tara Murphy, Vice-President at Awakeri Playcentre says as well as engaging their imagination and creativity, role play helps them understand and cope with real-life situations.

“Role play has many benefits, but it ultimately gives us clues into what a particular child may be interested in or struggling to make sense of. We can then work to find another way to explain a situation or promote positive interactions.

“We are committed to creating a multi-cultured environment for our children and view it as one of our responsibilities to promote te reo Māori and Tikanga Māori within our centre and integrating the kotiro, piu piu and korowai into daily life will support this.”

In Wellington, Riding for the Disabled has relocated to a new facility to support an increasing capacity, allowing them to provide more opportunities for those with disabilities. It has received $5,000 to purchase two new therapy horses.

Riding for the Disabled provides goal-based riding activities to increase the ability, strength and confidence of people with physical, intellectual, emotional and social challenges.

Each year the Mazda Foundation hosts three funding rounds to help Kiwis in need, having gifted over $3.5 million back to the community since its inception in 2005.

David Hodge, Managing Director of Mazda New Zealand and Chairman of the Mazda Foundation says he is always inspired by the Kiwi and organisations working to make a difference.

“Whether it is providing vital funds for life-changing surgery and equipment or helping community focused groups continue the fantastic work they do – I’m proud that the Mazda Foundation can lend a helping hand.”

The Mazda Foundation is funded through a contribution from the sale of every new Mazda in New Zealand. For information on other recipients visit

Applications for the next round of Mazda Foundation funding applications close on June 30, 2019. For more information or to download an application form,


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