Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

12 Days of Christmas: Donation is music to children's ears

Ryan Herbert plays the piano at the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Grey Lynn. Photo / Supplied
Ryan Herbert plays the piano at the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Grey Lynn. Photo / Supplied

This Christmas, the Herald is again featuring charities which have been selected for a $10,000 donation from Auckland Airport. The $120,000 to be distributed came from change donated by travellers this year.

Where words fail, music speaks.

For the children who attend the Raukatauri Music Centre in Auckland, that is very much the case.

The centre - also a charitable trust - is one of 12 charities to receive a $10,000 grant from Auckland Airport this Christmas.

Based in Grey Lynn, it has helped hundreds of children since it was opened eight years ago.

Music therapists work with children with special needs, interacting and communicating with them by allowing them to make music with a range of instruments.

Raukatauri - which refers to the Maori goddess of flutes or music - was founded by well-known Kiwi songstress Hinewehi Mohi, whose daughter Hineraukatauri has severe cerebral palsy.

Director Anne Bailey said the money would go towards employing another music therapist for the centre - meaning up to 10 more children could attend a session every week.

"We work with lots of children with autism and cerebral palsy and those who have difficulty with their speech.

"Music is so important because everyone reacts emotionally to music. It's very important to be able to reach somebody," she said.

"It's a very playful way to reach people and we build relationships through music. We build up trust and and all of those things in a relationship, by making music."

Jacinta Cunnington, of Devonport, said music therapy had done wonders for her 10-year-old son James, who is autistic.

"Before music therapy he used to be in his own little world. He wasn't engaged at all. Now, he's more tolerant and he interacts."

Mrs Cunnington said her son had been coming to the centre for the past two years.

She credited the work of therapists and their ability to empathise with her son, while teaching him to be a better person through music. "It's just awesome to see him develop.

"It's just improved the quality of his life. It's good to find something that makes him tick. Something that he enjoys and is fun but also educational."

Auckland Airport general manager corporate relations Charles Spillane said they were glad to help a charity that was working closely with young people.

"What they are contributing to society, and the wonderful work they are doing with these children, is invaluable.

"We are very excited to be able to give this grant to such a worthwhile cause."

- NZ Herald

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