At just 23 and after six years of study Riah King-Wall has the job she wants.

As programmes director of Whanganui Regional Museum she gets to create activities outside the museum's exhibitions and education programme - such as lectures, Halloween nights and River Week activities.

"I want to do as much as possible to make lot of this position. There's a lot of scope to do some creative community-driven things."

She moved to Whanganui in August to start the job before she had even finished her Masters in Museum and Heritage Studies at Victoria University. Next month- when her dissertation is finished - she'll pursue other interests in her new home.


She would like to do more sign language classes, join an orchestra, join the film society and go to places such as Bushy Park and Paloma Gardens to investigate the natural environment. With a BA in Fine Arts from Massey University, she is also looking forward to the artist open studios in March.

She loves being able to walk everywhere. Her long-term partner, Oscar Laven, is a full-time musician in Wellington.

Ms King-Wall was brought up in Katikati by "hippie-ish" parents, both teachers. Her hyphenated surname is both their surnames.

Her older brother Ty was "supersmart" and her parents decided to home school their children. Each of their three had special interests, and their school work could be scheduled around them.

Ty King-Wall is now the principal dancer with The Australian Ballet. As a teenager, Seth King-Wall competed for New Zealand in trampolining. Middle child Riah loved classical music and art.

She finished school at 16 and worked in a design and print shop, meanwhile finishing diplomas in piano and clarinet and doing a night class in sign language.

For the past two years, while studying for a masters degree at Victoria University, she worked in the university's disability support service. Being the reader/writer for students sitting exams was one of her jobs.

The university service was also used by Parliament, and when it was sitting she got to watch proceedings on a screen as they happened and type the words into a laptop, for a deaf MP in the debating chamber.

Her job title there was electronic live transcriber.

She has carried her experience with disabled people over into her new job. Her dissertation is about how museums and galleries cater for people with disabilities - including learning and sensory disabilities.

She said museums tended to be visual places.

"Later this month we're running a little pilot programme on 'touch tours' for people with vision impairment."