Little Naketa Silvey is delighted to strum away on her ukulele, smiling hugely as she sings "Twinkle, twinkle little star ..."

For this previously profoundly-deaf four-year-old, the world has now become a place of exciting, interesting and new sounds that expands every day.

"She loves to go outside and listen to the birds," says her mum, Kelly, of Nawton.

Naketa is one of hundreds of deaf children in the northern half of the North Island whose lives have become filled with sounds, thanks to The Hearing House, based in Greenlane, Auckland.


As part of the house's operation, an annual Loud Shirt Day is being held on Friday, September 21, throughout the region to raise funds for the organisation.

The Hearing House, which was founded in 1998, caters to hundreds of preschool children each year who have cochlear implants, or hearing aids.

They are taught how to use their hearing equipment and to begin to talk properly and understand sound.

Naketa, born profoundly deaf, received her cochlear implant through The Hearing House when she was eight months old.

"We turned her implant on four days before Christmas and it was the first time she had heard sound," says Kelly.

"Her little face was just all smiles. Within a month she was beginning to say 'Mum, mum, mum'.

"We have never treated her differently and now she knows she is deaf, but she can talk perfectly well and is always happy.

"She loves to listen and is always asking about new noises."


Kelly says that without the ongoing help of The Hearing House, Naketa would not be anywhere near as skilled in speech, or as happy.

For Shane Hodges and his staff at New Zealand Couriers in Hamilton, getting involved in Loud Shirt Day is something of a highlight each year.

Mr Hodges, branch manager of the courier service in Hamilton, says this is at least the third year his 15 to 20 office staff had got "right into it".

"It's sort of evolved," he says. "It began when our sales manager turned up for the day dressed in latter-day Elvis Presley gear - white jump-suit, gold medallions, sun glasses - the whole bit.

"Since then everyone has had a go at it. We've had Priscilla Queen of the Desert, one of the ladies came as the Four Square Man last year. They all get dressed up."

Mr Hodges says it's a great day at the company's office. For several weeks staff members have been working on new outfits for the day.

"We also make it a fundraising day. We have buckets out, and clients and contractors make donations. Some of our clients make donations online. We usually raise $300-$500."