Another 60 adults will once again be able to hear thanks to a boost in funding for cochlear implants.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman this morning announced an extra $6.5 million would be spent on providing cochlear implants for adults.

There are currently 224 adults on the waiting list for a funded cochlear implant.

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that does the work of a damaged inner ear to provide sound signals to the brain.


Up until now there has been funding for only 40 a year but in 2017/18 there will be money available for 100 people to have the life-changing procedure.

The money, taken from another part of the health system, would take the Cochlear Implant Programme's total funding to $14.93m, Coleman said.

"The investment will also increase the capacity within the system and cover the additional audiology and rehabilitation time required to support such a massive uplift."

Levin surf lifesaver Danielle Mackay, 22, has been waiting for a publicly-funded implant for more than three years and will now finally get one.

Danielle Mackay, 22, will get the cochlear implant she needs thanks to extra funding from the Government. Photo/Supplied
Danielle Mackay, 22, will get the cochlear implant she needs thanks to extra funding from the Government. Photo/Supplied

"When I was first told I was losing hearing in both ears I was shocked and scared, but I thought living in a country like New Zealand meant I would be okay," she said.

"[Since then] my hearing has deteriorated and I haven't been able to hear my family or boyfriend speak to me."

It was her experience that led her to spearhead the successful campaign for publicly-funded cochlear implants for every Kiwi who needed one.

More than 26,600 New Zealanders signed the petition run by Mackay and health coalition


"The extra funding is amazing," she said. "However, this morning I received some messages from people telling me they missed out on a cochlear implant. It made me sad, because the point was that no one who is needing an cochlear implant should have to miss out." co-ordinator Simon Oosterman said no one should have to fight for the right to hear.

"Danielle is an amazing young woman who has never wavered in her belief that she has a right to hear," he said.

But despite the extra funding, many Kiwis would still miss out, Oosterman said.

A cochlear implant costs about $45,000 for surgery, implant and switch-on.

The processors need to be replaced every six to seven years, which costs about $10,000 each time.

Until now about 86 New Zealanders received funded cochlear implants each year - about 16 were infants, 30 were children aged 2-18 and 40 were adults.