Rotorua's Rose Murfitt and her family are living, breathing examples of the benefits of fighting for what you believe in.

Ten years ago the Rotorua Daily Post highlighted the case of then 2-year-old Rose, whose family was expected to find $20,000 for speech therapy and audiology services because her cochlear implant operation was carried out in the United States.

The implants mimic the workings of the ear and enable deaf people to learn how to listen and understand spoken language.

Rose became the face of a campaign by her grandmother Jennifer Minty for better public funding for all deaf children with cochlea implants.

Advertisement

Minty's efforts were never just about her own granddaughter - the family turned down an offer to publicly fund some of Rose's treatment, because the Ministry of Health would not extend the offer to other children in the same situation.

Their persistence paid off as the law around funding was changed and now included all children who received implants overseas.

"We took the Government to task over it and we won. We changed the law. I was thrilled, I really was. It was a big deal," Minty said.

Rose Murfitt (left) and grandmother Jennifer Minty pictured on Loud Shirt Day in 2008. Ten years later the pair continue to proudly support the cause. Photo / File
Rose Murfitt (left) and grandmother Jennifer Minty pictured on Loud Shirt Day in 2008. Ten years later the pair continue to proudly support the cause. Photo / File

Being unable to hear can be a huge barrier to learning and socialising, but with her implants Rose, who is now 12, is excelling at school and enjoying a life of inclusion.

"Everything's going pretty good," Rose said - a modest answer from a girl who is in the accelerated programme at Kaitao Intermediate School.

Tiffany said her daughter "lived in both worlds".

"The implants make a huge difference. Even if she just takes off the external device, she's completely deaf. Without them, she wouldn't have been able to learn how to speak with clarity and she'd be reliant on sign language.

"It's not a cure for deafness at all, but it's a tool. She's still part of the deaf community, but she's also part of the hearing community. She is fully integrated and mainstreamed, like every other kid her age, and we're looking at high schools for next year."

Advertisement

Rose gives the impression she takes most things in her stride with a smile or a laugh, perhaps something many of us could learn from.

When this reporter asked whether she took the implants out when she didn't want to listen to her parents, she laughed but her lips were sealed.

Loud Shirt Day
Loud Shirt Day is on Friday September 28 and aims to help deaf kids learn to listen and talk like their hearing friends.
Money raised during Loud Shirt Day goes to The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme.
This Saturday, Rotorua's Children's Art House is running an event from 10am-2pm during which people can decorate an old shirt for Loud Shirt Day. All of the art supplies will be provided, but you will need to bring along a shirt to decorate.