Taranaki has become the leader of the pack for New Zealand's furriest little listeners.
The not-for-profit organisation Hearing Dogs NZ is now entirely managed and governed in Taranaki following a change announced last week.
The trust was established in 1998. While the National Training Centre has been based in New Plymouth since it opened in 2000, the charitable trust has always been managed and governed from Auckland as well as Taranaki
Last week general manager of the trust Clare McLaughlin said Hearing Dogs NZ is now entirely operated in Taranaki.
"We are delighted to say the whole trust has been returned to New Plymouth, the Auckland office is closed, and all management, administration, training and governance is now officially based in New Plymouth," Clare says.
"Taranaki is a very caring community and having everything centralised, especially when you are such a small charity, will be a huge benefit in terms of open communication and support for everyone concerned."
Moving all parts of Hearing Dogs NZ home to Taranaki provides a sense of security and continuity for the recipients of the dogs, and allows for an excellent relationship with a locally based Board of Trustees.
"We also have many volunteers here in New Plymouth who have been providing us with immeasurable support for the past 20 years," Clare says.
"Not to mention our lasting long-term staff and talented supporters. We all now have confidence in the future of Hearing Dogs NZ continuing to maintain its professional service to the deaf and hearing impaired throughout New Zealand."
Over the years 127 hearing dogs have been successfully trained at the centre, at the cost of about $30,000 each. They are trained to gently paw their humans when they hear sounds the human needs to be aware of - such as fire alarms, doorbell, alarm clock, baby monitor or a cooking timer.
Clare says the challenge will be to continually secure funding needed to run the trust - about $300,000 each year.
"Currently that money is coming from donations and grant funding through philanthropic trusts. We receive no government funding," she says.
The new trustees are Brian Busing, Catherine Quin, Chris Haunton, Deb Tawa and Rob Mills.
Chairman Brian Busing says the trustees are focusing on supporting and guiding the organisation in a steady and responsible manner.
"The trust's only income is by bequests and donations. We get monthly donations from people who appreciate the benefit and joy of the dogs, and many other charities give us a share of their income."
"The main goal the new trustees have set for the manager is to operate within the limits of the annual income. Any bequest received is to be spread over multiple years, so in this way there is no boom and bust cycle."
Busing says if the trust was able to increase its income in the future then it may be possible to increase the number of dogs being trained, as well as the number of trainers.