Imagine never hearing bird song, and knowing that within months you won't even be able to hear the voices of your own family.

This is a reality for Horowhenua woman Danielle McKay.

However, last week the government announced it will boost funding for cochlear implants by $6.5 million to help another 60 people per year to hear, including Danielle.

She had received news in March that her hearing was getting worse and within months it could be gone altogether.


With top of the line hearing aids, cochlear implants are her only hope, however she kept getting bumped off the waiting list, and has been waiting three years.

Only 40 implants were being publicly funded per year, and 214 people were on the waiting list.

Danielle, 22, decided to quit her job as a surf lifesaver at Waitarere to focus on campaigning for an increase in funding.

During that time she completely lost hearing in one ear and is close to losing the hearing in her other ear.

Danielle started a petition to increase funding for cochlear implants.

The day before she was to present her petition to parliament she received a letter from health officials informing her she would not be getting an implant this year.

In the face of her personal disappointment Danielle still took the petition to parliament on behalf of the other 173 people also not receiving the implants this year.

"Having hearing means having a life of opportunity," Danielle said.

She had earlier shared her struggle to hold down a job with Otaki MP Nathan Guy, telling him how potential employers saw her as the 'deaf girl', and how without the implant she was looking at a future of silence.

Mr Guy took her cause to the office of the Minister of Health.

"There [had to] be a way of getting Danielle through the system. She's been on the cusp a number of times and been queue-jumped by other people who have had a greater need," he said.

"I was delighted to lobby for Danielle ... I'll be advocating for her to get it this year."

My Guy said that her story had touched the hearts and minds of many in Horowhenua and throughout New Zealand.

However, Danielle is not sure if she will get the cochlear implants before she looses her hearing completely.

"If I [do] lose my hearing, and then get the cochlear implant ... there is still a chance of getting my hearing back," she said.

Once she has received the cochlear implants, Danielle will go through intensive training, including talking and listening to family and friends to help her train her voice and ears again.

"With the cochlear implant, it's expected I will hear new sounds I've never heard before. I'll have to figure out what those sounds are," she said.

Currently 40 people per year receive implants but that will increase to 100 per year once the $6.5m extra funding kicks in.

Danielle said she was overwhelmed by the result.

"All the advocating I've done has paid off.

"With the cochlear implants I'll be able to work, [employers] won't see me as the deaf person.

"It will definitely give me opportunities, like studying."

In response to media speculation that the extra funding is 'an election bribe' Mr Guy said the government books "just opened up [last] week" to allow some spending choices or investments.

"Danielle has created a lot of awareness about cochlear implants and her story has raised the importance of this issue.

"This young lady [and others] deserves a fair go," he said.