Meet the newest members of the Raukatauri whānau

GWEN EVANS - REGISTERED MUSIC THERAPIST

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Gwen made the journey from Wales at the end of June to join the team at RMTC. She completed her Masters in Music Therapy at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London in July 2018 and then spent three months volunteering as a music therapist in Bethlehem, Palestine with children with various disabilities. Gwen’s working week at Raukatauri includes three days at the Centre in Grey Lynn, with the other two days spent running Outreach programmes on Waiheke Island and in Pukekohe.  She says:

‘When I saw a position advertised for a music therapist in New Zealand, I jumped at the chance to pursue my dream career on the other side of the world. Undoubtedly, it has been a big move to leave family and friends back in Wales but I could not have been more welcomed and looked after by my Raukatauri whᾱnau. It’s such a joy and pleasure to come into work every day to see all the wonderful clients and their families. I am very much looking forward to the longer summer days for my weekly trip to Waiheke Island, visiting the three schools. I do feel quite smug about getting the Waiheke gig and being the newest member of the team!! There have been plenty of challenges and difficult days, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come, but I rest assured knowing that I am surrounded by a wonderful, supportive team, who always find a way to make me smile!’

ZACH FARR - Student Music Therapist

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Zach joined RMTC as a student music therapist from Georgia College and State University in the USA in July.  He will be interning with the team through June 2020 and made the move to New Zealand with his new wife Emma.  Zach works with clients at our Grey Lynn Centre and in community placements such as Waitakere College, and when he’s not at RMTC he is teaching yoga all over Auckland.  Zach says: 

‘From the first interaction I had with the team at Raukatauri, I could immediately feel the warmth and integrity that runs through the veins of the Centre. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do my student placement with such an amazing and diverse team. They’ve been deeply supportive to my wife and me as we’ve made the transition to a new country, and they provide me with such inspiration and wisdom as I deepen my practice in music therapy. But the absolute highlight of my experience here thus far is the wonderful people that I see in sessions from day to day. To be able to witness the growth and joy that arises through the process of music therapy is a true blessing. The practice is one that uplifts the humanity of the person, and the ethos of the Centre supports this aim in such an apparent and effective way.

In addition to the clients and the team, I can feel the extended generous support that the Trust receives, which makes it such an integral and thriving resource. From the instrument supply to the facilities, everything makes for an environment that can effectively nurture the individual and provide the therapists with the tools we need to support our clients.

I’m honoured to be a part of this amazing team, and look forward to watching this all continue to unfold.’ 

JEZ FRANCIS - REGISTERED MUSIC THERAPIST

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Jez is Raukatauri’s latest international arrival, having joined the team from Manchester, United Kingdom in September.  He brings terrific experience to the role, having not only trained as a Nordoff-Robbins music therapist in Manchester, but also having worked for the police department there for over 10 years.  Jez says:

‘I was very grateful to get the chance to apply for the post at Raukatauri and thrilled to bits to get the job.  The centre, their work and approach really resonated with me and is the reason it was easy to make the decision to come over here, despite leaving behind a family and a lifetime of friends and interests.

However, from my first contact with the team I have felt nothing but welcomed and supported. Everybody is so warm, helpful and considerate it has really made the transition easy. I love working with people, and being able to use music to help people of all ages grow and develop is a real privilege. I love the work – it’s the best job in the world, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and doing my bit to help grow the centre and spread the inspiring work that it does.

On a personal level, New Zealand ticks a whole bunch of other boxes as well as I am into music, motorcycling, running and the outdoor life and look forward to the day when I can share that with my wife and children when they come over here.

In short, I have come from the UK to NZ to continue doing the things I love, just with better scenery and weather!’


Music Therapy Arrives on Waiheke Island

After lots of planning and even more fundraising, Raukatauri’s latest school partnership, this time with the Waiheke Island Schools, began in Term 3.  Registered Music Therapist Gwen Evans catches the ferry each Thursday morning and arrives to a busy day on the island where she zips between all three schools (Waiheke Primary, Te Huruhi Primary and Waiheke High School), working with 16 children and young people with special needs each week.  Having only arrived in New Zealand in June, Gwen couldn’t believe her luck as the RMTC staff member who was given the assignment to travel weekly to one of the country’s most gorgeous spots.  Not only is the commute beautiful, Gwen has been welcomed with open arms on the island, with parents and school staff running her between locations and the wharf each week. 

Organising and implementing the programme was a real labour of love for Raukatauri, as well as the parents and schools on the island who often struggle to access the specialist services available on the mainland.  The project was initiated by parent Rachel Miles who, prior to her family’s move to Waiheke, attended music therapy in Auckland with her son Sam.  Rachel says, “We are so thrilled to have Raukatauri Music Therapy come to Waiheke! We moved to the island from Auckland less than a year ago and one thing we felt was a crushing loss was leaving behind music therapy.”  School staff report that the time and expense involved in the ferry crossing often serve as a barrier to services like music therapy, but after applying to grant funders and community organisations, Raukatauri was able to access funding for this programme from ANZ Staff Foundation, the Jassy Dean Trust, Auckland Council Waiheke Local Board, RMTC friends and supporters Eric Johnston and Alison Buchanan, and Fullers – meaning a full year of fully funded music therapy for the island’s three schools!  We are so grateful to these generous supporters and proud to have them as members of the Raukatauri whānau.  Rachel’s comments make it clear how much the families value this support also when she says, “Sam is inspired by music and the incredibly talented people at Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre never fail to amaze us. We had been truly blessed to have had the opportunity for music therapy and are now so pleased that our son can continue to develop his love and passion for music, and that other children can experience that too.  Thank you Jen and team. You are absolute stars.”

The Waiheke Island Schools join 13 other mainstream schools, special schools and early learning centres in Auckland and Northland who partner with Raukatauri to access music therapy services for their students with disabilities.  The music therapy services that RMTC provides to schools focus on the development of the New Zealand key competencies, with much of the focus being on Relating to others and Participating and contributing.  In addition to working towards these key competencies, the music therapists develop and track goals specific to each child, which often address communication, socialization, cognitive and motor skill development.  All of this is possible thanks to the safe, accepting environment provided by the Registered Music Therapist where the unique contribution of each child or young person is valued and where opportunities for communication, interaction and relationship are provided.  If you know of a school or early childhood centre in Auckland, Northland or Hawke’s Bay who would benefit from music therapy, please be in touch with the Centre to discuss how they might be able to access our services. 

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Raukatauri spreads its music therapy wings

When the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre first opened in 2004 it had just one client, one music therapist and two instruments – a violin and a piano. Fifteen years later the centre has over 260 clients, nine music therapists and more than 500 different instruments. 

The Auckland-based centre, which is New Zealand’s only music therapy centre, has recently set up regional centres in Hawke’s Bay and Northland, and earlier this year it expanded its Auckland services to include weekly sessions at Starship Children’s Hospital and the Mason Clinic, which provides forensic psychiatry services in Auckland. And in August this year, it started a weekly programme at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison. 

Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre’s commitment to providing music therapy to people who have emotional, intellectual, physical and social challenges was recognised at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019 on 11 September when it received the Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award.

In their comments, the judging panel said: “This nomination had the wow factor! Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre delivers quality programmes to a wide range of clients and their families with outstanding results. It has a clearly articulated vision and policies, responding to need and expanding its services beyond Auckland and into Hawke’s Bay and Northland.” 

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Centre Director Jen Ryckaert says their clients range in age from one to 70 but most of them are school-aged and have a variety of developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome.

She says around 75% of clients attend one-on-one sessions with a registered music therapist and the rest attend small-group programmes. In both cases, participants play instruments, sing, dance and move around the room.

“Music therapy isn’t passive. It’s very, very active. It’s about using music to address non-musical goals such as increasing communication, improving social and emotional skills, and improving cognition. It involves both the music and the therapeutic relationship.”

Jen says research has found that taking part in musical activities can help form new neural pathways in the brain. MRI scans have also shown that singing lights up the brain’s pleasure centres.

“It’s an incredibly enjoyable and motivating experience.”

The centre was set up in 2004 by singer/songwriter Hinewehi Mohi, whose daughter, Hineraukatauri, has severe cerebral palsy. She experienced life-changing benefits from the music therapy sessions she took part in during a family trip to London in 1999 and Hinewehi wanted other New Zealanders to have the same opportunity.

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Since then, the centre has expanded its services to include five satellites in Auckland and more than 20 outreach projects, including the new service at Starship Children’s Hospital that started in March 2019. A therapist works one-on-one with children in the cardiac, long-term medical and neuro wards with very positive results.

“It provides amazing anxiety relief and can offer pain relief,” Jen says. “It’s also fun and stimulating for those kids and their families.”

In June 2018, the Trust opened a regional centre in Hawke’s Bay. This was followed by a second regional centre in Whangarei, which opened in February 2019.

Jen says the motivation to expand their services into the regions came from a 2016 survey, which found that New Zealand had only eight music therapists working outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

All the centre’s therapists have master’s degrees in music therapy and are accomplished musicians. Some are particularly skilled at using taonga pūoro – traditional Māori musical instruments such as flutes and percussion instruments.

Taonga pūoro are among the more than 500 different instruments the centre now owns, ranging from orchestral instruments such as violins and clarinets to a wide variety of percussion instruments, including a marimba.

The centre is committed to making sure its services are accessible to anyone who want to use them, regardless of their income. It runs an active fundraising programme to help keep the cost to clients as low as possible.

“We don’t get any direct government funding, and the Centre Manager and I spend a lot of our time applying for grants,” Jen says.


 

RMTC brings music therapy to Northland for the first time!

Until recently, residents of Northland were unable to access the life-changing benefits of music therapy – a fact that has changed with the official opening of Raukatauri’s Northland Regional Centre on the 9th of March, an initiative supported by Foundation North.

Raukatauri has found the perfect home for its Regional Centre - the beautiful Old Library right in the middle of Whangarei.  Registered Music Therapist Katie Boom offers music therapy sessions here on Wednesdays and Saturdays in a beautiful sunny room stocked with instruments, thanks to the amazing generosity of KBB Music and Remo Inc.  As at all of Raukatauri’s locations, sessions in Northland are goal-oriented and strengths-based, and use music to aid in the growth and development of children and adults with special needs.

Katie is familiar to many members of the Raukatauri whānau, as she has been working with us in Auckland since 2017.  As a Whangarei native, she is particularly excited to be the first music therapist working in Northland and sees many opportunities for music therapy there, both at the Old Library and through work directly in the community.  The Northland community clearly agrees with Katie, as since announcing our opening date we have been receiving enquiries almost daily from families and community organisations from Dargaville to Kawakawa!

You can read more about the Northland Regional Centre in this recent article from the Northern Advocate.  If you would like to refer a child or adult for music therapy sessions in Northland, you can use our online referral form found here.  If you would like to enquire about music therapy for your organisation, or have questions about any of our locations, you can reach us at info@rmtc.org.nz or on 09 360 0889.

Photos below were taken at our Opening Celebration which took place on the 9th March.

RMTC - open in Hawke's Bay!

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Five months in and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Centre is going … and growing … strong!  Families rave about the sessions offered by Registered Music Therapist Will Darbyshire with one mum saying recently, “I love the open lines of communication with Will and the discussions around the girls’ progress and goals.  It is focused, fun and really worthwhile.”

As in Auckland, RMTC Hawke’s Bay is conscious of the need to make music therapy convenient and accessible for families so offers sessions in both Napier and Havelock North.  We also strive to make the sessions personalised to the needs of every client, offering individual, family and small group music therapy for clients of all ages – from early intervention services for toddlers to music therapy session for those with dementia.  If you’d like to refer someone to music therapy, or just want to learn more about our services in Hawke’s Bay, please contact us on 06 870 3990 or at info@rmtc.org.nz

 One of the best things about opening in Hawke’s Bay has been introducing the work that RMTC does to a whole new audience. Will has received a warm welcome from the health, disability and education communities, and has been made to feel right at home in his two therapy locations – Tamatea High School in Napier and the Havelock North Function Centre.  We have been thrilled to receive funding support for the Regional Centre from COGS Kahungunu Ki Heretaunga, First Light Community Foundation and Hawke’s Bay Foundation and were particularly excited by the recent gift of a brand new piano by Huawei. The delivery of the fabulous new piano was captured by the Napier Courier, who featured it on their front page, and full details can be seen here.

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