Our organisation took another step forward as we welcomed our first affiliate member organisation during our Conference 2012.

Our organisation took another step forward as we welcomed our first affiliate member organisation during our Conference 2012.

Tāmaki Ngāti Kāpō is a consumer organisation formed and driven by blind and vision impaired Maori and their whanau. Their primary objective is to advocate for, support and promote awareness of the needs of blind and vision impaired Maori. Their focus is primarily in the Auckland area but they have members who live in other parts of the country. Their organisation has been running now for ten years after going out on their own from Ngāti Kāpō o Aotearoa.

They started with little, but now have a part-time administrator, and offices located in the Parent and Family Resource Centre in Onehunga, Auckland. They receive regular funding from sources such as the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, Te Puni Kokiri and the Community Organisations Grants Scheme (COGS).

Their Administrator, John Puhara, said they do their best to help their members with whatever difficulties they may be facing, such as with Housing New Zealand, Work and Income and other agencies. Sometimes they can help directly, but usually they try to refer the member to other services in the community, such as budgeting advice.

They also provide peer support opportunities by running regular social activities and functions. This lets people get to know each other so people who may be facing any of life’s challenges can know they are not alone.

They issue panui or newsletters twice a year, and run a weekly bulletin on the Telephone Information Service, option 5 4 1. This weekly TIS bulletin called “Te Korero o Tāmaki” has been their primary way to get information out to their members since the organisation began. They pioneered the use of three-way calling to allow two people to present the bulletin using a friendly chat style, and they have also used the technique to do regular interviews.

John said they never really knew what the future would hold for them when they launched their organisation some ten years ago. He said they have just worked quietly away, taking one small step at a time. He said the most important thing is to be accountable for everything you do, and make sure to keep your funders fully informed. He also paid tribute to the many willing volunteers that help make their activities happen and ensure everyone can be involved.

Blind and vision impaired Maori have played their part in Blind Citizens NZ ever since our organisation began as the Dominion Association of the Blind in 1945. John explained that even though a number of members of Tāmaki Ngāti Kāpō are also active in Blind Citizens NZ, they decided to affiliate because they support our philosophy and feel it is appropriate that we also speak on behalf of their members in our submissions and public statements. John and I both hope this will also encourage more blind and vision impaired Maori to take an interest in our activities.

Blind Citizens NZ has been in existence for nearly 68 years, but it is only in the last few years that we have allowed other organisations to affiliate. The rules for organisations wishing to affiliate can be found in our Constitution and policies which are available from our National Office.

Organisations which affiliate to Blind Citizens NZ can participate in our National Conference much like any one of our branches. They can appoint a delegate to our Conference and can put forward remits and resolutions like other branches, and they will receive copies of our minutes and other documents which routinely go to our branches. Tāmaki Ngāti Kāpō is a voting affiliate organisation which means their delegate can vote at Conference just like any other branch.

Blind Citizens NZ sees affiliation as a way for other organisations with similar philosophy to recognise that in the end the work we do benefits the whole blind community. By affiliating, their members can influence our decisions and be part of the total community of blind and vision impaired people we represent.

We welcome the members of Tāmaki Ngāti Kāpō into our whanau so together we can speak with a stronger voice. If you are in a consumer organisation of blind and vision impaired people, why not encourage your organisation to also affiliate so together we can be even stronger.