Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 22 (April 1958)
– 53 –


To hear, to speak, to touch, to smell, to see, to take part in all that nature has to offer, is the desire of everyone.

And yet one small act of carelessness, one minor mishap on the part of a mother may result in permanent injury to her child, depriving it of full participation in the joys and thrills of life—depriving it of its rightful heritage to enter this world fully equipped to share in all that life has to offer.

Lately I had the occasion to visit the schools for the blind and the deaf in Auckland. Both schools draw their cases from the whole of the North Island except for the Wellington Province I went there not knowing quite what to expect. I was conducted round the classes and to my astonishment there was always one Maori, sometimes more, in each class. In fact I learned that one-third of the number admitted to these special schools are Maoris: a phenomenal figure when one considers that Maoris only constitute one-sixteenth of the total New Zealand population. What is the reason for this excessive number of Maoris in these schools? What can be done about it?

Let me quote some cases that live in the school:

Ray is a boy who has been kicked on the head by a horse. He has been going progressively blind until he is at a stage where he is almost totally blind.

Lilly has been admitted because she is totally blind. She has up till now been educationally neglected and is consequently backward schol-astically. During her first fourteen years at home she developed a fear of sex which resulted in emotional outbursts and general instability, though with institutional care she has improved considerably.

Kiwi is a blind boy who has been neglected. Consequently he is emotionally unstable and scholastically backward; had he been admitted earlier this could have been prevented. There are many cases similar to this. They are admitted so that they can be taught to partially overcome their disability and to take their place in the community as normal adults.

Carol is a six year old Maori girl. Her mother ran away from home, leaving Carol and five other young brothers and sisters. This traumatic emotional experience caused partial blindness to Carol which, although she still partly sees, is progressively becoming complete.

There are many other cases of neglect and

– 54 –