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RMTC - open in Hawke's Bay!

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

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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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"It feels like a blessing"

From being a performing guitar player to running music venues to managing rock bands in New Zealand and Australia, music has always been essential to Paul’s life.  His diagnosis of early onset dementia has resulted in him struggling to speak and unable to live independently, but the music has remained, thanks to his daughter arranging for weekly music therapy sessions at RMTC with Clinical Team Leader Russell Scoones.

While Paul’s ability to sing seems to be gone, his sense of rhythm is all there, as is his natural way of strumming a guitar or banjo.  A harmonica to his lips weaves the blues through the music he creates with Russell, and his fingers fly over the skins on the congas with quick, urgent dexterity as they find rhythms to share.  The music is alive and active, responsive and supportive.

Paul’s daughter Nikki says:

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The diagnosis of PPA and Dementia for dad, at age 68, was and is, heart-breaking. However, one of the great privileges afforded to both dad and us as a family, has been to watch dad, a passionate musician, continue to engage with music in a meaningful way, through his sessions with Russell at the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre. Although dad’s decline has been rapid, he still really enjoys his time with Russell each week and we can see that dad is able to appreciate the music they play together and he’s very ‘present’ during these sessions. It feels like a blessing to have discovered Raukatauri.


With his past behind him and his future unsure, music makes RMTC a place where Paul can be truly present.  This was never more so than when his old bandmates turned up to join him for a session one day.  The guitars and drums all came out and as the band and Russell played together, they supported not only Paul, but also each other.  Here is the strength of music therapy, as a place where we can be focused and listened to, gentle, but powerful when needed.   Riding on waves of rhythm and melody that carry us along for a while, unsure where it is going or how it may end, but ok with that.

As with all of our work at RMTC, when working with those with dementia we see the music as a connecting place between the individual’s strengths and his or her family’s hopes and dreams.  For individuals with dementia, these musical family connections can span the generations, as with Paul whose daughter, brother and sister-in-law have all been able to see him come alive in music therapy.  A similar highlight of our week comes on Tuesday mornings when a retired music educator arrives from her assisted living facility to join her great-granddaughter, a child with special needs, for their intergenerational music session with Jen.  We will be bringing this very special brand of family-focused music therapy for those with dementia to Hawke’s Bay in October when Will launches Remini-sing!, a music group for individuals with dementia and their family members of any age.  Please be in touch if you are interested in accessing sessions in Auckland or Hawke’s Bay for a loved one with dementia.  We can provide these at our Centre locations or work with assisted living facilities and support organisations to bring music therapy into your community.

Farewell and thank you to two of the RMTC whanau

We recently wished a fond farewell to two incredibly dedicated and talented members of the RMTC whanau – Yair Katz and Joan Leung. Showing incredible dedication is Joan Leung, our volunteer extraordinaire. Joan has attended the Centre each week for nine and a half years to assist with any and every task – from instrument cleaning, to admin and DVD copying. She took a short break to complete her doctorate but has been totally dedicated to the Centre. We all wished Joan a very fond au revoir (but not goodbye as she has promised to help with events in the future) in Grey Lynn in late August. Thanks again to Joan for her incredible support over the years. You will be missed!

But it was a few years before that when Yair’s journey with RMTC started, originally volunteering at the Centre in 2007. He undertook his internship, as part of his music therapy masters, here at the Centre in 2011 and joined the team upon graduating. Yair is a passionate and dedicated music therapist who went above a beyond for all his clients. Prior to relocating to the UK with his family in July, the team, families and friends wished him bon voyage at the Corban Arts Centre in Henderson. There was music making, stories, much laughter and many tears. Photos from the event are below and we wish Yair and his family all the best for their new life in the UK. 

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Centre awarded Highly Commended at the Arts Access Awards

The Centre was thrilled to be awarded a Highly Commended Certificate at the Arts Access Awards 2018. Presented to our founder Hinewehi Mohi on 1st August 2018 at Parliament, the judges noted that the “Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre and its music programmes have had a huge impact, enriching and developing the lives of thousands of people since 2004. We were totally impressed by its many achievements and outreach partnerships.” More information can be seen on the Arts Access website by following this link.

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All photos: Vanessa Rushton Photography

Centre features in Artefact TV series

Artefact is a new series on Maori TV and Episode 5 focused on Taonga puoro. The Centre were thrilled to be asked to contibute and this episode beautifully shows our work with these instruments. If you missed it you can watch it on demand - follow this link or click on the image below. Thank you to Greenstone TV and the Artefact team for the fantastic footage. 



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