The Hearing Association was founded in 1932 as the New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing by Kathleen Hurd Wood, who opened the first branch of the league in Auckland in 1932, followed by Wellington in 1935.
The Hutt Valley branch of the association was formed in 1956. Thanks to the foresight of the initial committee, and with the help of Hutt City Council and the Hon Walter Nash, a house was purchased, moved from what is now Queensgate to the current section in 1957, and adapted for our use.
Initially, the Hearing Association offered lip-reading classes, and employed tutors funded by the Education Department to undertake this work. These classes were very popular.
By the end of the 1980s, day and evening classes had been established covering total communication, which helped people cope with hearing loss. Strategies were also put into place to assist those suffering with tinnitus.
In the 1980s we began to offer hearing tests, along with broader assistance and advice, and employed hearing therapists with funding from the Health Department.
We were fully independent from 2002, and charged for our services to the public to meet costs. At about the same time we became involved in selling assistant devices such as telephones and special alarm clocks.
In 2008 we were left a bequest of $21,000 by one of our members.
The committee decided to use this money to establish an ear nurse service for the removal of ear wax by the vacuum method. This is now the core service we offer to the public.
“The Hearing Association is proud of the way it has adapted its services over the years to meet the needs of the public. In becoming a charitable trust, Hutt Valley Hearing will continue to change and evolve to ensure people are aware of looking after their hearing, and to meet the needs of the hearing impaired.”
Dedicated staff and members
Hutt Valley Hearing has been served with dedication by members and staff since it was founded.
Several people have made outstanding contributions:
- Ted Watson was one of the original people involved in the steering committee to establish the Hutt Valley branch, and served in a variety of roles from 1956 until 2000.
- Connie Garret, who was our first secretary.
- Warren Hastings, who served in various roles over the years.
- Olive Snow served on the committee for about 25 years, and kept the bowls group together.
- Pamela Cuthbert served as hearing advisor for many years and was on the committee as well.
- Verena Kibblewhite, whose empathy with the hearing impaired was well appreciated in the six years she spent with us.
- Janice Boyd, whose skills and caring have made the Hearing Association one of the first ports of call for wax removal.
- Lidia Dabrowska, whose experience and help were instrumental in helping the committee to establish the ear nurse service.
- Over the years we have awarded six people life membership: Ted Watson, Connie Garret, Zita Evans, Olive Snow, Pamela Cuthbert, and Allan Young.
~ Edited from a talk given by Robyn Bridge in late 2020.