Listen to this page with proReader


Since its establishment in November 2006, the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand has run a number of highly successful awareness and action weeks. Each has focused on building public profile at a national level, and has represented a significant step forward in the evolution from recognition to understanding to meaningful action. This journey, starting with the most recent activities, is charted below.





Dyslexia Advocacy Week 2014 was all about making clear the legal rights that dyslexic students’ have in the classroom, and equipping parents to advocate for these rights to be met with appropriate teaching. If a child has a learning difference, a school has a legislative obligation to notice and adjust the classroom teaching to accommodate this. These types of accommodations commonly include things such as reader or writer assistance, computer use, and/or extra time.


The 2014 DAW webspace set out critical information for parents to aid the advocacy process, with new resources developed to provide parents with explicit knowledge about their child’s rights and how these can be accommodated in the classroom. And to highlight simple, practical steps for teachers and schools to make this happen. DFNZ also did a send-out to every NZ school and principal which delivered free resources in support of this. As a lead in to the week, TV3 screened the acclaimed dyslexia documentary – The Big Picture; Rethinking Dyslexia – on the Sunday before DAW commenced.



In 2009, Dyslexia Awareness Week focused on action-oriented activities to champion change for dyslexic individuals, and on providing information, tools and resources to inspire others to do the same. The theme for the week – Actions Speak Louder than Words – reflected this, encouraging schools, teachers, support staff, parents and dyslexic individuals to act decisively and make a difference.

A huge range of local projects put into place to complement national activity. Media engagement was also extensive, with a selection of this available here.


Action Week was launched with a bespoke song written by acclaimed Kiwi musician Don McGlashan, performed by roots/rock band dDub and produced by Sean Donnelly, aka SJD. Called ‘The Closer You Get, The Bigger I Look’, the song remains available for free public download here.

DFNZ also brought international dyslexia expert Neil Mackay to New Zealand to host a sold-out nationwide series of workshops for teachers and parents.

Web-based resources were also created to support key Action Week initiatives.

The success of the week was underpinned by publication of a feature article in North and South magazine, titled ‘’The Dyslexia Difference”, and representing arguably the most comprehensive media analysis of issues and solutions for dyslexia ever published in New Zealand. This eight-page article was supported by comment from DFNZ Chair of Trustees Guy Pope-Mayell and from Neil Mackay.


Other Action Week resources included a brand new DFNZ brochure – click here to download – and an Action Newsletter for schools – click here to download.




The focus of Dyslexia Awareness Week 2008 was promoting greater understanding and acceptance of dyslexia as an alternative way of thinking. The official theme of the week – Blessing in Disguise – referred to the creative gifts that dyslexia can bring, as well as the challenges and the coping strategies that are the disguise.

Dyslexia is often found in the creative professions – from artists and musicians to actors, chefs, and even iconic leaders – and a world without dyslexia would be a much less colourful and diverse place. A number of New Zealand celebrities helped the Dyslexia Foundation deliver this message during the week, including photographer Geoff Blackwell, motivational speaker Billy Braham, “The Mad Butcher” Peter Leitch, Weta Workshop founder Richard Taylor, Hair Stylist Mike Hamel and former international model and dyslexia tutor Kirsteen Britton. 


In April 2007, after much hard work by the Dyslexia Foundation and others, the New Zealand Government finally recognised dyslexia for the first time. Government recognition was the critical first step in the journey to creating meaningful change, providing certainty and validation to dyslexic individuals and their supporters.

Immediately following Government-level recognition, DFNZ’s first Dyslexia Awareness Week focused on ensuring that dyslexia was recognised and acknowledged at a community level.

The major event of the week was the opening of the Dyslexia Discovery exhibit in Christchurch; an outdoor gallery experience showcasing the artistic, engineering, creative and business achievements of four gifted individuals – Weta Workshop founder Richard Taylor; maverick motorcycle engineer, the late John Britten; Davis Dyslexia founder Ronald Davis and British artist Mackenzie Thorpe. A limited edition Cookie Time cookie was also on sale during the week to raise funds for DFNZ’s ongoing activities.


©Copyright Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand. All rights reserved.
Content may be reproduced with permission of DFNZ, contact