Deaf get purpose-built Wharenui unit

18:39, Mar 19 2013
SPECIAL UNIT: Pupil Noelani Ritchie works with teacher Fiona Gordon at Wharenui School’s new purpose-built van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

Deaf and hearing-impaired children are benefiting from a new purpose-built facility at a Christchurch primary school.

The Ministry of Education has spent $526,320 on the van Asch Deaf Education Centre satellite unit at Wharenui School, which opened yesterday.

The two-classroom building, specially designed for children who are deaf or hearing impaired, has special acoustics, sound systems and lighting.

Van Asch Deaf Education Centre assistant principal James Townshend said the satellite unit was set up after the February 2011 earthquake as an interim arrangement because its Sumner base had been temporarily closed.

The unit had worked so well, it had become a permanent fixture at Wharenui, but up until this year had been operating out of temporary facilities.

The unit was based in a classroom, but roll growth at the school meant it had to shift into a meeting room.


Eight primary school-aged children attend the unit and the building can cater for up to 14 pupils.

The new building is in the middle of the school so children from both schools can interact.

Parent Annette Stocker said her daughter, Aimee, 9, was thriving in the new environment.

The Press