Hearing Dogs at Home in Taranaki

Taranaki has become the leader of the pack for New Zealand’s furriest little listeners.

For the first time the not-for-profit organisation Hearing Dogs NZ is now entirely managed and governed in Taranaki.    

The trust was established in 1998 and in 2000 the National Training Centre opened in New Plymouth. However, in the past the charitable trust has been partly managed and governed from Auckland, and partly from Taranaki.

This week General Manager Clare McLaughlin announced from 2019 onwards Hearing Dogs NZ is entirely operated and governed in Taranaki.


General Manager Clare McLaughlin and Ruby celebrate the news.

“We are delighted to say the whole trust has been returned to New Plymouth, the Auckland office is closed, and all management, administration, training, and governance is now officially based in New Plymouth,” McLaughlin says.

“Taranaki is a very caring community and having everything centralised, especially when you are such a small charity, will be a huge benefit in terms of open communication and support for everyone concerned.”

Moving all parts of Hearing Dogs NZ home to Taranaki provides a sense of security and continuity for the recipients of the dogs, and allows for an excellent relationship with a locally based Board of Trustees.

“We also have many volunteers here in New Plymouth who have been providing us with immeasurable support for the past 20 years,” McLaughlin says.

“Not to mention our lasting long term staff and talented supporters. We all now have confidence in the future of Hearing Dogs NZ continuing to maintain its professional service to the deaf and hearing impaired throughout New Zealand.”

Over the years 127 hearing dogs have been successfully trained at the centre, at the cost of about $30,000 each. They are trained to gently paw their humans when they hear sounds the human needs to be aware of – such as fire alarms, a doorbell, the alarm clock, the baby monitor, or a cooking timer.

McLaughlin says the challenge going forward will be to continually secure the funding needed to run the trust – which is about $300,000 each year.

“Currently that money is coming from donations and grant funding through philanthropic trusts.  We receive no government funding,” she says.

As well as being entirely managed and operated in Taranaki, the trust is now entirely governed in the region, with the new trustees being Brian Busing, Catherine Quin, Chris Haunton, Deb Tawa and Rob Mills.

Chairman of the board Brian Busing says the trustees are focusing on supporting and guiding the organisation in a steady and responsible manner.

“The trust’s only income is by bequests and donations. We get monthly donations from people who appreciate the benefit and joy of the dogs, and many other charities give us a share of their income.”

“The main goal the new trustees have set for the manager is to operate within the limits of the annual income. Any bequest received is to be spread over multiple years, so in this way there is no boom and bust cycle.”

Busing says if the trust was able to increase its income in the future then it may be possible to increase the number of dogs being trained, as well as the number of trainers.

  • Any organisations or individuals wanting to help the trust can contact Clare on clare@hearingdogs.org.nz, or phone the office on (06) 769 5000

PHOTO: Hearing Dogs Ruby and Ashby CREDIT: Antill Photography