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Candidate Statements

You may vote for two candidates. All students have received a paper copy of the voting paper, however, if this has been misplaced you can download and print off the student representative voting paper below. For information on returning once filled out see how to return your voting paper.

Student representative voting paper

Anahera Strongman

Tena kotou I am Anahera Hemepo Strongman, I am deaf I wear hearing aids. I go to Hillmorton high school in Christchurch I am a student for Ko Taku Reo. I am a year 12 - and 16-years old love doing schoolwork. I have achieved most of my subjects therefore I love learning. I love helping people around me because I care about my friends and get along with them well. I have three languages are Te Reo Māori, Sign language and English. I want to be a board of trustees because I appreciate what I learn from others. I love helping the community to do the right things in a positive way for our culture. I encourage people to do the right thing It makes me happy when I see smiles on people’s faces. Its show we have ideas to plan ahead for our year and upcoming events. Being a board member is a good thing because we can share information to our principal only and we get information has to be important it’s just like being a Council. And it’s a good way to connect with our principal.

Georgia Abraham

Kia ora koutou. My name is Georgia and I am 13 years old. My parents noticed I had challenges with my hearing when I was 3 years old. I have a slight hearing loss in my right ear, I suffer from tinnitus and I also have hypersensitivity. However, I do not let these challenges hinder me and I have found ways to manage my hearing. I am in Year 9 and attend Iona College as a weekly boarder. I would love this opportunity and feel it would benefit myself and others.

I can understand/keep track of what's happening at the meetings. I have a big enough attention span to keep track and fully involve myself in the meetings.
I can talk about my experiences and help support people going through the same thing. My experiences about my hearing could help aid others that might have the same or similar situations. An example is how I can help my younger cousins that have minor hearing problems.
I have enough courage to represent deaf students throughout NZ. Another example would be how I had the courage to speak in a speech competition and ended up winning 3 years in a row.
I can pay attention and talk about mine and others concerns during the meetings. I can confidently talk about my concerns or questions. I can represent others talking about theirs too.
I can relate with people and can ask questions from a student's perspective. An example of this would be that I was a school counselor during my Year 7 & 8.

I'm not afraid to speak up about mine or anyones concerns. I don't get nervous or scared to speak up in conversations. I can clearly talk and ask questions to and from the board.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to apply to be a Student Representative and thank you for all the support you provide through Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education.
From Georgia Abraham

Liam Leppard

To whom it may concern,

My name is Liam Leppard I am 14 years old boy. I live in Te Awamutu, Waikato with my Mum and Dad, sister and two dogs. I am a Year 10 but next year I am gonna start on NCEA. My interests are Video games, Sports and travelling.

I am looking forward to applying for this position to be part of the Board of Trustees. The reasons why I would like to apply for this position are:

  • I am a good role model. For example, at KIT days I have supported younger Deaf students.
  • I am very mature. For example, I help to support my family and cook meals for my family.
  • I am a good team player. I have played lacrosse and supported my team to win two titles.
  • I am a future leader - In the last three years, I have led my sports team to the top 3 finishes at the WAIBOP sports KIT days.
  • I have good ideas for the future of the schools and the Deaf community such as having more chances to meet other Deaf kids.
  • I am a confident speaker and willing to share my ideas.
  • Lately, I have been expressing my Deaf culture to my peers. For example, My RTD Sarah Neal and I have started teaching my Social Studies class New Zealand Sign Language. I am becoming more interested in NZSL.

Thank you for considering my application.

Lukas Gill

Dear Students of Ko Toku Reo,

I, Lukas Westergaard Gill would like to continue being one of the student voices of the Ko Toku Reo Board of Trustees. I am running for my second term as a Student Trustee, I feel that over the past year as your voice I have gained invaluable experience in the running of this organization. Through this, I have also gained valuable skills in resourcefulness and leadership. I think that because of all this, I would be a valuable person to represent you on the board moving forward.

A bit about myself, I am a year 11 enrolled at Western Springs College, Auckland. I'm 16 years old and have lived in England, Denmark, and Auckland since late 2011. On top of a High-Frequency Hearing Loss, I have a physical disability Cerebral Palsy, which challenges me daily but has not stopped me from achieving to the best of my ability.

School-wise, I have always worked hard and excelled throughout primary, intermediate, and now high school. I have been getting top marks in all my subjects throughout school, but especially excelling in mathematics and science. I am a very focused and hardworking student, which is reflected in my reports and grades. Striving to improve in one of my great qualities, always improve my skills and marks. An example of this is, due to my added responsibilities, I have improved my communication and social skills.

I feel very fortunate to be with Ko Tuko Reo since year 1 in 2012. To me, the many Resource Teachers I have had, have supported me, and with the addition of them, I have come out on top in school. I have faced challenges caused by my hearing loss in a public school, my RTDs have supported me, so I understand what hard of hearing students face when in class.

I feel that I am more than qualified for representing you due to my past experiences. On top of being a trustee for KTR, I am on the Student Council for Western Springs College, an ambassador for Cure Kids and have worked at La Cigale French Market for The Garden for the People since 2018.

I think I am an excellent candidate for student trustee on the board, because of my hard work, dedication and invaluable experience. I would like to continue representing your interests on the board.

Kind Regards,

Lukas Gill

Thomas McLiskey

Hello everyone, I would like to introduce myself; My name is Thomas McLiskey I am from Invercargill but I attend school in Christchurch. I am based at Hagley College, in the Ko Taku Reo Provision. I want to be a representative for the Board of Trustees because I want to show who I am as a person and what I am capable of as a leader. I would be keen to bring up some new ideas to the Board of Trustees. It is always important to show compassion and initiative and to encourage others to have a voice. If we show our perspective, we may be able to make our education better. Also, I would like to represent our students nationally, as I have had experience with outreach and enrolled in school with Ko Taku Reo. I am also a residential student. I would need to find a way of contacting all students, but I know that I could do this.

The reason I would like to be in this position is to build confidence and practice my leadership skills. I am very passionate about students having a better understanding of life skills and confidence before leaving school. I am responsible, trustworthy, and reliable, which I feel are important in this role. My biggest attributes are that I have initiative and the ability to support everyone.

I would like everyone to have their dignity and develop the initiative to show that you can succeed in life by believing in yourself and paying it forward.

I want to be the representative because I could show that everyone can be who they want to be, and I think I would be good at it.

Thank you!

Thomas McLiskey

Nicola Gaskin

Nicola's video of script below

Hi, my name is Nicola Gaskin, I am 19 years old, and I live in Auckland.

I would like to become a student trustee because of my past experiences with Ko Taku Reo and also attending Kelston Girls College Deaf Unit for the past 2.5 years.

I would like to see some changes as I feel like there could be some improvement, especially within all deaf provisions.

My focus will be the students' wellbeing and being treated as individuals.

How could I make changes for the students?
If I become a student trustee my goal is to ask all the students if there are any issues or any changes they want to see, as their voices are important to all of us in Ko Taku Reo.

I am ready to be there and listen to whatever Ko Taku Reo students have to say.

I want to ensure that the students have a good experience and make sure they are happy and have a great head start for their future.

It is important that they use their voices to report back with improvements that they want to see in this school year.

If a student has an issue with teachers, my goal is to listen to what they have to say and point them in the right direction. If they wanted me to raise any questions or issues to the board, I would have to ensure they went through a proper procedure first.

I am keen to know what students think about Ko Taku Reo.

Nicola Gaskin

Luca May

Kia Ora, Hola, Talofa, Bonjour, Nǐ hǎo, Namaste, Konnichiwa, Ciao, Hello,

My name is Luca May. I am 14 years old, and I am honoured to even be given the opportunity to apply for this position, on the Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education board student representative.

I have always been interested in how we communicate. I can speak some Spanish, some Te Reo and am fluent in New Zealand Sign Language and English as I grew up in a bilingual environment. I am currently a year ten student at Cashmere High School. Culture and language are two very important foundations, both for Aotearoa and for me. Growing up, my parents weren’t sure if I was deaf or not, but that changed in 2018 when I was finally diagnosed as hearing impaired. After that I explored the diversity of the hearing and the deaf way of life. I was shocked to find that we are very similar but our needs are different. Predominantly, different in the tools needed for our education.

In recent years, both education and the tools used to educate have changed. But what about the tools and role models the deaf community needs? Only very recently deaf education has finally had its say, but are we loud enough? If there is any way that I could be involved in finding the extra support that we need to teach the future of New Zealand, then I would gladly be the first to put my hand up.

This is my future, this is our future and I am grateful for all those who choose to lend a hand not only out of care but also out of curiosity, willingly wanting to learn our culture, our struggles and the peaks of our success.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application and should I be successful, I promise to put my best foot forward.

Yours sincerely, Luca May

Molly Bradley

Kia ora, ko tawhiuau te maunga, ko rangitikei te awa, ko ngati manawa te iwi, ko hato petera toku kura, Ko Tony Bradley raua ko Claudine Bradley oku matua, ko Molly Bradley ahau. Hi, my name is Molly Bradley and I am a year 10 student from St Peters Cambridge. I have asymmetrical hearing loss which has affected my schoolwork. When it all first started happening in year 5&6 I was too shy to

speak up about not being able to hear. I crawled back into my shell and found it hard to socialize with a large group of people because I found it hard to hear. It was lucky because I have amazing parents who noticed something was wrong, so they pushed to have me tested and find out if something was wrong. Which was hard to start off with because I wasn't so keen to go to all of the appointments. It took months of test after test before the specialists were able to understand what was going on and provide a hearing aid at the correct levels. Once I had a hearing aid my parents and myself noticed my sleep improved, my energy levels increased and my work standard improved. My parents had meetings with my primary school teacher and Principal who were incredibly supportive. My teacher wore a little device around her neck which would connect to my hearing aid.

This is when I first realized how helpful hearing aids are. After that, I noticed how many people had some sort of hearing troubles and it was more common than I thought. That helped encourage me to wear my hearing aid because I knew others had the same difficulty. I believe my parents and teachers' support was vital to helping me regain my confidence in myself. From year 6 upwards I have had a hearing aid. Moving to a different school for intermediate was tricky with more sports, bigger gatherings and more people around. I still found it difficult to wear my hearing aid even when I had had it for almost a year. Moving to St Peter’s for secondary school was a completely different story. I found it easy to adjust and inform my teachers about my hearing and managed to figure out how to manage my hearing aid with my sport. This is how I want everyone to feel when they first get their hearing aid or moving schools. More schools should acknowledge areas where people aren't comfortable about speaking up if they are having trouble with hearing or just want to inform the teacher about their situation. Thank you for taking the time to read my statement and consider my application. Yours sincerely, Molly Bradley

Liwen Miaoyang

Kia ora, my name is Liwen Miaoyang and I am interested in becoming a student trustee for Ko Taku Reo. So who am I and what makes me a good Trustee:

I am a 15-years-old Yr10 student who attends Kelston Girls College in Waitakere. I also have a rare condition called Treacher Collins Syndrome.

I am a well-organised student, who stands up for anything that does not support who we are, students of today. I believe that it is important to work with other people to make right changes so that we are supported in being the best that we can be. Also, I believe that it’s important to listen to other people’s opinions, not just my own.

I’m certain that it is important to communicate with others to make changes and to research possibilities. An example of this is just Last year I put together a survey to investigate how students felt about starting school at a different time than mainstream school. I communicated this with our school head and it was a successful discussion.

When I was younger I found it very hard to talk to people because I was afraid and insecure about how my voice sounds but the older I got I learnt that to be heard I had to step up and I needed to spread my voice to be heard, even though it was a hard challenge I have gotten better at communications and my confidence has improved. But even though I improved I still struggle to speak sometimes.

My goal is to help students to have a more sustainable learning environment, to be able to achieve whatever they want with their knowledge and to help them have the life they want in the future.

This position will enable me to share this goal and make strong suggestions that will help create the future where we can achieve, succeed and learn. I will be able to do this by collaborating and working with all the other board members. I believe that student voice becomes student choice.

So in conclusion, with my experiences, my dreams, my achievements and my knowledge I believe that I would be the most suitable person for this position. Help me make a difference.

Ngā mihi Liwen Miaoyang

Kimberley Sabmeethavorn

Kia Ora Koutou! My name is Kimberly Sabmeethavorn and I am a year 11 student at

Napier girls high school. I was born deaf and have been wearing hearing aids since the age of 4. I have grown up in two different worlds: the hearing world and the deaf world. Growing up deaf in New Zealand has taught me that it is crucial for every single person to be heard. While clear communication is the key to facilitating connections and relationships, patience and understanding is the bridge to the deaf community.

I would like to stand as one of the Student Trustees on the Board of Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education because I believe that it is important, with the diverse opinions of the deaf community, that our voices are heard. Everyone's ideas and opinions are different, hence why through one confident voice, hundreds of ideas and views can be expressed. I would be suited for this role as I am a hardworking, motivated, friendly and open minded. I have the skills to openly communicate, comprehend others, express ideas and confidently build a safer and positive environment for the deaf students in New Zealand. I believe that the deaf community is important in New Zealand because it allows every single individual to be who they are and openly express their thoughts and opinions. Our abilities and potential are too often underestimated in society because it is assumed that we cannot communicate properly. However, they fail to acknowledge that we have adapted everyday to reading lips, sign language, understanding facial expressions and body language.

I believe that deaf education is crucial because it aids in the development of social abilities and identity to the deaf people. By attaining a safe and accessible learning environment for deaf students, they are able to reach their highest potential in education. It is important that the deaf community in New Zealand are heard, because while we struggle to hear, we are still entitled to our education and our rights. I would love the opportunity to work with the staff and elected representatives, thus by being on the board I can make a positive contribution toward the education of deaf students in New Zealand. I am passionate about seeing the future changes and benefits for all deaf people in New Zealand.

Danielle Ball

Hi, my name is Danielle Ball and I’m hearing impaired. I am nearly seventeen. Having recently relocated to Timaru from Whangarei, I am looking to represent a board at student level.

I enjoy hiking, traveling, music and playing guitar. I am currently a year 13 student and my ambition after school is to study business accounting pursuing a career in the business/finance field. This role would give me not only the ability to help others but an opportunity to experience first hand business level meetings.

I suffer a high frequency hearing loss and wear hearing aids to correct this. I think I would make a great candidate for Ko Taku Reo as a student representative as I am passionate about helping others and making positive changes. I would love this opportunity to be a voice at board level to put ideas forth and achieve positive outcomes for those suffering with hearing impairment.

Harvey Apolonio

Hello there, my name is Harvey Troy Enderes Apolonio, I am 16 years old and I am currently attending Ashburton College for my education. I would like to place myself as a candidate for the position of Student representative for Deaf Education in New Zealand. 

I believe that youths such as myself should have the chance to learn without their own hearing hindering their progress. I myself have only gotten my hearing aids very recently within the last year or so, and I have seen how much my condition has affected my hearing. As such I want to ensure that what I have experienced with hearing aids can be shared with other youths with the same problem, in regards to learning how to deal with them and the like. 

To be truthfully honest, I have no experience in positions such as these. However, I would like to try regardless and feel like this would be a great opportunity for me. And with the help I am given, I will try my best to fulfill the expectations that come with becoming the student representative.

Luca Bevin

To whom it may concern,

I would be honoured to be selected as the student rep for the deaf and hard of hearing for New Zealand. I had this role two years ago in which I thoroughly enjoyed and gained a lot of genuine experience for myself while also successfully fulfilling my role. I have lived as a kid with severe hearing impairments since I was born but I am not one to view it as a negative impact. In fact I believe that throughout my struggles it has given me a perspective and understanding of the world that very few are privileged to have. And through this understanding I believe I can benefit all the youth within New Zealand who I share similarities with. Whether it’s simply giving insight into what life is like as a teenager with hearing complications or suggesting new ways to build upon the system we already have in place for the youth who need extra support. I would fully indulge myself and give this position 110% of my effort because that is what the Deaf and HOH community deserve. I fully believe that my loss of hearing has made myself a better person as everything I have worked for required a whole extra level of effort to achieve as well as my peers. So far throughout my journey I have competed in several speech competitions (placing top three in all). Coached and captained basketball and volleyball teams, received NCEA level 1 endorsements, becoming a student rep for the Dunedin’s youth council. and now I am about to take part in a scholarship English program. When it comes to what makes me I would define myself as a confident person who is proud to be who they are despite being told otherwise from people trying to bring me down. Another key part to myself is my resilience and the desire to just keep pushing forward no matter what challenges arise. I love to make change and be the best version of myself and through being a student representative I felt like I was truly accomplishing that so as I said I would be honoured to be considered for this role. Thank you. Luca Bevin