Media Release: New Zealand Speech-language Therapy Awareness Week of Connection 2021

Week of Connection September 27 – October 3 2021

This year’s theme for NZSTA Awareness week 2021 is Rangatiratanga, which is one of our core values.  Rangatiratanga is associated with sovereignty, leadership, autonomy to make decisions, and self-determination.  The word Rangatiratanga was used in article 2 in Te Tiriti o Waitangi to ensure Māori maintained control over their whenua/lands, culture, and taonga/treasures.

What does that mean for speech language therapists?  Rangatiratanga captures people’s right to participate in decisions about their health, education and well-being.  It’s leading their own journey. Maqymseahe ‘s story highlights the assumptions that can occur for people with a range of disabilities, but especially when communication disability can mask a person’s competence.

Maqymseahe is a 28 year woman who lives with cerebral palsy. Maqymseahe uses an AAC device to communicate and to type documents, access the internet and much more. Through her life, she has asserted her independence and autonomy over her own life, she changed her name by deed poll despite her family not supporting the idea. She has a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Business Studies. She loves sailing, skiing and going to the gym….but she was unable to open a bank account

Speech and language therapists are qualified health practitioners who support people with communication and swallowing needs. They are uniquely trained and qualified to:

  • Undertake in depth assessment of an individual’s current, and likely future, ability to communicate, including their ability to understand, express themselves, retain and  recall information, and reason (weigh up different options)
  • Contribute to multidisciplinary capacity assessments of people with communication needs
  • Support people with communication needs to demonstrate their decision-making capacity
  • Support people to express their preferences and wishes in relation to any decision made on  their behalf  regardless of whether they are deemed to have capacity.
  • Advise and train people on the best means by which someone with a communication disability might overcome their disability so they can make and communicate informed  decisions about their treatment and care
  • Support people to understand how to communicate with individuals who have been found to lack decision-making capacity
  • In New Zealand, speech-language therapists can be appointed as Communication Assistants in the court, which ensures that communication adjustments are made to enable people to participate fairly in the court process. For more on this role, see the Court Appointed Communication Assistant Guideline


Media Contact

For further information contact Annette Rotherham

m: 027 525 2170 e:


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About New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association (NZSTA)

The New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association is the national professional body of Speech-language Therapists in New Zealand.

We are the association for our members. We are over 900 Speech-language Therapists. We are committed to giving all New Zealanders their life essentials – effective communication and safe swallowing. With these life essentials comes well-being.

Each year, NZSTA’s Awareness Week has two main goals:

  • Increasing public awareness of the speech-language therapy profession; and
  • Promoting actions and advocacy that empower people who live with communication and swallowing difficulties to live their lives in the way that they want to.



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