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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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painting of rabbit and cat showing way to vera haywood

Rōpu - Groups

Ko te koi o Māui hauā, te kaha o Māui hautipua

The intellect of Maui the less abled, is the strength of Maui the legendary

"Although the infamous Māui was smaller and less abled than his brothers he was able to accomplish legendary feats by approaching them in his own way"

Music Groups: Kiwi Kids and Musical Friends

Bubbles and Music

Kiwi Kids runs during school terms and is taken by our Speech-language Therapists in conjunction with our Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. The aim of the group is to help tamariki learn through repetition with music and props like shakers, poi, rākau, drumsticks and scarves. This also helps to develop body awareness and imitation of both sounds and actions. It is also a way to meet other tamariki and whānau accessing our service. Access to the group is via referral from one of the therapists as we try to match children at a similar skill level in the groups.

Musical Friends is a run on a as needed basis for non-mobile tamariki. For more information, see our pamphlet:

For some songs ideas that you can do with your tamariki at home, see the link below. These are some of our Vera Hayward Centre favourites!

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Hydrotherapy/Vera Hayward Centre Swimming Group

The Swimming Group meets at the Otago Therapeutic Trust Pool on Friday mornings during school term time and is open to tamariki who attend the Vera Hayward Centre or are on the NICU follow up programme. It is led by a Physiotherapist and a volunteer. We work on supporting your therapy goals and teaching your tamaiti early swimming skills using action songs and fun water activities! To join us, ask your therapist to make a referral.

These groups are offered at various times.


Exercise Group

The Physiotherapy team at the Vera Hayward Centre run a virtual exercise class each week for school aged-tamariki. The goal of this group is to help children improve coordination, balance, strength and core stability. We ask that each child is accompanied by a parent as we often provide ideas and strategies to practice at home. Some exercises include:

  • Ball skills
  • Single leg balance
  • Dynamic movements crossing left and right sides of the body
  • Core strength
  • Agility and gait training
  • Lower body strength

Some tamariki who find this group helpful struggle with dyspraxia, hemiplegia or low muscle tone. This group runs during the school term.

Playing with Friends

Playing with Friends VHC

The Speech-language therapy team at the Vera Hayward centre sometimes run a group we call ‘Playing with Friends’. The goal of the group is to help develop social skills, through play and fun, and to give parents ideas for things to do at home to help their children develop these skills. Types of skills targeted will be:

  • Using people’s names
  • Taking turns
  • Listening skills
  • Waiting
  • Listening to and interacting with a story
  • Using social language
  • Making choices
  • Identifying emotions in other people, as well as understanding and using vocabulary to describe emotions

The focus of each group depends on who we have attending and what their whānau’s specific goals are for their tamaitI. The group is held either weekly or fortnightly, on a term by term basis, and each group lasts for about 90 minutes. The first hour is made up of facilitated semi-structured activities. This is then followed by having morning tea together, which provides another opportunity to work on using social skills in a different setting.

Tamariki can be referred if they are eligible to access the Ratoka Whakawhanke Tamaiti (Child Development Service) and are needing support for their social communication skills. When planning for our groups, we try to build session themes around your tamaiti's favourite things to make the groups as fun and engaging as possible.