Last year we ran two competitions to celebrate Braille Literacy Day on 7 September.
We asked Primary and Intermediate aged students to make up a name for the New Zealand Braille Literacy Kiwi Mascot and collage an A4 picture of it. We were very pleased to receive a number of imaginative collage pictures. We chose the name Pokey for the Kiwi Mascot, which was suggested by one of the braille students.
In a separate competition, we invited individuals or groups of Secondary School or BLENNZ Transition students to write a jingle for the BANZAT literacy competition using one or more of the following themes: Braille, Literacy, Conservation or Kiwi.
Prizes came from the BANZAT Special Fund donated by The St Anne’s Trust for the North Shore Sight Impaired for braille reading competitions for children.
We were delighted to award the prize for the winning jingle to Renee Patete of Wellington. Renee wrote both the lyrics and composed the music, using the Braille Music Editor software to submit her printed score. Renee was taught to use the Braille Music Editor by the internationally known blind music teacher the late Lisette Wesseling.
The first part of the jingle I composed was the slogan “Kiwis who Read Shall Lead” and its accompanying melody, which I created to emphasise the importance of literacy to not only braille readers, but all Kiwis. Equality for all New Zealanders remained the inspiration for all the other lyrics, which emphasise the vitality of braille and how it offers us equal opportunities.
Musically, I aimed to make the song as catchy yet original as possible. The introduction uses the first six notes of the scale in different combinations, which I created from the concept of braille’s six dots. The chord progression was deliberately varied, as was the melody, to show the diverse ways in which we can use braille. Written using braille music, this jingle was written to inspire the reading of braille, but also to spread awareness of braille’s potential for equal participation by the blind in our country.
Part of the prize was the chance for Renee to record her jingle in a professional studio. Ese Aumalesulu, a well-known South Auckland blind musician, provided his studio and recording guidance, and blind musician Stephen Bennett of Hamilton played the keyboard accompaniment.
Lyrics for Kiwis Who Read Shall Lead
- Braille is for all to read and write,
- And Kiwis do everything in sight.
- Braille lets us read whether or not we can see,
- And so it sets us Kiwis free,
- For Kiwis who read, shall lead!
- If you say braille is going to die,
- We know you’re telling us a lie,
- For us Kiwis know that it goes on living,
- Braille is a gift that just keeps on giving!
- Six braille dots,
- That is all we will need,
- Then Kiwis who read shall lead!
- Kiwis who read shall lead