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Blind student: two in five disabled Kiwis can’t get jobs

Mar 22nd, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, News

DISABLED PLEA: David Piper flanked by colleagues Nita Blake-Persen and Zac Kerr.

WHAT’S being done about disabled Kiwis whose unemployment rate is 40%, a blind radio journalism student asked at his graduation today.

David Piper – who graduated with a Whitireia Diploma in Radio Journalism at a ceremony at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua today – was full of good wishes for students who have found jobs.

But he reminded the audience of 800 students, family and friends – and Education Minister Hekia Parata – that while abled New Zealanders have an unemployment rate of 6.3%, two out of five of those like him can’t get a job.

Chosen to speak on behalf of the 270 graduates, Mr Piper (46), who has been blind for six years, issued a challenge to employers to examine their approach to hiring.

He is a voluntary worker who produces a political show for the country’s top iwi radio station, Te Upoko O Te Ika in Wellington, whose manager, Wena Tait, says his work there has had a profound effect on the newsroom culture.

Mr Piper told the audience today his dream is to host his own radio programme and interview the news leaders of the day.

A letter he wrote to the editor of the Dominion Post supporting deaf MP Mojo Mathers was published in the lead slot on the newspaper’s opinion page.

Mr Piper was joined at the ceremony today by fellow graduands Nita Blake-Persen (now NewstalkZB) and Zac Kerr (RadioLive). The one-year course graduated 10 students after its first delivery in 2011.

Mr Piper paid tribute to tutor Ana Tapiata, learning support co-ordinator Clare Hazledine and Arts Faculty Dean Kaye Jujnovich, without whose understanding he would never have been able to succeed, he said.

VIDEO of David Piper’s graduation speech:

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