'We Are One'

Student pulls musical talent to give a voice to autism


Kane Chong is a pretty average Kiwi kid with a keen interest in music, a childhood friend who has autism, and an impressive vision to change the way people in our community think about ASD (autism spectrum disorders).

“I’ve written an original song about autism and enlisted the help of my peers that study music at ACG College with me and created a project that’s gathering momentum."

“Now I’m working on a musical mentoring partnership with Mike Chunn from the Play it Strange Trust to perfect and record this song with a famous New Zealand artist and get it out there to raise awareness and say it’s okay to talk about autism openly,” says Chong.

Did we say impressive?

Chunn, formerly of Split Enz and Citizen Band fame, says that he was blown away by Kane’s pitch.

“This self-assured kid walks in, unfazed, and presents me with a case for support for what is essentially his school project.  I was really taken by his passion and his enthusiasm for recording and promoting ‘We Are One’, so I’ve pulled some strings and we’re doing it,” says Chunn.

The song will be recorded and mixed at Neil Finn’s studio in Auckland in August, with Kane assisting Eddie Rayner, best known as the keyboard player in Split Enz, as rookie sound engineer, Kane’s dream job.  

Chong adds: “I believe like all musicians that music is powerful and the healer to a lot of the world’s problems.”

Details on who the lead vocalist will be are being kept tightly under wraps, but around 30 of Kane’s ACG Parnell College music course classmates will be giving ‘Band-Aid’ a run for its money on backing tracks, vocals and chorus.

Dane Dougan, CEO of Autism New Zealand which is the chosen charity for any funds raised over the course of the project, is very excited.

“I think this song will definitely help us to broaden general understanding of autism – it’s just what’s needed to make ASD more relatable and provide more ‘talkability’.  People seem to have limited experience and understanding of autism, and often perceive the child as being just ‘naughty’.  That’s something that needs to change,” says Dougan.

Kane has been invited to launch the song at the Autism New Zealand Awards Dinner, a formal event at the Autism New Zealand 2016 Conference in Wellington . Kane will play acoustic guitar with Mike Chunn on ukulele (to accompany the mystery vocalist) at the event aimed at people on the autism spectrum, families/whanau, medical professionals, educationalists and others in the autism community.

Dougan says that one in three Kiwi classrooms contains a child with autism and that figure is growing.   “ASD is the fastest growing developmental impairment in New Zealand, but it is also the most underfunded.  It affects 77,500 New Zealanders – one in 58 people – equivalent to the entire Otago region. It has no known cause, and no known cure."

For more information, contact:

Nikki Wright, Managing Director, Wright Communications

Phone: 09 366 2450 or 021 662 372
Email: nikki@wrightcommunications.co.nz