New Zealand Disability Strategy Revision Reference group

The Reference Group will provide input into the process for revising the New Zealand Disability Strategy, as well as helping to guide the development of content. The revision will take place over 2016.


The New Zealand Disability Strategy is being revised over 2016. A Reference Group will provide advice on the revision process and on the content of the revised strategy. The New Zealand Disability Strategy is being revised in 2016 to ensure that it remains current, is consistent with, and supports the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The revision will involve disabled people, their families, the disability sector and others to develop a new vision for what we want New Zealand to look like in ten years’ time.

The following 14 people are members of the Reference Group:

Colleen Brown, MNZM, from Auckland, has an adult son with an intellectual disability. Colleen has been an advocate for parents for 35 years involved in setting up a number of parent groups both in the Auckland region and nationally. She has a teaching background in both the secondary and tertiary sectors. Colleen has contributed to several texts on disability from a family and advocacy perspective. She chairs Disability Connect – a regional parent organisation in Auckland and is a member of several disability advisory groups. She is a fourth term elected member of the Counties-Manukau District Health Board, chairing the DiSAC committee. Previously she was a Manukau City Councillor.  Colleen brings a families perspective.

Robbie Francis, from Hamilton, has worked in the disability sector as a support worker, researcher for Attitude Pictures and an intern for Disability Rights International (Mexico). Robbie has experience working with disabled children in France, Bangladesh, India and Mexico. She has also spearheaded research on disability rights and is the cofounder and director of a social enterprise focused on the training and employment of disabled people. She is a PhD candidate researching the experiences of disabled people during war. Robbie also brings the perspectives of younger people and lived experience of disability.

Lance Girling-Butcher, QSM, from New Plymouth, is one of two Disabled People's Organisations representatives on the Reference group. A former New Plymouth District Councillor, Lance is a member of a number of trusts and committees working for the disabled and senior citizens. He is chairman of New Plymouth Positive Ageing, and also serves on the Kāpo Māori Board, the Disability Information Centre Trust, the Council Disability Working Party, the Blind Foundation Taranaki Committee, and several Taranaki Health Board committees. Lance is blind.

Peggy Koopman-Boyden, CNZM, from Hamilton, was until recently Professor of Social Gerontology at the National Institute of Demography and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), The University of Waikato. She has undertaken research and advised government and local bodies on older people and ageing for over four decades. She has been involved with research on Active Ageing; Chair of AgeWISE an advisory group to the Waikato District Health Board; Chair of the Hamilton City Council’s Older Person’s Advisory Panel; and a Life Member of Age Concern. Peggy now brings the perspective of an older person herself.

Clive Lansink, from Auckland, is one of two Disabled People's Organisations representatives on the Reference Group. Clive is National President of Blind Citizens New Zealand, after holding various national roles within the organisation for more than thirty years. Being blind himself, Clive is strongly committed to the principle of disabled people speaking for themselves and being directly involved in the decisions that impact on their lives. He first qualified with a degree in electrical engineering, and spent much of his career as a software engineer and IT manager. More recently he completed a degree in law and is now keenly interested in human rights. As technology becomes ever more dominant in everyday life, he advocates for a society that upholds the principles of accessibility and universal design.

Victoria Manning, MNZM, from Wellington, is the Communications & Strategy Manager at Deaf Aotearoa. She is also the inaugural chair of the New Zealand Sign Language Board. Victoria represented seven DPOs during the United Nations first examination of New Zealand’s progress under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She has held senior policy roles including leading engagement between government and the disability sector, with the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ, Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Social Development and the Office for Disability issues. Victoria is Deaf.

David Matthews, from Wellington and Christchurch, brings experience and expertise from his many years working in education (schools, Department of Education, Specialist Education Services SES) and the disability sector (CCS Disability Action - 16 years, recently as Chief Executive). He has assisted organisations, individuals and groups within them to cope with periods of rapid change with the refocus service direction. David brings a service provider perspective.

Papaalii Seiuli Johnny Siaosi, from Auckland, works as a Consumer Advisor, Matua and trainer at the Waitemata District Health Board. He has been committed to supporting people who experience mental illness and their families to recover well. Over the past 10 years, he has provided a consumer perspective to the planning, delivery and evaluation of mental health and addiction services. He has also advocated for consumers at a national level to ensure Pasefika peoples with lived experience of mental unwellness receive a high standard of clinical and cultural care in both Pasefika and non-Pasefika services. Johnny brings to the Reference Group a 5C: Consumer, Community, Clinical, Cultural and Corporate approach perspective from mental health and addictions consumers, their families and Pasefika communities.  

Dr Martin Sullivan, QSO, from Palmerston North, is as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Work at Massey University. His specialist area of teaching is Disability Studies and Social Policy at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has written extensively on issues that affect disabled people. Martin also brings his perspective as a person with lived experience of disability.

Hamish Taverner, from Palmerston North, is a long term member of People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi. He is the Central Region President and has recently completed a term as the National Chairperson. Hamish has represented People First on a number of government advisory groups where he speaks up for the rights of people with a learning disability. Hamish is on the Board of NZASID, undertakes service evaluations for Standards and Monitoring Services, is a member of the IHC Rangitikei Association, is a Global Messenger for Special Olympics NZ, and works part-time as an assistant in his Aunt’s business. Hamish also brings the perspective of a person with lived experience of disability.

Jonathan (Jonny) Wilkinson, from Whangarei, is the CEO for Tiaho Trust Disability Information and Advisory Service based in Tai Tokerau, an organisation which he founded. He is also Deputy Chair of the Disability Advisory Group for Whangarei District Council, Trustee for Northland Sailability and Chairman for Achieve2B Trust. Jonny also brings the perspective of a person with lived experience of disability

Gary Williams, MNZM, from Christchurch, is self-employed as a consultant who has extensive experience gained over many years working on projects to enhance the lives of disabled people. He was the CEO of the pan-disability Disabled People’s Assembly between 1999 and 2009, and was a member of the 2000 Paralympics NZ team. His is a director or trustee of Standards & Monitoring Services, Access Ability Charitable Trust, Nga Hau e Wha National Marae, Barrier Free NZ Trust, Manawanui In Charge, Funding Advisory & Support Services, Imagine Better Ltd. Gary has also been involved as well as a member of Enabling Good Lives, Disability Support Services Framework Redesign Group, Earthquake Disability Leadership Group, and Community Law Canterbury.  Gary also brings the perspectives of a disabled person and Māori.

 In addition, the Reference Group includes:

  • two representatives from government agencies (Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education)
  • Director, Office for Disability Issues.

More information

Meeting summary

You can read a summary of discussion at the Reference Group meetings.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the Reference Group was agreed at its first meeting on 9 February 2016.