Story: Disability and disability organisations

Page 5. Disabled peoples organisations

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Disabled peoples organisations are organised for and by disabled people.

Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA)

Formed in 1983, DPA is an umbrella organisation representing disabled people. In the 2010s it advocated on behalf of its 300 organisational and 1,200 individual members, and offered them advice. Most members on the national executive were disabled.

DPA has led negotiations on disability issues with government. It influenced the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Repeal Act 2007 – which abolished sheltered employment and gave people with disabilities the same employment conditions, rights and entitlements as other workers.

Gaining representation

A central aim of ABC was the promotion of blind people into Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind management, long dominated by sighted people. An acrimonious debate between management and reformers in 1978 led to a protest march along Auckland’s Queen Street and strident calls for the government to intervene. In 1980 the government appointed Don McKenzie and Michael Turner as blind representatives to the foundation’s board.

Ngāti Kāpo o Aotearoa

This Māori health and disability organisation for Māori disabled (kāpo Māori) was founded in 1983. In the 2010s it had over 15 regional Ngāti Kāpo rōpu (groups) and provided support ‘by kāpo Māori and their whānau for kāpo Māori and their whānau.’1 Ngāti Kāpu activities include peer support, policy advice, advocacy, public awareness, workforce development, research and training.

Blind Citizens New Zealand

Blind Citizens NZ was founded in 1945 (as the Dominion Association of the Blind) to advance the interests of blind people. Only blind people could be members. In contrast to the 1950s paternalism of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, Blind Citizens NZ was about ‘blind people speaking for ourselves’.2 Its achievements have included:

  • the 1958 abolition of the means test for blind people applying for the invalid’s benefit
  • beginning talking-book services, radio for the blind, and magazine taping
  • training members to use speech and Braille programmes on computers.

Aotearoa Network of Psychiatric Survivors

This network was created in 1990 to support users of mental health services and improve the mental health system. It lobbied for deinstitutionalisation of care and community-based housing for former patients. Changes in government funding in the early 1990s led to its decentralisation into four regional networks.

Free as a butterfly

In 2009 the Deaf Association of New Zealand changed its name to Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand and adopted a new logo incorporating a butterfly. Butterflies are seen as free, independent and liberated – as the association believes deaf people are when they have sign language.

Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ)

Formed in 1977, DANZ promotes deaf culture, New Zealand Sign Language and the interests of deaf people. It withdrew from the National Foundation for the Deaf in 1998 because it did not believe the foundation was adequately representing deaf interests or identity. DANZ’s governing body is elected from the deaf community by deaf people.

People First

People First (PF) is the self-advocacy organisation of people with learning disabilities. Originally the organisation was under the wing of IHC, but in 2003 PF declared its independence and established a separate office. IHC was still heavily involved in supporting a national network of PF groups, but these were controlled by PF, not IHC.

Footnotes:
  1. ‘About us – Mo Matou Ra.’ Ngāti Kāpo o Aotearoa, (last accessed 26 May 2010). Back
  2. ‘About Blind Citizens NZ.’ Blind Citizens New Zealand, (last accessed 12 July 2018). Back
How to cite this page:

Martin Sullivan, 'Disability and disability organisations - Disabled peoples organisations', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/disability-and-disability-organisations/page-5 (accessed 13 November 2019)

Story by Martin Sullivan, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 12 Jul 2018