Te Poutāhū Disability Voices Group

Te Poutāhū Disability Voices Group

Te Mātaiaho | the refreshed NZ curriculum aims to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is inclusive, clear, and easy to use. Being inclusive means incorporating the needs and views of disabled ākonga and their whānau into our work.

Front row from left to right: Tara Shepherd, Hannah Pretious, Rachael Wiltshire, Alice Mander. Second row: Josh Fuimaono, Nigel Ngāhiwi (Co-Chair), Frian Wadia (Co-Chair), Shane McInroe, Julie Hook (MoE), Joanne Dacombe, Carol Rawhiti, Rebekah Corlett, Betty Pulefolau, Parminder Kaur, Kris Dahl, Sara Demas (secretariat MoE).  Missing: Mel Wong

About the group

In November 2022, Te Poutāhū Disability Voices Group was established to provide thought leadership and expert advice on how Te Mātaiaho can help improve outcomes for disabled ākonga, deaf ākonga and their whānau. There is also the potential to expand their scope across the broader Te Poutāhū work programme, as required.

Group members were appointed following an Expression of Interest process, co-designed with members from the disability community. They represent a broad range of the disability community, including tangata whaikaha Māori, Pacific disabled people, young people, representatives from the deaf community, and their whānau.

Scope of work

The group’s lived experience and knowledge will be fed into the design, development and implementation of key curriculum initiatives. The initial scope of this mahi will include:

  • all components of the NZ Curriculum Refresh program – including content development, resource development, implementation, change, capability, and communication
  • the Literacy and Communication & Maths Strategy (including the Common Practice Model)
  • connections to the NCEA change program, Te Whāriki implementation work programme, and the redesign of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
  • related resource development and key initiatives designed through Te Pae Aronui - Learning Support.

The group meets eight times a year to consider and advise on the curriculum issues. This work is being coordinated by Te Poutāhū Strategy and Integration Chief Advisor Julie Hook, with secretariat support provided by Sara Demas.

Meet the Disability Voices Group members

Nigel Ngāhiwi

Co-Chair/ facilitator

Nigel is a Māori medium teacher, who has taught in kura and Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Otaki. He is the president of Kāpō Māori Aotearoa and on the board of Blind Low-vision Education Network New Zealand.

Frian Wadia, MNZM

Co-Chair/ facilitator

Frian is a parent of disabled children, coordinator of advocacy group Very Important Parents – Equity in Education, a Parent to Parent board member, presiding member of the Lottery Individuals with Disability Distribution Committee, and member of National Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group. Frian works part time as an Early Intervention Specialist at Autism NZ. Frian is founder and chair for the Neuroscience And Trauma Informed Network Aotearoa (NATINA) charitable trust. She is hopeful that rights based, EGL and trauma informed approaches in education will improve inclusion for disabled students

Alice Mander

Group member/ mentor for younger members

Alice is a disabled advocate, writer, and student. Heavily involved in student advocacy, she was a founder of the National Disabled Students' Association, and is currently a member of the Independent Electoral Law Review Panel reviewing New Zealand's electoral system and completing her Law (Hons) and Arts degree. She has worked and been involved in numerous disability initiatives, organisations, and advocacy campaigns. She was a semi-finalist in the New Zealander of the Year Awards as a Local Hero in 2022, and the winner of the Impact Award in the Attitude Awards in 2021.

Betty Pulefolau

Group member

Betty has lived experience as a parent of an autistic young adult. She is an Early Childhood Educator from Auckland and is the Co-founder of Pasifika Autism Support Group (PASG)

Carol Rawhiti

Group member

Carol has lived experience as deaf person and New Zealand Sign Language user. She works as a residential youth worker for Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education.

Hannah Pretious

Group member

Hannah (she/they) is a queer, disabled and chronically ill student, disability advocate, policy analyst and researcher. Based in Ōtepoti, Dunedin, she has helped establish the Otago Disabled Students Association in 2020. In 2022 Hannah was involved in the research project with the NZ College of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, and completed a BE Lab programme internship in 2020.

Joanne Dacombe

Group member and Curriculum Voices Group member.

Joanne is a disability advocate with lifelong lived experience both as a disabled person, parent and grandparent. She holds a number of board positions including Autistic Self Advocacy Network - Australia and New Zealand chairperson, Kapiti Disability Advisory Group chairperson, Autism New Zealand board member, and Disabled Person's Assembly national president. She is part on expert advisory groups for the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care and the Joint Venture Diverse Communities Project.

Josh Fuimaono

Group member

Joshua is a New Zealand born Samoan from Auckland with lived experience of cerebral palsy. He is an advisor for the Office for Disability Issues within Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People and has background in disabled youth advocacy, being a founding member of the I.Lead - Youth with Disabilities social change movement.

Kris Dahl

Group member

Kris brings lived experience to the group, navigating the schooling system and needs of her son with cerebral palsy. She supported survivors of state care in prisons to be heard through the Royal Commission of Inquiry and continues to support whānau resilience and wellbeing through her current work at Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Social Development.

Mel Wong

Group member

Mel has lived experience as a twice exceptional person, and as a parent to two twice exceptional daughters. Mel works as a Principal Lecturer in the School of Social Work, Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland. She is also a counsellor, Dream Therapist, and Interactive Drawing Therapist.

Parminder Kaur

Group member

Parminder has lived experience of a chronic disability. She was an executive member of the Disabled Students’ Association, Equity Officer for Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association, and helped to establish the National Disabled

Student’s Association. Currently working at parliament, she leads the staff Diversity and Inclusion Committee and helped establish the Parliamentary Staff Women's Network, and a network for disabled staff.

Rachael Wiltshire

Group member

Rachael is an autistic advocate and was a member of Altogether Autism’s Consumer Advisory Group between 2020 and 2023. She recently moved into a new role as Altogether Autism’s Live Chat agent/researcher.

Rebekah Corlett, MNZM

Group member

Rebekah has lived experience as a parent of an autistic teenager. She is a co-ordinator for VIPS equity in education advocacy group, governing committee member for the Inclusive Education Action Group, a consumer advisory group member for Altogether Autism, and Disability Advisory Group member for Kāpiti Coast District Council.

Shane McInroe

Group member

Shane has lived experience as a person with learning disability. Shane is an active member of People First New Zealand Nga Tāngata Tuatahi. He is a member of the Christchurch local People First group and is Vice President of the Midsouth Region. Shane has previously held the position of President of the Christchurch local group, President of the Midsouth Region, and Vice Chair of the People First National Committee. He is passionate about the rights and wellbeing of people with disability and is involved in a number of groups including National Enabling Good Lives where he represents People First and all people with learning disability, the Waitaha Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group, Disability Leadership Canterbury, Disability and Learning Support NCEA Panel and the Youth Hub Advisory group.

Tara Shepherd

Group member

Tara is the Co-President of the National Disabled Students’ Association for 2023. She has been a passionate advocate since age five, bringing a lived experience as a disabled person and a rural perspective having grown up in Westport. In the past year, she spoke at the Inaugural Conference for Pacific Education Ministers alongside attending the 7th Pacific Regional Disabled Conference in Fiji. She was a member of Minister Hipkins’ Youth Advisory Group for the Ministry of Education, a youth delegate at the virtual Commonwealth Youth Parliament 2021, a 2022 Kiwibank Local Heroes medalist, and 2021 Women of Influence Young Leader finalist.