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Disability Advisory Panel

Te Rōpū Kaiārahi Hauātanga

Te Rōpū Kaiārahi Hauātanga (TRKH), the Disability Advisory Panel, was formed in late 2021 to inform the Chief Ombudsman of his work in the area of disability rights.

The purpose of TRKH is to make sure Chief Ombudsman has access to timely and high-quality expert advice from New Zealanders with lived experience of disability, thereby reflecting the mantra of the disability rights movement: nothing about us, without us’.

The panel’s work

The team of nine help to produce key insights on accessibility and equity from disabled people across the nation. 

The video features Te Rōpū Kaiārahi Hauātanga Disability Advisory Panel in their first meeting since it was formed in late 2021 to inform the Chief Ombudsman of his work in the area of disability rights.

The panel also helps to identify, deconstruct and confront barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in society. They provide centred critical perspectives from Māori, Pasifika, and young TRKH members to show the intersections of these barriers with other social issues in Aotearoa.

What does Te Rōpū Kaiārahi Hauātanga mean

  • Te Rōpū - The Group
  • Kaiārahi - Guide
  • Hauātanga - Disability

The word hauātanga also has connections with Tāwhirimātea—the god of weather, storms and wind (hau) — who is also blind. This connection gives strength to the term.

Panel members

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier

Peter Boshier

Chief Ombudsman

Peter Boshier is Chief Ombudsman for New Zealand. He was appointed in December 2015 following a distinguished career as a judge, and in May 2020 was reappointed for a second five-year term. He values highly the voices of disabled people and the panel makes sure he has timely access to high-quality expert advice from New Zealanders with lived experience of disability. Mr Boshier says it's important disabled people feel included and are not discriminated against. The advice provided by the panel will help Mr Boshier ensure he considers all matters with a disability lens and that Fairness for All - Tuia kia Ōrite extends to all disabled New Zealanders.

Mary Schnackenberg

Mary Schnackenberg

Director, AI Comms

Mary Schnackenberg is a well-known disability advocate, especially for people who are blind or have low vision. Mary, an accredited braille producer, is Director at Accessible Information and Communications Limited (an accessible communications producer and accessibility advisory service). She has served as DPO Coalition Chair, is on The Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust, the Ministry of Health’s Disability Directorate Consumer Consortium, and the PHARMAC Consumer Advisory Committee.


Lara Draper

Lara Draper

Deaf Aotearoa

Lara Draper is Deaf and uses New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). She is passionate about Deaf issues and advocating for Deaf people’s rights. Lara is the General Manager for Adult and Senior Services at Deaf Aotearoa (not for profit national organisation, DPO) and based in Christchurch.  She manages Hauora and Employment services supporting the Deaf community including Deaf seniors and also leads on Adult Community Education (ACE).

Lara grew up in the north of England, and after studying Sports Science degree and primary school teaching post-graduate certificate in education, she moved to London to become a presenter on the BBC TV See Hear! Programme. Lara continued in this role for 5 years and presented programmes using British Sign Language (BSL). She has had a varied career as a social care manager for Deaf services, a lecturer, disability co-ordinator, tutor, teacher and project-leader. Prior to becoming a GM for Deaf Aotearoa, Lara was a Team Leader for the First Signs service for 5 years.  This programme provides support for families of deaf babies and children aged 0 – 5.

Sam Fitness

Sam Fitness

Youth Member / Student

Sam Fitness is working towards his Bachelor’s degree in Resource Planning at Massey University, and joins the Panel as a youth member. His ultimate goal is to work for regional council in a planning position to promote disability and inclusion in the community. Sam currently plays on the Bay of Plenty wheelchair rugby team.

Dr Jonathan Godfrey ONZM

Dr Jonathan Godfrey ONZM

Senior Lecturer School of Fundamental Sciences Massey University | National President Blind Citizens NZ

A lecturer in statistics at Massey University, Dr Jonathan Godfrey’s research focuses on removing barriers to the thousands of blind people around the world. He wants to make sure that visual elements in statistical thinking and practice are accessible to everyone. Jonathan is currently National President at Blind Citizens NZ.

Tania Kingi

Tania Kingi

Kairangahau at Te Roopu Waiora

Disability rights advocate Tania Kingi has been involved in the social, health and disability sectors for a long time. She brings with her extensive management and governance experience, along with specialist strategic planning skills arising from her focus on integrating wellbeing services through community collaborations.

Leo McIntyre

Leo McIntyre

Chairman, Balance Aotearoa

Leo McIntyre is a respected disability and human rights advocate, in particular representing people with lived experience of mental distress. He has worked in the mental health space for a number of years, including as the manager of Temp Solutions, and he chaired the Disabled People’s Organisations Coalition from November 2019 to October 2020. Leo is currently chairman at Balance Aotearoa, and is also a member of the Mental Health Commission Advisory Group.

Maurice Priestley

Maurice Priestley

Board Member CCS Disability Action

Maurice Priestley has had an affiliation with CCS Disability Action since childhood, and is currently a board member. As a disability rights advocate, he has had a number of roles in championing disability rights including with Capital & Coast District Health Board where he was Disability Advisor and worked to support the implementation of the NZ Disability Strategy.  

Natasha Swann

Natasha Swann

Youth Member / Member of Ngā Rōpu o Manaaki Tāngata (MTK)

Natasha Swann, is a founding member of MTK, the rangatahi group that works closely with Kāpo Māori Aotearoa (KMA), where she is an Executive Member. MTK and KMA shares ideas and stories, in order to work on improving services and the lives of people in their rohe. Natasha was nominated for Te Kahui Tumuaki in 2019 by her MTK peers.

Pelenakeke Brown ​

Independent Artist 

Recently returned to Aotearoa, after spending six years working in the United States, Pelenakeke Brown is an interdisciplinary, disabled artist. Pelenakeke is passionate about inclusion of disabled people in the arts, and the accessibility of arts to the disability community. 

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