Strong Voices

Empowered Lives

November 25, 2022

We are heading rapidly towards the end of year – the weather is supposedly warming up (though I’m writing this in Wellington, where November is notoriously windy and disappointing) and many of us are dreaming about holidays ahead.

August 5, 2022

Tom Russell has just finished a day’s work at the Te Tuhi Training Café in Pakuranga working at the till, taking orders and baking a batch of almond friands.

He loves it. He loves it so much he wants other people with disabilities to come to the café and ask him or the trainers about whether it’s something they would like to do “because it’s a very good opportunity”.

August 5, 2022

David Snelgar doesn’t say much when he’s concentrating on art. But during the 10 years he has shared Bruce Maunder’s art studio the men have come to an understanding about a few important things.

Art is one of those things. For both men the art session at Bruce’s place every second Wednesday is a firm commitment.

David, 59, has autism. Art has always been central to his life, revealing the way he views the world. He covered the walls of his family home in his paintings, encouraged by his mother Hazel, who was an artist who worked in clay.

August 5, 2022

Alannah was being home-schooled in Hanmer Springs during the lockdown. Diksha was in India wondering when she would be able to see her mother in New Zealand.

The two girls started writing to each other – old-fashioned letters between pen pals across 13,000 kilometres. The letters went back and forth between Hanmer and Punjab in north-west India for two years. Then the two girls finally met.

August 5, 2022

Where would we be without the internet?

August 5, 2022


Researchers tracking the development of young children in Australia and New Zealand with Williams syndrome are returning to New Zealand to catch up on lost COVID time with Kiwi kids.

The research is being led by Associate Professor Melanie Porter, a senior clinical neuropsychologist, and clinical neuropsychology intern and PhD candidate Jessica Reeve from Macquarie University in Sydney. Jessica recently submitted her PhD study on Williams syndrome.

August 5, 2022

Four art works – all winners of the IHC Art Awards L’affare People’s Choice Award – have been chosen as the designs for new NZ Post stamps.

The IHC Art Awards showcase the creativity of hundreds of Kiwi artists with intellectual disabilities. The winners of the top prizes are selected by a panel of judges. Since 2013, members of the public have been able to cast their votes to choose a popular winner.

August 5, 2022

Three new research reports on housing and health affecting disabled people have been released without any public launch, despite the wishes of the disabled people’s organisations involved.

They make for grim reading, revealing a level of desperation that will be uncomfortable for many because the issues they raise, many of them tangled together, aren’t easy to fix.

August 5, 2022

New IHC Director of Advocacy Tania Thomas has waited too long to see positive changes happening for people with intellectual disabilities.

“We have spent a great deal of time defining the problems and issues in the disability sector. It’s time to find the solutions and to start implementing them. We have to think about different strategies.”

With the launch of the new Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, she sees an opportunity to make progress.

August 5, 2022

This was his magic moment. The korowai came down off the wall and was draped around Shelby Porowini’s shoulders. It meant he was now one of the big kids and was going to school.

Shelby didn’t know what was happening, says his mum Stephanie Porowini. “He just thought he was having a party and he had seen the other kids doing it and thought, this is cool. It’s my turn now.”

May 26, 2022

Finding a love match when you have an intellectual disability is not an easy business. But six people with Down syndrome have tried to do just that with a film crew watching their every move.

Down for Love is a new primetime show screening on TVNZ 2 and filmed by Attitude Pictures.