Disability and Mobility

​​​Wheelchair access via Durie Hill Elevator tunnel 

One in four New Zealanders has a long-term impairment. Many are unable to reach their potential or participate fully in the community because of barriers they face doing things that most of us take for granted. The barriers range from physical, such as access to facilities, to attitude resulting from poor awareness of disability issues.


Disability in Whanganui​

CCS Disability Action Whanganui (formerly Whanganui Disability Resource Centre), Whanganui District Council, Rangitikei District Council and Whanganui District Health Board and the Whanganui Community Foundation were all partners in the formation of the Whanganui Regional Disability Strategy: Manā Tangata Hauā o Whanganui.

The strategy took two years of review, reflection and extensive consultation across the Rangitikei, Waimarino and Whanganui districts. It was finalised in July 2010.

The strategy includes 15 goals for transforming Whanganui, Rangitikei and Ruapehu districts in to inclusive communities for disabled people. The strategy focuses on disabled people choosing the kind of life they want to live and the right to access to education, culture, health, well-being and employment and more.

The strategy is based on the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2001 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008.

Local government has an important part to play in ensuring its citizens enjoy a society that highly values the lives of their community and continually enhances their full participation.


New Zealand signed the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) on 30 March 2007, and ratified it on 26 September 2008. This ratification followed the passing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill and the Human Rights Amendment Bill (No.2).

The Convention recognises that people with impairments often face discrimination because of their disability and from not being recognised in Government policy and services.

The Convention will:

  • Provide greater impetus and support for the implementation of the NZ Disability Strategy. The Convention provides practical guidance on the implementation of the rights of disabled people, both immediately in the text and over time through the regular periodic reporting process to the United Nations; and 
  • Assist government agencies to analyse and improve, where necessary, the current mechanisms for promotion and monitoring of policy that impact on disabled people. It will also help to ensure that mainstream

New Zealand Disability Strategy 2001
The New Zealand Disability Strategy presents a long-term plan for changing New Zealand from a disabling to an inclusive society. The vision of the strategy is a society that highly values the lives and continually enhances full participation of all peoples.


Building Act 2004

  • The Building Act, Sections 112 and 115, must take into account disability issues in respect to access and facilities and alterations to existing buildings.

Human Rights Act 1993

It is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability in any of the prohibited areas of public life. The Act covers disabilities, which people have presently, have had in the past, or which they are believed to have. It is also unlawful to discriminate against relatives or associates of people with a disability, because of that disability. This can mean, for example, a spouse, carer or business partner.

What does the Human Rights Act mean by disability?

  • physical disability or impairment (e.g. respiratory conditions)
  • physical illness
  • psychiatric illness (e.g. depression or schizophrenia)
  • intellectual or psychological disability or impairment (e.g. learning disorders)
  • any other loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function (e.g. arthritis or amputation)
  • reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair or other remedial means
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness (e.g. HIV/AIDS or hepatitis)

Health and Disability Act 2000

The New Zealand Health and Disability Act sets the strategic direction and goals for health and disability services in New Zealand. These include to improve health and disability outcomes for all New Zealanders, to reduce disparities by improving the health of Māori and other population groups, to provide a community voice in personal health, public health, and disability support services and to facilitate access to, and the dissemination of information for, the delivery of health and disability services in New Zealand.

Overview of Disability Issues

Currently disability issues are being addressed to some extent at an operational level. With the increasing age of our population, it would be prudent to encourage a disability perspective for planning and strategic purposes. This includes the design of community assets and strategies on how those assets are utilised. Council is addressing disability issues at both the operational level and in future design of projects.

The Council currently relies on an informal common sense approach to identifying projects that require a disability perspective. The Council is endeavouring to take into account a disability perspective to be incorporated at the early stages of project development to improve the final outcome.

Disability Awareness in the Community

The Council is trying to actively promote greater disability awareness through its communications with the community. This includes promoting the different ways in which the Council has made its documents and communications more accessible.

Disability Services Directory of Regional Information 

The Whanganui Disability Resources Centre maintains an up-to-date, comprehensive directory of local, regional and national organisations which provide specific or generic health and/or disability services to our community.

Page reviewed: 26 Sep 2016 1:26pm