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Newly appointed Ministry of Disabled People chief executive to drive progress

blurred movement disabled man on a city street

Today the Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Poto Williams, welcomed Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission’s appointment of Paula Tesoriero MNZM as Chief Executive, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People.

“I’m delighted someone of this calibre, who has experience, mana and deep connections to the disability community has been appointed to this important role,” said Minister Williams.

“Whaikaha was launched on 1 July 2022 as part of this Government’s commitment to delivering bold and transformational change for disabled people.

“Whaikaha was established to give a voice to the disabled community. Paula Tesoriero will lead this mahi, in partnership with the disability community, Māori and Government to drive change towards a better, more independent future for disabled people, tāngata whaikaha and their whānau.

“There is a lot of work to do, which will take time, and I am looking forward to working with Ms Tesoriero as we progress our vision of a better future for disabled people.

“Te Kawa Mataaho stated in their advertisement for the permanent Chief Executive role that to be successful, the person will be disabled, have credibility and trust with the disability community, as well as empathy and a deep understanding of the unique and diverse experiences of disabled people.

“Ms Tesoriero has all of these attributes and more. She is a widely respected and experienced leader with deep connections to the disability community.

“In her previous role, she has demonstrated a unique understanding of the barriers disabled people face and I believe she’ll do a great job putting the plans in place for meaningful disability system transformation and implementing them over time.

”I know Ms Tesoriero embraces Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and understands the Enabling Good Lives Principles and Whānau Ora approach, which are foundational to Whaikaha and underpin its mahi.

“She also has the mana to work effectively with other government agencies to help improve outcomes for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, health and wellbeing.

Ms Tesoriero has been the Disability Rights Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission since 2017 and was Acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner from 2018 to 2019.  She is a law graduate and an experienced senior public service manager. She has served in a range of governance roles. She is also a gold and bronze medal winning Paralympian and was Chef de Mission for the New Zealand’s 2020 Tokyo Paralympic team.

She has been appointed for five years from 1 September 2022.

“I would also like to acknowledge the mahi of Geraldine Woods who has established the foundations of Whaikaha as Acting Chief Executive since the new Ministry was launched on 1 July 2022,” said Minister Williams.

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