Hall of Fame


Colleen Brown - 2018

Colleen is most proud of doing appeals against the Government. Under the late 90s scheme: Getting it Right Together - Towards 2000, families had to pass a set of criteria in order to get on going resourcing. A number of people missed out, meaning they had to rely on a school’s special education grant for support for their child. Where could parents go if they missed out on funding? The grant allowed parents to seek a review with an independent mediator. Colleen tested the clause, and the first one they did they won. When other families found out, they began calling Colleen, asking for her support. Colleen led 10 appeals. She says it was enormously satisfying but also made her question the imbalance. Often it is the schools, politicians and doctors who ‘know best’, but Colleen believes that parents should have that power and control over their child’s lives. “Professionals don’t quite understand just how quickly parents can be turned into despair. Their whole outlook of a child can be turned into one of despair by a throw away line or an opinion from a professional. You have to be so strong to withstand that.”


Duane Kale - 2017

Duane Kale, Paralympian, university graduate, business manager, and a husband and father has much to be proud of. Yet, at the age of 21 he thought he would have little to contribute to the world.

Doctors had discovered a tumour in his spine - and he feared he would die. An operation removed the tumour and saved his life – but left him with paralysis. Sport had always been a passion - so he turned to swimming. His drive, focus and sheer hard work resulted in selection for the the Atlanta Paralympics ‘96. He won four golds, a silver and a bronze - an outstanding performance.

He also discovered a new passion - coaching and management - eventually serving as Chef de Mission for two Paralympics. At 30 he started a Masters degree in Business. He has had an extensive commercial finance career and is a Senior Manager in ANZ Bank, responsible for 400 staff. Duane has been honoured with a New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the disability community and he is the newly elected Vice President of the International Paralympic Committee.


Anne Hawker - 2016

Anne Hawker has been driving change in the disability sector for 35 years. When her first child was seven months old Anne had the first ‘attack’ of what was originally diagnosed as MS but was later explained as a general neurological condition.

She soon recognised that disabled people were ostracised from society and did not have access to good information; Anne rallied a team to establish the Mosgiel Disability Resource Centre, an information hub that became a model centre for the rest of the country.

Today Anne is the Principal Disability Adviser for the Ministry of Social Development. She is constantly engaged in advocacy and has held many leadership positions in prominent disability organisations in New Zealand and overseas. Anne was the first woman President of Rehabilitation International of which DPA (NZ) is the NZ National Member Organisation. She was also the former President of DPA(NZ) and of the Dunedin regional DPA.

Gary Williams - 2015

For 40 years Gary Williams has resolutely pursued his quest to make the world a better place for disabled people and to re-frame disability from ‘tragedy and burden’ to acceptance and vision. Raised in Tokomaru Bay, an isolated community with no support services, he learnt to be self-reliant and taught himself to write with his feet.

After graduating university he worked for GNS Sciences, a government subsidiary for 17 years as a software developer. When the opportunity arose to take on a leadership role at the Disabled Persons Assembly he decided it was time to walk the talk. Gary was chosen as leader of the New Zealand delegation that negotiated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The first disabled person involved at UN level. Currently he and his wife Ruth are consultants to the disability sector, and have established a Leadership group to ensure there is a disability perspective in the rebuild of Christchurch.


J.B. Munro - 2014

J.B. is a polio survivor who grew up a state ward, but he was fostered into a great family who raised him. J.B. went on to become a youth worker, an Invercargill city councillor, and later a Labour Member of Parliament.

As the MP for Invercargill he championed the 1975 Disabled Persons’ Community Welfare Act… the first time accessibility standards were written into New Zealand law. From the 1970s he was chief executive of the IHC until he retired in the 1990s. J.B. was a supreme fundraiser. The IHC annual fundraising appeal became a huge event where thousands of volunteers knocked on every door in NZ.

Even when he retired, he didn’t really. He’s still involved in volunteering for the community, and serving on boards and in advisory roles. All his life he has seen a community need, thought what to do about it, and tackled it. He is a leader and a change maker.

Alexia Pickering - 2013

When Alexia Pickering was born with spina bifida, no one really expected her to survive. She proved the experts wrong of course - and it’s no surprise that she’s carried on from there. Alexia married Neville Pickering, and they adopted three children, as well as having a daughter of their own, also named Alexia. Neville was a Parliamentarian, who in the 1970s became mayor of Christchurch, and Alexia was mayoress.

She has spent a lifetime championing accessibility for all New Zealanders. Constantly breaking down barriers, Alexia has served on many inquiries and commissions. Although she is well past retirement age, she hasn’t slowed down. Right now she is on the MBIE reference group reviewing what changes need to be made to improve the accessibility of the built environment for everyone.

Alexia has been a member of over a dozen groups representing people with disabilities. That includes her work as a founder of the Christchurch Laura Fergusson Trust and the Barrier Free New Zealand Trust. Alexia Pickering’s long career in public service has been recognised with a Queens Service Order and Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


Sir Murray Halberg - 2012

As a teenager, sport was his life and the All Black dream was in front of him. But a crash rugby tackle changed his life forever. The injury was so severe it put him in hospital for two months. His left arm was virtually paralysed. His dream of a rugby career was over at 17. But out of adversity came opportunity.

Grit and determination have always been a part of Sir Murray's character. In distance running he found the sport he could excel in. Along with Olympic gold, Sir Murray won two other Commonwealth gold medals, and was the first New Zealander to run a sub four minute mile. At the end of his running career on a trip to Canada, he saw what other's were doing to raise funds for disabled children.

The Halberg Trust was formed. One of it's first initiatives was to resurrect the Sports Man of the Year Awards – better known as the Halberg Awards; these Awards continue today. As the Trust's 50th Anniversary approaches it has become a cornerstone of sporting opportunity. Today it offers a wide range of programs for children. In 2012 the Trust has introduced a Disabled Sports Person of the Year Award into the Halberg Awards.

Mary Schnackenberg - 2011

Mary’s long and substantial contribution has been recognised in many ways already, most notably in her appointment in 2007 as a Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the vision impaired community. Mary was born blind in a family of sighted parents and four sighted siblings.

Her parents were avid readers and installed a love of reading in each of their children. Studying for an Arts Degree, Mary set about finding more accessible formats of her textbooks. Mary’s work took her abroad as often as possible in search for better ways to produce and distribute accessible information, ways that could be adapted and improved into world-class solutions here in New Zealand.

Mary's work and accessibility issues include a substantial involvement in getting public transport providers to consider the information needs of sight-impaired users. This list is far from exhausted; her life is truly a life of considerable achievement in her chosen field.


Don McKenzie - 2010

Don McKenzie was born with limited sight and was seven years old when he lost all sight. This very determined youngster went about proving that he could not only deal with his disability but compete on level terms with his peers.

Don excelled at the School for the Blind in Parnell and went on to become one of its first pupils to have a mainstream education at Auckland Grammar. He then broke new ground again winning a scholarship to study at the North London School of Physiotherapy and later returned to New Zealand well qualified to set up his own practise in Manurewa. At the same time, despite a busy professional and family life, Don was engaging in active and passionate advocacy for the blind.

In 1981 Don’s outstanding leadership was recognised when he was made an officer of the British Empire OBE for services for the blind and to physiotherapy. In 2010 Don’s life took a new turn when he was elected to the Waiheke Local Board of the newly formed Auckland Council.

Robert Martin - 2009

Robert Martin is a natural leader, a charismatic speaker and a passionate self-advocate who has been recognised as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to people with disabilities. Robert has led the world as a self-advocate for more than 25 years. He has dedicated his life to seeking accountability and justice for people with intellectual disabilities, insisting people with intellectual disabilities have the right to determine their own lives.

Institutionalised until he was fifteen, Robert is very aware of the injustice people with a disability face in everyday life. In 2009 he completed a 12 year term as chair of a United Nations Committee; the ad hoc committee on the convention for the rights of persons with a disability. He immediately moved on to become the self-advocacy advisor for IHC.

He represents people with an intellectual disability on the Frozen Funds committee. This committee oversees funding applications made to support people who were previously institutionalised and paid for many years into the patients welfare fund, and who did not realise the money they were owed when they left the institutions.