26 Sep 2011

Powhiri for first disability human rights commissioner

8:39 pm on 26 September 2011

A powhiri has been held at Parliament for the newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson, who will have responsibility for disability issues.

Mr Gibson, who is legally blind, is the first person to hold the position.

Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia says Mr Gibson brings to the position an impressive record of advocacy for disabled people in education and health.

She says he first became involved in the rights of the disabled in 1993 when he set up the organisation CAN DO, run by university students with disabilities.

Mrs Turia says since then, he has been a passionate and powerful advocate for the disabled, including being National President of the Disabled Persons Assembly and a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group which reviewed special education.

Mr Gibson says one issue he wants to urgently address is the disproportionate amount of money going towards disability support for non-Maori or Pacific Island people.