My Home My Choice

Updated: 09 June 2023

Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People is committed to working in partnership with disabled people, Māori and Government to transform the disability support system in line with the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach.  

The My Home My Choice programme focuses on the work needed to transform the way people in residential services are assisted so they have more choice and control in their lives. This includes developing options and alternatives for people who are considering entry into or exit out of residential care. 

This programme means supporting disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori to live everyday lives in everyday places, ensuring they are citizens with opportunities for learning, working, having somewhere to call home and fully participate in their community. 

We are working alongside disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori, family and whānau to ensure these changes are guided by their voices and experiences. We will work with service providers to ensure their knowledge, experience and examples of best practice are incorporated and built on.  

 On this page

My Home, My Choice is informed by

And guided by:

Who is leading My Home, My Choice

Sir Robert Martin KNZM and Gary Williams MNZM will provide leadership as the patrons of this work programme.  

Sir Robert Martin KNZM  

I spent most of my childhood in various New Zealand institutions, where people were labelled as different and separated from the rest of the community.  

I was first admitted to an institution when I was 18 months old. When I left at the age of 15, I didn’t know I was a citizen with rights, I had no knowledge of critical moments of history, I didn’t even know about the All Blacks (even though I loved rugby). 

This experience gave me a great interest in ensuring that all disabled people get the opportunity to live in the community from birth.   

I have spent my life advocating on behalf of people with disabilities and in particular people with learning disabilities.  

Over the years, I have travelled the world speaking to organisations, families, and people with learning disabilities about many topics, including the right to live in the community, deinstitutionalisation, the right to work, and to live their chosen life. 

New Zealand nominated me for the Committee for the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and I was successfully elected to this role in June 2016.  I am still on the Committee. I am the first person with a learning disability to be elected and succeed. I was given my knighthood in January 2020 for my service to my community. It is believed that I am the first person with a learning disability to have received such an award.  

I live in Whanganui, with my wife Lady Lynda, in a house on a street with a letter box - just like everyone else. I still require assistance to maintain an independent life.  At times I do require assistance through supported decision making, particularly with complex situations. I am very lucky to have family, friends and assistants that meet my needs. So, I can live my life the way I want.  

I believe every individual person is a member of our society. They should be respected and given opportunities and choices just like everyone else.  Disability is often a barrier but should not be a blockade.  People should be able to choose where they live, with whom and how they live.   

I dream of the day in New Zealand where difference is ok and accepted.  And every person has the opportunity to live life to the fullest.   

Gary Williams MNZM Ngāti Porou 

I grew up and attended school in Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast. Then, from the age of 13 until my early 40s I lived in residential care. 

My experience was that people living in residential care were denied free will, preference, and prior and informed consent. For disabled people, the notion of choice and control was moot because they were at the end of the decision-making process. 

Everyone involved in these institutions - including residents, staff, management, and funders become institutionalised.   

I am now a keen advocate for disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Maori. I have particular interests in leadership development and training, the rights of disabled people and effective organisational governance and management. I have been the CEO of DPA, worked as consultant to the disability and NGO sectors and held governance roles for a number of organisations. 

I was also part of the leadership team of the New Zealand delegation that negotiated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2012, I was recognised as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to disability support. 

I am pleased to be able to guide the My Home My Choice programme and believe the successful implementation of the Enabling Good Lives approach will benefit the whole of New Zealand.  

It is time to take action and to make changes to policy settings so we can give disabled people better life outcomes. 

Whaikaha was established to transform the disability support system. As Sir Robert and Gary highlight, it is time to create the changes disabled people and their families have been calling for. 

Amanda Bleckmann, Deputy Chief Executive Operational Design and Delivery 

Amanda has a wealth of experience in commissioning, operational service design and delivery.  

“Disabled people have been calling for changes for many years. This is why Whaikaha was established. The My Home My Choice programme recognises that disabled people, Māori, family, whānau and providers must be central to creating the shifts that will help to make meaningful and real changes in the lives of disabled people. 

The My Home My Choice work programme is a step towards ensuring disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori have equal rights to citizenship – to be doing everyday things in everyday places. 

The programme will focus on ensuring a range of options are available for people who want alternatives to residential care, as well as agency and citizenship in residential services, and that these options align with Te Tiriti of Waitangi, the Enabling Good Lives approach and the UNCRPD recommendations from the 2022 examination.  

I read and I listened to every single witness statement submitted to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care. They left an indelible mark on me. We must make changes that ensure that these experiences can never happen again.”  

Steering group

We have appointed a steering group to support the governance of the Nōku te kāinga noho, Nōku te whakatau | My Home My Choice programme, alongside the Patrons and Sponsor. The group is responsible for guiding and providing advice to this work programme.  

The members include:

  • Peter Knighton – Disability Representative
  • Lee Rutene – Tāngata whaikaha Māori Representative)
  • Joshua Caldwell – Tāngata whaikaha Māori Representative
  • Lisa Martin – Families/Whānau Representative
  • Latoa Halatau – Pacific Peoples Representative
  • Shane Mcinroe – EGL Representative
  • Andrew Wordsworth – Provider Representative

For information on how the Steering Group members were chosen and what the nominations process involved you can view the Call for nominations webpage.

Contact us

There will be opportunities for the wider community to provide feedback throughout the project. We know that hearing the voices of the community will make the project stronger.    

More information will be coming soon about how people can get involved in this work.  

If you have any questions, please get in touch.  

Summary of this webpage with alternate formats

You can also view a summary of the My Home, My Choice webpage (DOCX 48KB), this is also known as the high level statement.

Alternate formats