We are keen to regularly profile rehabilitation-related research conducted within NZ.  Please contact us if you would like us to profile a published paper, poster or conference presentation

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  • 25 Aug 2021 9:46 AM | Sara Crow

    Given the recent changes in COVID Alert Levels, the NZRA Executive and the Conference Planning Committee has made the difficult decision to postpone the NZRA 2021 Conference, ‘Achieving Equity’, to be held in Rotorua, 17-19  September 2021.

    In making this decision, we have considered: the low likelihood of New Zealand being in Alert Level 1 before 17 September; the challenges of hosting an in-person conference at other alert levels; the cost and impact of not postponing but moving to a fully online conference; the currently high workloads of health professionals in New Zealand; the core objectives of NZRA; and, most importantly, what option would give us the best chance to deliver a high value conference to attendees.

    We are currently exploring options for when the conference can be held and will be in touch with you with more details by Friday 3 rd September.

    We would also like to advise that anybody who booked accommodation via the registration process, Conference Innovators will cancel this and no cancellation fees will apply. If you booked your own accommodation, we would recommend that you make contact with the provider to cancel.

    We are disappointed by the need to postpone what was shaping to be a very thought-provoking and inspiring conference. We are so very grateful for everyone’s willingness to share their insights and kōrero about achieving equity in rehabilitation within Aotearoa NZ.

    We look forward to you joining us when we get the chance to gather again!

    If you have any questions that require immediate attention, please email .

    Otherwise, we will email you again soon with more details.

    Thanks for your understanding.

    Me mahi tahi tātou.

    Rachelle Martin

    Conference Convener

    William Levack

    NZRA President

  • 18 Aug 2021 2:37 PM | Sara Crow

    Mahi Tika–Equity in Employment is a disabled-led employment programme developed by Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) New Zealand.

    The programme is delivered across the Waikato region in a project funded by Trust Waikato and Te Ara Mahi (TAM), a portion of the Provincial Growth Fund allocated to focus on regional skills and employment development with the aim of getting local people into sustained local employment.

    Disabled people experience marginalisation and discrimination. However, they are resilient problem solvers with a wealth of skills and knowledge on offer.

    Mahi Tika–Equity in Employment is designed and led by disabled people and includes large elements of pastoral care to empower participants and enable them to achieve sustainable employment

    Prudence Walker, Chief Executive of DPA spoke about what it means to be chosen as a finalist.

    This innovation will be presented at the conference and you will have an opportunity to vote for which innovation you think is most deserving of this year's award.

  • 14 Aug 2021 10:39 AM | Sara Crow

    We have a fantastic line up of speakers at this year's conference. Here's a brief bio on each of them, so you can get a glimpse into the diverse group of contributors this year.

    CATE GRACE [Kai Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha]

    Cate works as Person with Lived Experience Engagement Lead with the Burwood Academy Trust. She is the founder and kaiwhakahaere of Whānau Whanake, a community-based social enterprise supporting Māori and whānau health and wellbeing.

    Cate also lives with the experience of disability and is involved in the governance of several disability advocacy and Māori organisations.

    Cate’s passion is to increase accessibility and participation for those facing barriers, creating diverse and thriving places within our local communities and wider society.


    Jacquie is of Ngāpuhi, Irish and French descent and is an Associate Professor at the Auckland University of Technology. Her academic practice is focused on social justice, anti-racism and equity in health for Māori.

    Generally, she takes a kaupapa Māori approach to her research, meaning that her projects are based on whānau strengths, community needs and local solutions to complex issues.

    She has a particular interest in the use of creative methodologies of research dissemination and has had her poetry published in several academic journals and books.

    JOSH CALDWELL [Pirirākau, Ngāti Ranginui]

    When Josh is not providing peer support to people with newly acquired spinal cord injury, he works as a research assistant and as the Person with Lived Experience (PLEx) Network Coordinator for the Burwood Academy Trust.

    Josh acquired his SCI in 2016 as a result of an autoimmune disease. Josh’s involvement with peer support research has allowed him to develop his research skills further while also ensuring that the resulting research findings are applicable to people who are learning to live well with a SCI and useable by peer support providers.


    Martin is the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer within the Ministry of Health, working in partnership with the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Office in providing transdisciplinary clinical leadership and advice.

    The role works at a systems level as well as providing support to clinicians, programmes, and projects across the Ministry. He is aligning a work programme around what he describes as the five challenges facing allied health. This includes the challenges of demonstrating the value add of the allied health professions to population health outcomes; and working towards the concept of transdisciplinary working in the provision of healthcare services. Martin was the 2019-20 New Zealand Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice.


    I am a Māori, have a big whānau (family), and belong to many. I was a teacher and an educator for many years but that disappereared when I suffered stroke in 2005. I could not talk or do anything for myself. Though people were all around me, I was terrified and felt alone.

    My brain was damaged, but I knew enough to know that education could give me purpose, direction, and hope. There were educational achievements and successes, but the greatest was knowing who I am and who I belong to.

    I am Rukingi, a stroke survivor.


    Sarah’s personal experience of mental illness shaped her university study with the areas of psychology, medical law, bioethics, and psychological medicine being the focus through to PhD level.

    Combining this theoretical education and personal experience, Sarah has spent the last 20 years working and advocating for an improved mental health sector and societal perceptions of mental health from the perspective of a person who personally experiences mental illness.

    Since 2011 Sarah has worked as a service user academic with the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago. Through this role, she has promoted and progressed service user-led and co-produced education and research.

    This work has resulted in the establishment of "World of Difference" – a service user academia education and research team, which Sarah currently leads. The education and research programs being led or co-produced by the World of Difference team are focused on ending discrimination, and promoting recovery, inclusion, and respect for the human rights of people who experience mental distress.


    Tim has a background in educational psychology, research, and app development. Tim works as a research assistant with the Burwood Academy, and is also a consultant to central and local governments on accessibility issues.

    Tim focuses on using technology to solve accessibility issues after facing many accessibility issues in his own experiences as a tetraplegic.

    Tim has a business, Smart Access, which collects and sells data on 35 accessibility variables to local governments to help better prioritise infrastructure spending. In his spare time, Tim is embarking on PhD studies!

  • 02 Aug 2021 4:02 PM | Sara Crow

    Te Pou Aropā Takitoru has been announced as one of the finalists for this year's innovation award.

    Te Pou Aropā Takitoru is a nation-wide coordinated peer support service providing informal support to those adapting to limb loss. It was officially launched in New Zealand in August 2019 in collaboration with Peke Waihanga, Limbs 4 Life and Amputees Federation of New Zealand reflected in its Māori name – Te Pou Aropā Takitoru.

    The Pou symbolises the three organisations, Peke Waihanga, Amputee’s Federation of New Zealand (Inc) and Limbs 4 Life representing the three Pou supporting the wharenui.

    The service offers pre/post-amputation, living with amputation and partner support from trained volunteers who have experienced limb loss themselves. The service Coordinator matches recipients to a peer support volunteer, conducts follow-up phone calls to evaluate the support provided and facilitates access to other support services as and when needed.

    Matthew Bryson spoke to NZRA about being chosen as a finalist.

    This innovation will be presented at the conference and you will have an opportunity to vote for which innovation you think is most deserving of this year's award.

  • 22 Jul 2021 8:15 PM | Sara Crow

    Just a reminder that the NZRA Conference 2021 early bird registration closes on 31 July.

    Current rego prices for full conference are: NZRA member $550 / Non-member $600 / student/person with lived experience* $350.

    From 1 August the prices for full conference are: NZRA member $750 / Non-member $800 / student/person with lived experience* $400

    One day conference rego til 31 July: NZRA member $350 / Non-member $400 / student/person with lived experience* $200

    One day conference rego from 1 August: NZRA member $400 / Non-member $450 / student/person with lived experience* $250

    It's definitely worth your while to register now! Save yourself (or your organisation) up to $200.

    Go to to secure your spot!

    #rehabilitation #conference #earlybird #NZRAconference2021

  • 30 Jun 2021 6:45 AM | Sara Crow

    Congratulations to NZRA life member and current board member Anne Hawker on becoming an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to disabled people. 

    We caught up with Anne and asked her about her Queen’s Honour. Anne says she was humbled but proud to be acknowledged for her work.

    Anne became the first woman president of Rehabilitation International and used that to “assist disabled women to have a different life,” says Anne. She’s also proud to have been President of the Disabled Persons Assembly and get the Human Rights Act passed as well as the Disability Survey.

    Despite having achieved so much, Anne still sees potential for more change and development within the disability space. “[I’d like to see a] continued move from special into mainstream and clearer when specialised services are required,” says Anne. She’d also like to see more community development in rehabilitation, and for rehabilitation to be available to everyone.

    Anne also wants disability to be part of the diversity conversation, for the stigma towards disabled people removed, for people’s strengths not their deficits to be seen, and for a move away from the medical model to the social model.

    “Disabled people are proud of who we are, and we are proud to use the term disabled people without having others define us,” She adds.

    Anne says that her career path chose her, as she had to give up teaching after being diagnosed with disseminated sclerosis.

    We asked Anne why people should come to the NZRA conference this year. “Be part of the conversation to drive change in the rehabilitation sector to ensure you contribute to a revitalised and relevant rehabilitation sector.”

    The full impact of Anne’s work cannot be measured as her work has been life-changing for so many, but milestones in her career were curated for the Queen’s Honours announcement, and we’ve added some others that need acknowledging.

    • President of Otago DPA & Otago MS Society

    • Setting up Total Mobility in Otago

    • The first non-DHB to establish a home support service for ACC

    • Established the first stroke club and carers group in New Zealand

    • Set up the attendant care scheme in Otago

    • Member of the Taieri Social Service & Dunedin Social Service Committee

    • Ran the Dunedin women’s school girl cricket competition

    • Managed the Otago women’s school girl cricket and school girl hockey teams

    • President of Rehabilitation International from 2008 to 2012 and chaired their Social Commission from 2000 to 2008.

    • Played a leading role in Rehabilitation International’s work towards the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

    • President of the Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand from 1993 to 1997, where she led and partnered a range of policy initiatives and championed all issues facing disabled people from employment, data, human rights; education, health and accessibility.

    • Advocated for the New Zealand Disability Strategy, which then became New Zealand’s negotiating mandate for the UNCRPD.

    • Treasurer of the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association and the Federation of Disability Information Service in the late 1980s and 1990s.

    • New Zealand’s representative to the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1988 to 1993.

    • CEO of the Head Injury Society in 1995/1996.

    • Principal Disability Advisory for MSD since 2007. With the Ministry for Social Development, she singlehandedly implemented the ‘Lead Toolkit: A guide for employing disabled people’, published in 2018.

    • Instrumental in establishing the ‘We Enable Us’ network, providing leadership on effective and inclusive employment of disabled people in the public sector.

    • Been a driving force behind ‘The Accessibility Charter’.

    Well done Anne, we are so proud of you and your achievements so far! And we are grateful for your ongoing involvement in the NZRA.

  • 20 Jun 2021 1:11 PM | Sara Crow

     Jo Nunnerley (and team) were announced as one of our three finalists for the NZRA Innovation Award 2021, for their use of virtual reality to help with brain injury rehabilitation.

    In collaboration with Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust (LFBIT), CerebralFix, University of Otago and Callaghan Innovation they used a co-design process with clinicians and people with traumatic brain injury to develop a therapeutic virtual reality tool aimed at increasing the awareness of and teaching self-management strategies for cognitive fatigue after brain injury.

    This tool can simulate real-world situations without having to bring the client to those locations. This could include a supermarket, a cafe/restaurant or a place of work—activities the client would need to interact with as part of their normal daily lives post-injury.

    Cognitive fatigue is the most troubling and longest lasting symptom in 73% of individuals recovering from a traumatic or acquired brain injury. The long-term effects of fatigue can considerably impair an individual's ability to work and lead a normal life, including participating in social activities  with whānau and friends.

    The team used a three-phase co-design approach to develop the virtual reality system, to ensure that input and opinions of people with lived experience of brain injury and experienced clinicians were integrated throughout the entire process.

    Jo spoke to NZRA about what it means to be chosen as a finalist for this year's award.

    This innovation will be presented at the conference and you will have an opportunity to vote for which innovation you think is most deserving of this year's award.

  • 11 Jun 2021 11:10 AM | Sara Crow

    The three finalists for this year's inaugural Innovation Award have been chosen, and all three presenting their innovations as part of the NZRA conference where one will be chosen as the overall winner.

    Tim Young and the team from Disabled Person's Assembly submitted their 'Mahi Tika—Equity in Employment', a disabled-led employment programme for the Waitako region.

    Matthew Bryson from Peke Waihanga–Artificial Limb Service submitted 'Te Pou Aropā Takitoru, a nation-wide coordinated peer support service for those adapting to limb loss.

    Jo Nunnerley and her team submitted a therapeutic virtual reality tool for people who've experienced a traumatic brain injury—developed in collaboration with Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust, CerebralFix, University of Otago and Callaghan Innovation.

    Each of the finalists will be profiled over the coming weeks, in the lead-up to the conference and will have 15 minutes to present their innovation at the conference. There are no rules for what this presentation should look like.

    Finalists have been encouraged to choose a presentation approach that best conveys the innovation and helps them demonstrate that the innovation meets the award criteria.

    The audience will determine the final winner of the 2021 Rehabilitation Innovation Award, judging against the award criteria. The winner will receive an additional $1000 to put toward activities of their choosing.

    As a finalist, they will receive financial support of up to $1500 to attend the NZRA conference, He Mahi Tahi Tātou: Achieving Equity in Rehabilitation, 17-19 September 2021 in Rotorua. 

  • 22 Apr 2021 6:38 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a message from “Hidden Abilities”, which we have agreed to share on our website. However, NZRA is not involved in any aspect of Hidden Abilities, or its parent organisation SIM Ethiopia. Hidden Abilities and SIM Ethiopia do not represent NZRA. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity further, you will need to do your own research into this organisation and the terms and conditions of contributing to their work. Contact details are supplied below.

    If you’ve ever wanted to use your rehabilitation skills and experience to help other countries flourish, then Ethiopia is a land of opportunity (and great coffee). 

    With very few physiotherapists, particularly with any experience in paediatric therapy, and no occupational therapists or speech and language therapists, they are facing an uphill battle to support those who most desperately need the help. 

    Hidden Abilities is a SIM project based in Bahir Dah, Ethiopia who provide therapy to children with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, club feet and other developmental delay. 

    There is an opportunity for you to visit them on a short-term trip to upskill their staff, or share your resources or simply donate to help fund the work they do. 

    In Ethiopia having a disability or a disabled child is seen as a curse from God. The shame drives many parents to hide their children in their homes, or for the father to abandon his wife and children. 

    Hidden Abilities works to “help children discover and develop their ‘hidden abilities’, and to feel loved and valued for who they are”. 

    Nati is one of the children they are helping flourish. While in the Neonatal Unit after a difficult birth, his parents were told that they shouldn’t waste their money as he’d probably die soon. His parents insisted that as long as he was breathing, they would do all they could for him. 

    He went home after a few weeks but it wasn’t until he was about one that they noticed he didn’t stand or walk like other children and always sat with one leg bent backwards. Most medical people told them “ there’s no hope; take Nati home and feed him but he will never be able to walk”. 

    But someone told them about Hidden Abilities and the family travelled over 30km to the centre where after several months Nati was able to crawl, stand and then walk. His parents dream of the day when he will be able to run and go to school like all ‘normal’ children. 

    Each week they are providing free therapy twice a week for 80 children up to 18 years old. They also provide nutritional support for the poorest families and educational support for those children fortunate enough to attend school. 

    They are currently in discussions with the Government training hospital about starting an Early Intervention Programme. “By treating early, we can potentially undo damage within days or weeks rather than years, which would significantly improve the quality of life of the child and their family.” 

    If you’d like to know more about Hidden Abilities and the possibility to visiting them you can contact Emily Ling: / whatsapp: +251965179122 

  • 07 Apr 2021 8:01 PM | Anonymous

    Researchers from the Centre for Person Centred Research at Auckland University of Technology would like to interview:

    • People and whānau experiencing age-related neurological impairment such as Stroke, Parkinson's, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia.
    • Health professionals who work with these people

    about their experiences of living or working with age-related neurological impairment and the people and environments that help them build their personal resources for living with long term neurological impairment.

    "We recognise that living with long-term neurological impairment can be challenging. We believe that things – services, people and organisations that work with people living with neurological impairment can help to build their confidence and ability to manage these challenges.

    Our focus for this research is to find out what positive things services and health professionals do to contribute to a person’s ability to develop skills and confidence to thrive /manage their health condition. We are also keen to understand your impressions of why these positive things work and in which circumstances.

    The interviews will be based around people reflecting on one or two critical incidents (either as health care providers or patients/clients and their whānau).

    Can you tell me what happened?

    What was it about this event that made it a positive experience for you?

    What was the context?

    What was the clinician / service doing?

    How did it make you feel?

    Did this incident change anything about the way that you think?

    Did the incident change anything about what you do?

    What was the outcome for you? "

    You can view the flyer for the research here

    If you are interested in participating or know of someone else who is interested, then contact Christine Cummins via email: or visit their website

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