Hamilton may not be holding any official events to celebrate, but Disability Pride Week has been in full swing this week as the 2019 edition of disability's celebration focuses on the theme of Setting the Agenda.

Perhaps fitting with the upcoming local body elections, the vision behind this year's pride week is largely about the disability community making the issues affecting it known to local candidates standing for local and regional councils.

Crucial, says lead coordinator Rachel Noble, is an agenda that strives towards disabled people being valued as citizens and active participants in the community.

"The week generates conversations, connections and a feeling of being a collective as we find our commonalities, our shared history and our shared expectations for the future," Noble said.


A big part of choosing this year's theme was about continuing toward the ideals about what needs to change for the disability community moving forward.

Several events were held around the country this week to spur the discussion, including a short film show case at Wellington's BATS Theatre and a panel discussion at Victoria University that featured top advocates, writers and professionals with long-standing careers in disability, including the current Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero.

Further south, in Invercargill, a community event was run by the local community with discussions about full inclusion in the modern world.

The Human Rights Commission has also thrown its support behind pride week via an initiative called Proud to be Me, encouraging disabled people to share their stories in the form of blogs and poems where, so far, over 20 stories showcasing the diversity of disability have been published.

Now into its third year, Disability Pride Week is run by a group headed by Noble, and they hope to secure funding to ensure more events can be held around the country in coming years.

"Disability Pride Week has come about through the generous contributions of many individuals and organisations who believe in our ethos.

"This year the week has elevated to a new level and the desire to join our conversation has increased so our challenge for 2020 is to be able to meet the expectations of our community and partners," Noble said.

New Zealand's disability community spans 1.1 million people, 24 per cent of the national population.


Disability Pride Week runs from September 16 to September 22.

Michael Pulman is a freelance journalist based in Hamilton and covers rugby, cricket and social issues.