The Government has this morning launched Whaikaha, the new Ministry of Disabled People, which will itself be run by a disabled person.
The ministry was officially launched at a ceremony in Wellington by Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Disability Issues Poto Williams.
The official name Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People was also revealed, becoming the first ministry with the country's three official languages: New Zealand Sign Language, te reo Māori and English.
The chief executive will be a disabled person, the Public Service Commission has said, but because of "personal circumstances", there is a delay in their appointment.
The ministry launch comes as Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority also officially take effect from today.
"Today marks a new chapter for approximately 1.1 million disabled people in Aotearoa New Zealand, and is a significant step toward realising true partnership between Government and disabled people, tāngata whaikaha, their whānau, carers and supporters," said Sepuloni, who had previously also been Minister for Disability Issues.
The new ministry comes from Health and Disability System reforms announced last year.
It was allocated $1 billion in new funding from Budget 2022.
"The disabled community has waited decades for this moment," Sepuloni said.
"That's why work will continue to ensure the new ministry has the time to get its people and systems established so that it's well placed to get the transformation right."
"As the outgoing Minister for Disability Issues, I want to extend my thanks to everyone for the contributions made. The changes being shepherded through are a reflection of hard work and advocacy from across the sector."
Poto Williams, who is taking over as Minister for Disability Issues, said the new ministry would lead and co-ordinate disability policy across the Government.
This included improving outcomes for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, health and wellbeing.
"In the spirit of 'Nothing About Us Without Us', the new ministry will start the ball rolling with ensuring the ministry's culture and values are mana-enhancing, the governance and partnership arrangements are meaningful, and the mechanisms that will give effect to disabled peoples voices are enduring.
"Having worked across the community, voluntary and social services sectors, including in residential disability services, I'm looking forward to engaging with the disability community to achieve better outcomes for our disabled people.
"Today is another step on the journey toward creating a more inclusive society.
"It's a journey which must include all New Zealanders in order to grow awareness and recognise disabled peoples' potential, and the Government is committed to the part we must play along that journey."
Deputy Public Service Commissioner Helene Quilter said there was a delay in finalising the chief executive appointment because of the personal circumstances of the preferred candidate, who is a disabled person.
Geraldine Woods has been appointed interim chief executive.
Woods is currently co-chair of the Ministry for Disabled People Establishment Governance Group.
She will be in the role until the permanent appointment is made.