Dr Huhana Hickey is often reminded that she lives in a world that wasn't designed with her in mind.
The legal academic and disability rights activist sometimes can't even get into the lecture theatres where she's required to do her job.
"Some of these lecture theatres are so antiquated that I can't give a lecture down at the bottom because I can't access it," she tells the Front Page podcast.
The academic field isn't the only space where she's encountered these challenges. Having sat in on hearings at the High Court, she also found that many were not accessible to someone in a wheelchair.
"Perhaps if we made courthouses accessible, we could start to see disabled judges," she says.
"We could also start to see disabled prisoners actually tried properly without the indignity of inaccessibility."
Hickey hopes the Ministry for Disabled People, launched today, will start to address many of the inequities that exist across society.
"I'm hopeful," she says, "but it will all come down to the first CEO, the first governance board and steering committee to make sure we get this right from the get-go … If we get a very good legal or policy team at the head office, we can provide very good advice to every ministry and directly to the crown."
Hickey sees this as an important step toward giving the disabled community visibility in the Government so that decisions don't overlook this group.
"A voice that has been missing is the voice of the lived experience, the voice of the disabled at the table," says Hickey.
"Disability has no presence in Government right now. It has very little as far as lived experience goes and we have very little leadership that actually comes from the disability community."
This lack of representation and visibility has been reflected in a system that hasn't taken full consideration of the disabled community until now.
A Cabinet paper described the current system as "fragmented, slow, hard to measure, and hasn't led to the credible policy, system design and service delivery needed to achieve an accessible society".
For context, Hickey says many of New Zealanders live with some type of disability but only 1 per cent of the country's private and public housing stock is fully accessible.
"We're 25 per cent of the population and a very good number of us have physical disabilities," she says.
"The new designs for Kāinga Ora and designs for many buildings has effectively led to entire suburbs excluding disabled people."
Employment and accommodation are only two examples of the way society is structured to inadvertently exclude New Zealanders living with disabilities.
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the Ministry has been developed in direct response to demand from the community.
"It provides us with the mechanism and I guess the infrastructure to be able to progress in areas where disabled people feel that progress has not been made fast enough," Sepuloni says.
"The new Ministry will have policy capacity and the ability to not only do things themselves, but also influence change and policy decision-making across the public sector."
Sepuloni says that creating a living environment that's more accessible doesn't only benefit those living with disabilities. New Zealand's elderly and parents with young children will also see advantages in the changes.
The Government's Budget has set aside $108 million for the establishment of the Ministry, money Sepuloni says will be put toward employing Ministry staff and also eventually to allow the team to move into their own space.
"We're looking to ensure the Minister has its own space. At the moment they're going to be situated with the Ministry of Social Development because finding accessible spaces, unfortunately, isn't that simple."
While the Ministry for Disabled has just launched, it's already undergoing a transitional period.
The groundwork for the Ministry was done by Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni, but she will now be passing the baton to Minister Poto Williams.
The appointment of Williams as the Minister for Disability Issues came about during the Cabinet reshuffle where she was relieved of her position as Police Minister.
Asked whether it was of concern that somebody who doesn't live with a disability is taking charge of this Ministry, Sepuloni didn't hesitate.
"Firstly, I'd say that we need disabled people in Parliament," said Sepuloni.
"I would like to see down the track that we get to the point that it's no longer deemed even possible or acceptable that you would have a Minister for Disability issues that isn't disabled. We certainly have got there with other population group agencies.
"It's inconceivable that you wouldn't have a woman in charge of the Ministry for Women or a Pacific person in charge of the Ministry for Pacific. We need to get to that point, but we don't currently have any disabled people in Parliament. There needs to be work done there."
Sepuloni did, however, express confidence in Williams, pointing to the former Police Minister's previous advocacy experience leading Women's Refuge in West Auckland as well as her support for survivors of the Christchurch earthquakes.
The pressure will now be on to ensure that this Ministry delivers on its big promise to a community that has long been excluded.
The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am.