A new partnership between international students and people with disabilities in Rotorua is already seeing success.

Disability support service ImagineBetter and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology have teamed up to connect two groups of people who wouldn't normally cross paths.

Kuldeep Dhiman and John Harvey's friendship has been one of the initiative's early outcomes.

John Harvey and Kuldeep Singh at the Rotorua Library. Photo / Samantha Olley
John Harvey and Kuldeep Singh at the Rotorua Library. Photo / Samantha Olley

Kuldeep, 28, arrived in New Zealand from India 18 months ago.


He was an early pick for the initiative because he had a background in social work, working with people with disabilities, the elderly and children.

John, 40, is lives with a disability in Rotorua.

At least once a week, the pair go to watch action movies together or go to ten pin bowling, to Special Olympics sports, the library or they get a snack at a cafe together.

John enjoys cafes and works at the Arts Village Cafe once a week.

He also loves the library.

"We look at books, mainly about movies, I like James Bond," he says.

"Kuldeep helps me because I can share my problems with him."

Kuldeep told the Rotorua Weekender "John has shown me a lot of new places in Rotorua, places like Motion Entertainment and the library. I have met a lot of people through John and his mum."

ImagineBetter area coordinator Mary Barnett says the pair's bond also worked well because it helped Kuldeep develop in his area of work, and has helped John to be independent in his community after moving back home two years ago.

She says ImagineBetter is welcoming of other individuals from both groups who are keen to give the initiative a go.

Mary says it is their vision "to develop welcoming communities and inspire natural supports within those".

"We are passionate about investing in and supporting people to be their own agents of change and enhancing community connections."