CCS Disability Action has a presence in Whanganui for the first time in 16 years.

The disability advocacy organisation was formally opened in Churton St on Tuesday morning at a ceremony attended by around 50 people, including members of Whanganui's disability community, staff from social agencies, senior members of CCS Disability Action, and deputy mayor Hamish McDouall.

CCS Disability Action - a nationwide organisation - merged with the Whanganui Disability Resources Centre.

Whanganui kaumatua John Maihi and Mita Davies opened the ceremony with a karakia and mihi, which were followed by speeches.


Robert Martin, a disability advocate and a member of the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, told the gathering he believed the presence of CCS Disability Action in Whanganui would "open doors and opportunities for people".

David Matthews, CEO of CCS Disability Action, said while a lot of good work had been done in recent years, people with disabilities still faced difficulties in finding suitable housing, employment and education.

"It is not good enough that buildings still have signs up saying, 'Wheelchair access is around the back'," Mr Matthews said.

He said a new disability strategy for New Zealand would be coming out soon.

"This strategy can't sit on the shelf gathering dust; it must be part of everyone's daily thinking. It is a challenge for everyone, especially those seeking office in the upcoming elections."

Mr Matthews said the presence of CCS Disability Action would bring a "more powerful advocacy" to Whanganui.

Other speakers at the opening included Mr McDouall, Les Gilsenan from the Whanganui Disability Resource Centre, CCS Disability Action president Kim Willetts, and the former chair of the Whanganui Disability Resource Centre Mike Ward.

Former Minister for Disability Issues Dame Tariana Turia was expected at the event, but was held up due to other commitments.