Ngā Hui a te Rōpū Kaitohutohu Take Hunga Hauā / Disability Advisory Panel






Minutes of an extraordinary meeting of the Disability Advisory Panel held in the Room 1, Level 26, 135 Albert Street on Monday, 21 August 2023 at 2.3pm.


Te Hunga kua Tae mai | present


Interim Chairperson

Martine Abel-Williamson



Barry de Geest



Ryan dos Santos Meechan

Via electronic link


Amy Hogan

Via electronic link


Aine Kelly-Costello



Gerard Martin



Chris Orr



Bonnie Robinson



Toa Te Wheoro

Via electronic link




Liaison Councillor

Sharon Stewart



Te Hunga Kāore i Tae Mai | ABSENT



Sam Smith




Disability Advisory Panel

21 August 2023




1          Ngā Tamōtanga | Apologies


There were no apologies.




2          Te Whakapuaki i te Whai Pānga | Declaration of Interest


Members are reminded of the need to be vigilant to stand aside from decision making when a conflict arises between their role as a member and any private or other external interest they might have.


There were no declarations of interest.





3          Other Business





Meeting dates for the reminder of the 2022 - 2025 term


Ngā tūtohunga


That the Disability Advisory Panel:

a)          noted the meeting dates for the remainder of the 2022 – 2025 term:

·       Monday, 4 March 2024, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 15 April 2024, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 17 June 2024, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 5 August 2024, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 30 September 2024, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 25 November 2024, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 3 March 2025, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 28 April 2025, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 23 June 2025, 12.00pm

·       Monday, 4 August 2025, 12.00pm




At 2.32pm the interim Chairperson Martine Abel-Williamson vacated the chair in favour of Jonathan Benge, Co-Lead Officer of the Disability Advisory Panel.







Election of Disability Advisory Panel co-chairs for the 2022 - 2025 term


The following panel members were nominated for the Disability Advisory Panel co-chairs roles. Below is brief summary of interest for the co-chairs roles.

Martine Abel-Williamson, QSM

Kia ora koutou,

I wish to be considered for a co-chair role. I’ve been one during the previous panel term and can bring institutional knowledge and a sense of continuity if elected. Apart from having served on the previous Disability Advisory Panel, I worked for Auckland Council and other local government agencies for 11 years from 2007 to 2018 in roles covering disability strategy, policy and action plan design and community engagement across multiple issues and opportunities, so, I do understand very clearly what this role would entail, working along-side Auckland Council staff, as well as fellow panelists.

I’ve got a proven track record in meeting facilitation, effective time keeping management and being flexible when required.


Áine Kelly-Costello

I'd be delighted to take on the privilege and responsibility of co-chairing the disability advisory Panel this term.

Through many collective advocacy kaupapa over the years, I understand the importance of facilitation to keep meetings on track, ensure they're accessible for everyone to participate their best, and ensure everyone feels their contributions are heard and valued. I appreciate the co-chair model as I think shared leadership leads to more robust decision-making and also builds in greater flexibility to work to our capacities and strengths.

I value strong working relationships and will endeavour to foster these both between ourselves as panel members and with the Council staff and any other stakeholders we work alongside.

I know that as panelists we have diverse backgrounds, as indeed we collectively should. Having been immersed in disability community for a while, I'm committed to holding this breadth of perspective as a strength while guiding us towards consensus-based decisions when appropriate. As tangata tiriti, I will endeavour to ensure that we provide a receptive environment for the voices of tangata whenua panel members to come through strongly.


Barry de Geest

I wish to put my name forward for the position of Co-Chair of the Auckland Council Disability Advisory panel.

Diversity is a fantastic thing that can lead to creative solutions however often we may not agree. My style of Chairpersonship allows everyone to have the opportunity to have their say and allow the out-the-box solutions to develop.

My current roles as Director of Renaissance Group with 120 staff, Chairperson of Taikura, which supports 16,000 disabled people, and Board member of Workbridge, show I have the ability and skills to perform this role. I am well versed at creating a cohesive productive group which maximises the potential of people. I wish to encourage others, and be proactive, by utilising our lived experiences to make a positive difference to all disabled people in the Auckland area.

In previous roles I have been on the Auckland District Health Board, DPA and CCS boards as well as having worked for the Ministry of Health where in my role I advised the Minister of Health of disability issues.

With all my experiences I believe I can enable the panel to reach its potential and together accomplish great things.


Gerard Martin

I am putting myself forward as a co-chair for the disability Advisory Panel.

I bring a background of working within the panel for a term and a half and having benefited from the positive relationships developed with our Council colleagues. My lived experience has been from an acquired disability, gained in my 20s which opened opportunities to seeing the inequalities that exist for some that struggle to gain greater levels of independence that many of us take for granted.

I’m driven by making things better, be that strategically and by a pragmatic approach of improving on what has gone before. For the panel, I bring a grounding in collaborating and managing resources in government, not for profit and corporate settings, to achieve the best that we can from a sum of all that we as a panel can bring.  I’m keen to work to represent the skills and approach of the Panel - alongside our panel colleagues - in working with Council’s decision makers and influencers to improve the quality of life for us all.


Chris Orr

I have thought long and hard before putting myself forward as a candidate for the position of Co-chair of the Auckland Council Disability advisory Panel. I am confident that I have the requisite experience, knowledge and leadership skills to bring to the role.

I lost my sight as the result of a traumatic injury in 1974. I was an employee of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (Now known as blind Low Vision NZ.)for nearly 47 years. My roles there included:

·       Teaching Braille to newly blinded people:

·       Regional Fundraising manager:

Fundraising and PR Manager at the BLNVZ Guide Dog Service. Over the 20 plus years before my retirement I worked in the area Of Access and Awareness. This role included working closely with many local and regional councils. This included working on the development of both strategic and operational plans.

I believe the experience and knowledge of the workings of councils will stand me in good stead if I am successful in being elected as Co-Chair of the Auckland Council Disability Advisory Panel, I have a proven track record as a team player and leader in the Disability sector. I have worked alongside people with a lived experience of disability in the preparation of both strategic and operational plans.


I look forward to working with the other members of the panel to deliver quality information and guidance to Council staff over the term of the Panel.


Ngā tūtohunga


The Disability Advisory Panel:

a)      elected Martine Abel-Williamson, QSM and Barry de Geest as co-chairs for the 2022 – 2025 term.






The meeting was closed by Jonathan Benge, Co-Lead Officer of the Disability Advisory Panel.




3.00 pm                                              The interim chairperson thanked members for their attendance and attention to business and declared the meeting closed.










INTERIM CHAIRPERSON:..........................................