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Published 16 May 2023

Media release from the Ministry of Justice.

Prudence Walker has been appointed as the new Te Kaihautū Tika Hauātanga Disability Rights Commissioner tasked with leading Te Kāhui Tika Tangata - the Human Rights Commission’s work in the area of disability rights, Secretary for Justice Andrew Kibblewhite announced today.

“Prudence Walker brings to this appointment a deep understanding of the issues facing disabled people, together with experience in advocacy or public education,” Mr Kibblewhite said, adding “I am confident she will make a very strong contribution promoting and defending the rights of the disabled in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Prudence Walker is currently the Chief Executive of the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) New Zealand.  As a disabled and queer woman, she comes from a strong social justice perspective and is deeply committed to working to achieve equity for disabled people and marginalised populations.  She also has a keen interest in intersecting identities and is an experienced facilitator with a specific history of working with young people, disabled people, and migrants.

Before her current role, she spent 11 years working for CCS Disability Action in a variety of roles, predominantly to do with disability leadership and rights. As a young person living with cancer, she was the National President of the organisation CanTeen. Prudence holds diplomas in human resource management and hospitality management, as well as certificates in te Reo Māori. She recently attended the Pacific Regional Conference on Disability representing the DPA and its members.

Prudence Walker takes up her five-year appointment on the 19th June.

The Disability Rights Commissioner position has been vacant since the departure of Paula Tesoriero who took on the role of chief executive of Whaikaha, Ministry of Disabled People in August 2022.

“Paula Tesoriero did an outstanding job of working to increase awareness of disability issues in Aotearoa New Zealand throughout her five years as a Commissioner,” Mr Kibblewhite added. 

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata – the Human Rights Commission is an independent Crown entity that works with Government and civil society to promote respect for human rights, encourage harmonious race relations and equal employment opportunities, and to resolve complaints about discrimination and related issues.