Te Mahau Advisory for Young People with Disabilities

Our vision is an inclusive education system where all learners get an excellent education, and where they can progress and achieve their full potential.


What is the Advisory for Young People with Disabilities?

The Advisory for Young People with Disabilities (AYPD) is a way for us to ensure the voice and experience of disabled youth is considered in the design and delivery of the education system.

The advisory group is made up of 12 young people (18-26 years old) who have lived experience of disability.

The advisory meets in Wellington up to three times a year to:

  • provide advice on programmes, projects, and policies to Te Mahau staff and teams
  • share their insights, perspectives, and experiences in education.

The purpose of the advisory group

The purpose of AYPD is to:

  • provide a platform for staff and teams in Te Mahau to access the views, perspectives, and voices of young people with lived experiences of disability
  • give disabled youth the opportunity to advise Te Mahau on important matters that affect them in education
  • provide insights that can be integrated into the wider education system.

Meet the advisory group members

Catherine Pot

24, Wellington

photo of Catherine

Hi, my name is Catherine Pott. I am currently a PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington, where I have previously completed my Bachelors and Bachelors with Honours. I went straight from high school to university and have really enjoyed my studies. It means a lot to be selected as a representative on this advisory committee as it is not something I ever imagined myself doing. I hope that I will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the group. I really love being able to support others who are studying in the same areas as I am and are interested in continuing their education.

Amy Clements

23, Auckland

photo of Amy

Hi, my name is Amy Clements. I have experienced a physical disability since childhood. I experience a central nervous system disorder that causes severe chronic pain and fatigue as well as mild muscle and joint weakness. As a result, I use a walking cane to mobilize. This caused me many difficulties during my primary and high school education. I am now a communications student at Massey University. I am grateful for an opportunity to be a member of this panel, and I am excited to be able to use my experiences as a disabled student to inform positive change. Issues I am particularly passionate about regarding education include a wider range testing accommodations for disabled students and more training for teachers surrounding the teaching disabled students. I am a passionate disability rights activist. My activism journey started on social media when I was a teen, and during my first few years of University I was privileged to publish over a dozen articles sharing my experiences growing up with a physical disability on a chronic illness and disability awareness website.

Jackson Ataaere

23, Auckland

photo of Jackson

Kia ora, I am Jackson Ataaere. I attended Oaklynn Special School. I started in 2004 and left in 2020. Being able to have input into the ever-evolving education system of our great nation makes me feel really honored. I hope what I have to offer will help disabled youth to have a better experience in education. I am passionate about discussing topics, be it political or societal issues. I really like art and creating digital and physical art.

Alix Gibson

19, Dunedin

photo of Alix

Hi, my name is Alix Gibson. I always loved learning and school, but I had a really hard time receiving accommodation that I needed. I struggled a lot due to chronic illness in high school. I'm now studying genetics and Neuroscience at Otago, which is going significantly better. Being selected as a member of this advisory means that I will be able to use my lived experience as a disabled student to inform the Ministry of Education on how education can be made more accessible for current and future students. I'm passionate about combining medical research and disability rights to ensure that disabled people get the support and research they want and need.

Kate Harpur

26, Hamilton

Hi my name is Kate Harpur. I am excited about this opportunity to walk alongside the shift with the Ministry of Education that will support disabled students. I have a physical disability and because of this, I was placed in the ‘too hard basket’ and was not given the same rights as others such as taking physical education as one of my subjects. When I moved schools, I was allowed to take physical education, adapted an NCEA standard, and achieved it with merit. I am passionate about further education for teachers around disabilities, which allows disabled students the same rights as non-disabled people. I am passionate about advocating for vulnerable people and encouraging policies that allow for inclusivity for all people. I developed this passion through my own lived experience.

Emily Osborne

20, Lincoln


Hello, my name is Emily Osborne. I am currently in my second year of a bachelors of science at Lincoln University, majoring in Food science. I have had chronic illness most of my life, but it got significantly worse in my late secondary school years. I was homeschooled for all of primary and secondary school, so I have a unique experience with the education system. I was so excited to be accepted as a representative on this advisory group! I am honored to be able to use my experiences to help improve education for all. I am passionate about education being accessible, inclusive, and encouraging of all students regardless of their ability. Outside of study I enjoy reading, playing board games with my friends, fencing (the sword kind, not the building a wall kind), cooking, and music.

Nikita Van Dijk

23, Taupō


Hi, I'm Nikita Van Dijk. I was a foundation student at Hobsonville Point Secondary School prior to moving to Taupo and completing my secondary education via correspondence schooling due to complex health issues. I then went straight to university where I obtained my Bachelors of Arts double majoring in Psychology and Anthropology. I am now undertaking a Masters of Disability and Inclusion Studies at the University of Waikato. It means the world to me to have been selected to be a representative on this advisory. To be able to advocate for the needs of disabled students within education while working with an incredible group of people is an extremely exciting opportunity and one I intend to fully embrace! I am incredibly passionate about raising awareness for rare diseases. I am also fond of martial arts, having practiced martial arts for most of my life. The multitude of ways that martial arts helps both the mind and the body is fascinating, and its a great outlet. 

Deanna Chanel Rogers

24, Palmerston North


Hello, my name is Deanna Chanel Rogers. I went to Freyberg High School (Deaf Centre) in 2012 for 6 years in a half and then went at van Asch Deaf Education Centre for 2 or 3 years until I turned 21. I moved back to Palmerston North and lived with my mum. Now, I live on my own. I am happy I am part of this advisory group. I will use my experience of Education to enable people with different abilities to have greater positive attitudes and experiences even better than what I have experienced throughout my schooling years. I like to be treated as a normal person and included fairly in a Mana Enhancing and inclusive way that includes all abilities. I recognise that we are all different and all have different needs and abilities. I like to be active and moving around. I enjoy listening to music, cooking, camping and travelling.

Daniel Kelly

24, Auckland


My name is Daniel Kelly. I'm a Primary-Trained Kaiako, currently working in the Secondary School Sector and teaching at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Having gone through the systems our current Rangatahi navigate, I understand the many ups and downs. I want to influence, challenge systems for better and equitable outcomes. As a member of this rōpu, it means that I can make a meaningful change. A change for those who otherwise cannot take those steps. My principled positioning allows me to move forward in this space with Pono, Tika and Arō Hā. I'm passionate about Rangatahi. Any chance to make a change, I'm there! Why? Because my Tūpuna tell me so. Outside of study, I love reading, Travelling, Music and Cooking!

Ayolabi Martins

18, Auckland


Hi, I'm Ayolabi Martins. I had a pretty uneventful but joyous ride through daycare, primary and intermediate; because of this I was able to pick up a range of sporting and musical activities. However, early on in high school I began noticing that I had major struggles with reading small scripts of text, hand-writing and even walking to my classes. Because of the unrelenting bullying that ensued, I changed schools and received an ample amount of both physical and mental support for my rapidly deteriorating condition. I see it as a great honour and privilege to have been selected as a representative on this advisory committee because I believe I have ample experience to share and pass-on to help and improve the education standards and experiences of other disabled individuals. I am extremely passionate about politics and I love advocating for issues that matter to generally marginalised New Zealanders. I feel that strong, vocal advocacy through any means necessary acts as an echo that allows Parliament especially to gauge how important certain issues are to various communities. Outside of study, I'm a huge sneaker-head and love learning about the details and intricacies of various sneaker designs. 

Phoebe Awhina Grey

20, Christchurch


Hello, my name is Phoebe Awhina Grey. I am a current full-time student at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha studying towards a degree in Māori and Indigenous Studies. It means a lot to me to be a part of a kaupapa like this as I represent those with hidden disabilities, and it feels great to be a part of something like this. I am excited to use my voice to speak up for rangatahi with disabilities. My passion lies within te ao Māori and sharing my culture with others. It is such a large part of who I am and I do my best to incorporate it into everything that I do.

Matakorama Waipouri

19, Auckland


Kia ora. My full name is Matakorama Matire Erica Petal Priscilla Petra Waipouri but I prefer to be known as Matakorama Waipouri. I’m honoured to be one of the newest members of With AYPD. It is legitimately a big dream that has come true. My adventure with Education has had its challenges and good times. When I was at school, I struggled with schoolwork because I was funded with a certain amount of funding from ORS, including my teacher aide hours being cut short. Also I was in the hospital a lot because I had tons of operations from a very young age and almost until now. Equality for proper education for disabled individuals needs to be changed ASAP! The one thing I’m passionate about is mental health because I feel this generation has been struggling a lot with their inner mind. It is hard because we are so busy with our daily lifestyle and social media. Outside of study, I like writing in my journal and doing makeup tutorials to post on my channel. I like spending quality time with family and friends.

Advisory group expectations and responsibilities

Members are supported and will learn new skills. But they need to be confident and comfortable:

  • working with other people and in a team
  • sharing their own perspectives
  • communicating their ideas.

Members are expected to:

  • attend all hui for the duration of their membership, which is two years  
  • receive and reply to emails or phone and video calls from the Secretariat and/or Facilitator
  • complete any work set for them in between hui.

Check Te Mahau Advisory for Young People with Disabilities' terms of reference.

Terms of reference

More information

If you have questions about the Advisory for Young People with Disabilities, email:


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