CCS Disability Action is a membership-based organisation and a registered charity, led by a National Board. Local governance committees, staff groups and local communities also guide our work.
Our National Office in Wellington is responsible for developing policy, setting and monitoring our standards and working with other organisations and government to change attitudes.
We run the Mobility Parking scheme which supports over 130,000 people to access their local towns and facilities more easily. Our fully owned subsidiary, Lifetime Design Ltd, advocates for and provides universal design guidelines to improve the accessibility of New Zealand housing. This will benefit all people throughout their life.
National Leadership Team
- Colene Herbert General Manager Midland Region
- Janine Hoete-Thornton General Manager Central Region
- Mel Smith General Manager Southern Region
- Tina Syme General Manager Northern Region
- Kate Single Human Resources Manager
- Mel Gamble National Manager, Marketing, Communications and Fundraising
- Sam Murray National Policy Coordinator
- Moira Geerkens National Training Coordinator
- Recenia Kaka Kaiaarahi-National Māori Development Coordinator
- Kellyanne Tong National Manager Quality, Contracts and Service Leadership
- Irene Wilson Executive Officer
- Debbie Ward National Disability Leadership Coordinator
- Linda Scott National Manager Finance
- Ann-Marie Fagan National Coordinator – Quality
- Geoff Penrose General Manager Lifetime Design Ltd
- Bernette Peters National Leader Intensive Family Services
David Matthews was appointed to the role of Chief Executive in September 2011.
David has worked for CCS Disability Action for 11 years - his previous roles were Regional Manager for the Upper South Region as well as Deputy Chief Executive. Before joining CCS Disability Action, he was a manager at a local and national level for Special Education Services, now part of the Ministry of Education.
David describes himself as a New Zealander born in England, is married to Helen and has three grown up children. He is a citizen of Christchurch and like other Christchurch residents is keen to play his part in the re-build of what was and will be a wonderful city and place to live.
Dairne Kirton National Board President
Tena Tatou Katoa
Ko Ngatokimatawhaoroa te waka
Ko Kamareiera te Tupuna
Ko Te Ramaroa te Maunga
Ko Whirinaki te Awa
Ko Moria te Marae
Ko Te Hikutu te Hapu
Ko Shaun Kirton me Jessie Morunga oku Matua
Ko Dairne Kirton Ahau
Dairne hails from a beautiful slice of heaven - Whirinaki in the Hokianga, Northland.
"My canoe is Ngatokimatawhaoroa, my chief Kamariera and his wife Peti, my mountain Te Ramaroa, my river Whirinaki, my Marae Moria, my tribe Ngaphui sub tribe Te Hikutu, my parents Shaun Kirton and Jessie Morunga.
I am a Maori woman with a physical disability; I was born with one arm and my palm consisting of three digits. I have 3 children and run my own business Life’s Abilities Coaching where I work as a Life Coach, Facilitator / Trainer and Motivational Speaker. Subsequently I have coached / mentored people from different cultures and communities so that people are empowered to live a life they love.
Although I am proud to be Maori, I believe in a rich and diverse community encapsulated in the CCS Disability Action vision 'Including All People'."
Since 2008, Dairne has been involved with CCS Disability Action. She has been a member of the CCS Disability Action Auckland Local Advisory Committee since July 2010 and the Northern Regional Representative since the 2011 National AGM and National Vice President since June 2014.
Pru lives in rural Wairarapa with her husband Neil. Both Neil and Pru became governance members on the Local committees of CCS Disability Action Wairarapa after their second daughter was born with Cerebral Palsy.
Pru has been a member the Wairarapa Local Advisory Commitee for a number of years and is now a regionally elected member on the CCS Disability Action Board representing members of the organisation who live in the Hononga Rawhiti Region (East Coast of the North Island). This is her second appointment to the Board.
Pru has served on a number of local committees in the Wairarapa which provide support for disabled people including Riding for the Disabled and the STARS Trust. She also organises the local Boccia group.
Still happily married to my darling of 27 years and a proud grandfather of many, growing up in a small Māori pa in Mangere Auckland has me firmly grounded. I have c5-6 tetraplegia as a result of a rugby league accident in March 1995 and am now dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. Support workers also assist me in living an active life.
After going through grief at my loss of ability, joining wheelchair rugby in 1996 gave me a great sense of personal achievement from adversity. This then inspired me to study in an area I am most passionate about – te reo Māori me ōna tikanga.
I am committed to volunteering my time and services to my home marae and am a strong advocate for Māori education, self-determination and the rights of all peoples with a disability. I am a Meta-Coach, specialising in Dismantling Disabilities although not active for some time because of other commitments.
Kōhanga Reo is my passion and my favourite sport is still rugby league. I am actively involved with my marae cultural activities as an adult wānanga pouako and kapa haka co-tutor whilst nurturing Tainuitanga, Waikato kawa and Te Kingitanga among our tamariki, mokopuna.
Rev Vicki Terrell lives with Cerebral Palsy.
She grew up in Auckland. Mount Street and Symonds St loomed large in Vicki’s formative years. Speech Therapy and other activities at Dadley Foundation, going to church at St Paul’s in Symonds Street and studying at Auckland University gave her a good grounding for life.
Vicki’s long association with CCS Disability Action started in the 1960s as a client receiving speech therapy and field officers’ services. The 1980’s saw her become politically active in the disability movement. Vicki moved to Wellington in the 1990s and was involved in work for CCS Disability Action. She was invited to join the Local Advisory Committee in Wellington in 1999. In 2003, Vicki was asked to apply for a Field Work position in Wellington. In late 2004 she was offered a position in policy in the National Office. One of her tasks was to facilitate the National Disabled Staff group. While training for the Anglican ministry Vicki took a break from active involvement but resumed it in 2012.
Describing disability and Christian faith as the two major strands in her life, Vicki is a Disability Community Chaplain and the Northern Elected Regional Representative to the national board. She is passionate about making the community a place where all people can flourish and reach their full potential in a world where attitudes and beliefs, as well as the built environment, are hospitable and accessible to all.
Vicki is the middle of three girls and enjoys connecting with family and friends.
I was born February 10th 1951 in Gisborne. In early November of the following year I contracted polio. I used callipers and crutches until the age of 11, after which I chose to use a wheelchair for mobility. My family and I received support from the East Coast Branch of the ‘Crippled Children Society’ through to my 16th birthday. This included visits from ‘Field Officers’, Mrs Dixon and Olive Hale
Thanks to generous fundraising efforts, in 1961 my mother and I travelled by sea to Great Britain where I underwent a series of spinal and other surgeries by Professor James at Princess Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh. After twelve months, more financial support came to our aid to get us home by air when the journey by sea was considered too difficult for me and because I had stayed so much longer there were no available berths on the ship.
In 1988 I was approached by a member of the CCS Disability Action National Board and invited to participate in a series of meetings with a group of other disabled people to help support and guide the organisation be more consumer driven. From there I joined the East Coast branch Committee and about the same time in the early 1990’s became President of the branch. I was a member of the branch LAC until I moved to Wellington with my wife Jenny O’Connor in 2000. I was elected to the national board and served during the period 1993 to 2002 encompassing the development of more consumer participation and bi-cultural policy leading up to the restructuring and rebranding of the whole NZCCS organisation. I have been serving on the Wellington Branch LAC/LEC of CCS Disability Action since 2003. In addition to my governance roles I continue to be involved in the music business. Most of my working life I have had various roles including music performance, recording production, promotion and retail.
Between 2003 and 2017 I worked with Capital & Coast District Health Board in various capacities. From 2003 -2009 I was the Disability Advisor – supporting the implementation of the NZ Disability Strategy and from 2009 – 2017 the Population Health Advisor – managing Tobacco Control, Healthy Lifestyle, Housing Insulation and other contracts-including a period of five years in the same role supporting the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs.
I look forward to using my skills and knowledge as I return to the national board to support CCS Disability Action branches as they move forward into the new model of support. CCS Disability Action has been a large part of my life since childhood and this makes me uniquely qualified to offer what I know from lived experience in order to enhance and improve our emphasis on person directed services.
Joy Gunn has joined the national board as regional representative for the Lower Southern region.
Joy was raised by a disabled mother and has a visual impairment. Joy is a passionate advocate for the work of CCS Disability Action and rights of disabled people. She was previously employed by the organisation as Southern Regional Manager, moving onto to work for the national office for a year before taking up a management role in local government. Previously she worked for central government and the Auckland District Health Board. She has been a consultant for non-profit organisations.
Joy brings a background in communications, and management to her national board role, and a strong understanding of the challenges and opportunities in working with local government to create positive change for disabled New Zealanders.
I have lived almost all of my life in Christchurch and am a proud Cantabrian! My partner Greg and I are the parents of four lovely men, one of whom, Alex, has Cerebral Palsy. My introduction to disability was well supported all those years ago through what was Crippled Children’s Society and I have continued to connect with the organisation over more than 30 years through Alex and more latterly both as an employee and currently in governance roles. The critical early support that we received and the connections that I made with other families all those years ago set the scene for us and assisted our journey with disability to be a largely positive one. I am still so grateful to those who mentored and supported us.
I have worked in the disability sector since 1997 in a number of roles, currently as National Coordinator for the NZ Foundation for Conductive Education. I am passionate about the rights of people with disabilities and their families to have a great life and choice and control over how this looks – we are all individuals!
I hope to utilise my passion and lived experience of disability, along with the views of the cross-section of people that I connect with through my work and in the community, to create positive change in the lives of the people that sit at the core of our work. This is challenging work at a time when the disability sector is constantly changing!
As a mother of 2 children based in the Waikato, my life changed forever when 5 years ago, my 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a life changing traumatic brain injury and consequently a high needs and complex lifelong disability.
During a lengthy, emotional and often overwhelming battle to access the services and support that my daughter and our whanau would need to allow her to be cared for with dignity and included in the community, I quickly realised there were some challenges around accessing support, fragmentation between services and ultimately the end purpose which is to deliver better outcomes for not only my situation but many others in the community.
Accessing over 30 services at any given time around the support of our daughter has been and continues to be, incredibly intense and I have first- hand knowledge and experience of the complexities of managing and juggling many different relationships in order to deliver the best possible outcome for a fulfilling life.
A “light bulb” moment and shift in perspective meant that I moved from a successful career in Marketing and Organisational Management to a role within the social sector around Information Technology. Working in the mental health, addictions and disability space and my own personal situation meant that I have established strong knowledge of service delivery, contracts, funding and not for profit organisations.
As a CCS Disability Action and Waikato LAC member, I have been able to be active in my advocacy and support for the organisation. Using the opportunity to align my skill set of communication, activation and belief opened up an opportunity to be nominated for the regionally elected role for the National Board.
I’m not afraid to get fully involved, ask the hard questions and with my high energy and incredibly resilient personality means that I have found strength in becoming the advocate for not only my daughter but other whanau. This enables me to speak out about our experience to challenge thinking, offer some objectivity and empathy, with the end objective to facilitate change.
I have active governance and advocacy experience with trustee roles on the Life Unlimited national board, Parent to Parent national board, a consumer advisor on the Health Care Home collaborative-Strengthening equity, co design and Maori engagement and I am also the recipient of the Institute of Directors Emerging Director- Disability.
I am able to bring a fresh, intuitive perspective on how the end user accesses supports and how service development and support services like CCS Disability Action can be developed to meet the needs of a culturally diverse Aotearoa.
“One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”-Maya Angelou.
Ngā mihi nui
Colene Herbert General Manager Midland Region
I hail from a little slice of paradise on the East Coast of the North Island…Ruatorea
I grew up truly walking in the fusion of Maori and Pakeha world views, fortunate to have Maori and English heritage. As the last of seven children, I learnt the value of sharing and contribution for the greater good.
I also grew in the richness of having a sibling with an intellectual disability. To say his presence in my life influenced my career pathway is an understatement.
I have spent 35 years working in the disability sector in a variety of roles and for a number of providers. My career started with the Psychopaedic nursing programme at Mangere Hospital and Training School in South Auckland as a 17 year old and has culminated in my inclusion in the CCS Disability Action whanau in 2017. All of my experiences in other roles has prepared me well for the rigours of general management.
I have three gorgeous sons who are my heart. I love entertaining and feeding people – ask me about my famous burnt sugar steamed pudding – its legendary.
Janine Hoete-Thornton General Manager Central Region
Kai arua Te Maunga
Waikaramihi Te Awa
Ngati Wai Te Hapu
Nga Puhi Te Iwi
Ko Janine Hoete-Thornton Toku Ingoa
Kia ora Koutou
I am the newly appointed General Manager for the Central Region from Wellington to Whanganui, Taranaki, Manawatu and Wairarapa.
I have been with CCS Disability Action since 2008, holding senior roles in a number of settings. I have worked in the Health and Disability Sector for 19 Years; my background has been in the area of Business Management and Human Services. What brought me to this organisation was that there was more autonomy to advocate and really make a difference in the lives of others – CCS Disability Action has allowed this to happen.
In my new role, it is the intention that a more strategic view of our service delivery, community development, networks and collaborations will be taken, while ensuring strong leadership at a local level, to provide services in a way that enhances self-direction for disabled people, their families/whanau and our wider communities.
Whanau is important to me: I have three wonderful children, two beautiful mokopuna, and a loving partner who make it possible for me to do the things I do.
“Whaia te iti Kahurangi ki te tuoho koe he maunga teitei”
Mel Smith General Manager Southern Region
My role is to support the running of the six entities in the South Island and to support local leadership to provide quality services to people in urban and rural areas around the island.
My association with CCS Disability Action began in 2000 when I was a student social worker at Otago University. During my placement I recognised how easily my values align with those of CCS Disability Action, and after graduation I joined the Southland branch as a Support Worker and then Community Worker (now Service Coordinator).
To alter my horizons, I moved to Western Australia to work at the Deaf Society, where I ran the employment and community services departments. A qualified sign language interpreter, I never thought when I moved to Australia that I would need to learn another language!
I saw the Team Leader role in Otago advertised in 2009 and came home to take up that position. When the region restructured, I also became Team Leader in Waitaki and later moved into the acting Regional Manager role. In October 2016 I commenced as the General Manager of the new Southern Region.
CCS Disability Action is a family affair for me. My Mum is a Service Coordinator in the Southland branch. I had my son while working as Team Leader in Otago and he came back to work with me at 11 weeks of age. My partner is a researcher at the Donald Beasley Institute and has partnered with us on projects. My stepdaughter is a student at Otago University. My work-home life divide can sometimes be a bit blurry, but I quite like that.
Tina Syme General Manager Northern Region
It has been my privilege to have worked in the health and disability sector over the past 30 years and still counting! With my background as a registered nurse, my early years were working in tertiary health settings and DHB but following the arrival of my children I made the transition to the community and Not-for-Profit sector and have never looked back.
What I love about working in the community is coming alongside people and families as a connector and advocate as by belonging to a community, people can access the supports and resources they need to live their lives to the fullest.
Working for CCS Disability Action aligns to those values as we seek to provide information support and advocacy so that every disabled person is included in the life of their family and community and I count it as a privilege to lead out on our vision across the Northern region.
Kate Single Human Resources Manager
I began work with CCS Disability Action in July 2014. Prior to that I was at home with pre-schoolers, and undertaking some work from home opportunities.
I graduated from Massey University in 2000 with a degree in Business Studies, major in Human Resources. Following graduation I worked for MidCentral District Health Board for many years in their HR team.
My role as HR Manager means I am responsible for the HR function within the organisation: setting up and reviewing policies relating to our Human Resources, managing employee risk, managing the employment relations function (including union negotiations and disciplinary investigations) and contributing to the National Leadership team.
I am Mum to four primary school aged children, and heavily involved in our school community as chairperson of our school parents and friends fundraising committee.
Mel Gamble National Manager, Marketing, Communications and Fundraising
I work for CCS Disability Action because I genuinely believe they make a real difference in the lives of real people, every day. My role supports our hard working staff and governance, and informs the way we talk to the world. It also supports all our wonderful supporters, without whom, we couldn’t carry out the vital work we do.
I was born in Melbourne, Australia and worked there in advertising and marketing, both as a writer-based Creative Director and a Direct Marketing and Fundraising specialist. I have worked on multiple projects for World Vision, ChildFund, the Salvation Army, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Guide Dogs, amongst others. I also spent six years working in Asia developing a start-up Ad Agency, to the point where it went global. My experience covers TV, radio, press and social media.
In 2007 I met my wonderful Kiwi husband and now call New Zealand home. I have twin sons, who are at University and a motley crew of rescue pets including dogs, cats and chooks.
I am passionate about altruism, philanthropy, philosophy, humanism, science, film and literature. I also write prose and poetry – some of which has been translated into French and Spanish online and some has been published in international journals.
Sam Murray National Policy Coordinator
I am the National Policy Coordinator at CCS Disability Action. I have worked in the disability sector for over 13 years and have a Master in Public Policy, a Master in International Studies, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Politics and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Religious Studies.
I help coordinate our advocacy to government. We are always pushing the government to do more to make New Zealand more inclusive of everyone. We do this through submissions, meetings with officials and by working with like-minded groups, individuals and organisations. We also always encourage people to advocate for themselves.
Currently, I live in Dunedin with my partner, two cats and two rabbits. I always enjoy talking policy so get in contact if you have any ideas about making New Zealand a more inclusive place.
Moira Geerkens National Training Coordinator
I am the National Coordinator of Training. My role is to support staff in the organisation with their education, through development, coordination and facilitation of our core training.
I first became involved in CCS Disability Action as a volunteer while I was at school. Since joining the organisation I have been a Team Leader in Northland, involved in national training for over 10 years and in my current role since 2014.
I have a belief in the work that the organisation does, in an organisation that’s always looking for what’s new and what’s next, and being able to be involved in small projects that make a real difference locally.
In 2015 I travelled to Canada on a scholarship around inclusive education. I am active in education, having been involved in a school board of trustees. Inclusive education is important and I believe all our schools should be able to cater for everyone, and not leave people behind.
A year ago my husband, son and I moved home to the Bay of Islands, where I have family. We are a sailing family, spending a lot of time close to or on the water. We are involved in a Kiwifruit orchard with extended family. I’m a traveller and explorer and like to have adventures while travelling – finding a little vineyard in Central Otago while walking along the river or seeing whales from my hotel window in Napier.
Recenia Kaka Kaiaarahi-National Māori Development Coordinator
Tena koutou katoa
Ko Te Ramaroa te maunga
Ko Te Hikutu te hapū
Ko Ngāpuhi te iwi
Ko Recenia Kāka tōku ingoa
Greetings to you all
My mountain is Te Ramaroa
My subtribe is Te Hikutu
My tribe is Ngāpuhi
My name is Recenia Kāka
I have a love and passion for kapa haka and people to live their life to the fullest. Providing spaces for individuals, whanau and community to have a voice and share what really makes a difference for them is important to me. I am a wife, mother and grandmother and whanau is at the centre of my universe. I have worked for CCS Disability Action for over 10 years. My current role is Kaiarahi – National Maori Development Co-ordinator.
Kei hea ra te Ao
No hea ra te Ao
Te Ao wiiwii
Te Ao waawaa
Tooku nei Puu
Tooku nei Ao
Te Mokopuutanga oo Rehua
Aanei te Ao, aanei te Waa
Where is this place, where is this space
It is a place and space
That resides within us
Where we choose
Moment by moment
Who will we be?
Ordinary or Extraordinary
Kellyanne Tong National Manager Quality, Contracts and Service Leadership
I was excited to join CCS Disability Action in mid- 2014 after more than a decade working in the sector. With a BA in Psychology and Criminology followed by Honours in Criminology, I have always been focused on Human Rights and the value of all people, as well as having a fascination for social systems. Getting to work within an organisation I have long admired for its strong advocacy and inclusive focus, something which echoes my own values, feels like coming home to me.
In the role of National Manager, Contracts, Quality and Service Leadership I am focused on continuing to support the efforts of our amazing service staff while encouraging person- directed services through quality initiatives and contract opportunities.
I am passionate about people having real choices in all areas of their lives and am motivated by the part CCS Disability Action plays in supporting peoples’ journeys towards the lives they want.
Irene Wilson Executive Officer
I am the Personal Assistant to the CE, and the Executive Assistant to the National Board.
My role is primarily providing administrative and secretarial support to the Chief Executive, National Board and Management.
I joined CCS Disability Action in 2012, after having previously worked in the areas of finance, event management, general administration and security programming.
I enjoy working for an organisation that has sound and strong values about making a difference in people’s lives. I continue to learn daily about what this looks like.
My family consists of four adult children and partners and I enjoy the challenge and richness of welcoming new members to our family, getting to know them and appreciating the diversity this brings to our growing family.
Debbie Ward National Disability Leadership Coordinator
Debbie is the National Disability Leadership Coordinator. Debbie has lived experience of disability and is committed to seeing disabled people being leaders of their own lives. Debbie grew up in Hastings, the fruit bowl of New Zealand. With the support of family and strong allies she has overcome barriers to have the same rights to education, employment and recreation as other New Zealanders. This has given Debbie a passion to advocate for disabled people to be valued and contributing members of society. Having worked in the disability sector for 30 years she has a particular interest in seeing diversity and inclusion in Workplaces. In her role, Debbie is committed to dispel the myths and assumptions about disabled people.
Geoff Penrose General Manager Lifetime Design Ltd
image to come
Geoff Penrose was appointed General Manager of Lifemark in 2014 and was previously the CEO of Qualmark New Zealand Ltd for 5 years and then spent 4 years working as a business consultant in Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
Geoff has a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a Master of Business Administration degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Economics. Geoff has worked in marketing, human resource and quality management positions in both the public and private sector and has lectured on organisational strategy. Since 2011, Geoff has volunteered as a member of the Assurance panel for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, a United Nations initiative that established and manages sustainable standards across 6 continents. Geoff has also been a member of the National Leadership team since July 2018, when Lifemark became a division of CCS Disability Action.
Geoff has two children, and is married to Kathryn, a criminal barrister, who specialises in the Alcohol and Other Drug treatment court at the Waitakere District Court.
Geoff’s focus is on business improvement, leadership and developing partnerships that drive change and make a difference.