Meet The Minister

By Joshua McKenzie-Brown

The next few years will be transformative for the disabled community. After decades of advocacy, we have a Ministry for Disabled People. The first in the world. Our voices are being heard. On the journey beside us is the new Minister for Disability Issues. The Hon. Priyanca Radhakrishnan.

The Minister strongly believes that “everyone should have the opportunity to live with dignity”. Taking on the portfolio of Disability Issues was a natural fit for her. 

Born in India, educated in Singapore, the Minister moved to NZ to complete her Master of Development Studies from Victoria University in Wellington. 

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is an experienced politician. She has spent much of her life fighting for the rights of domestic violence victims and advocating for the rights of exploited migrants. She’s rightly proud of having played a key role in establishing the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, providing crucial representation for communities lacking a voice. 

We met in her home electorate of Onehunga (Maungakiekie), Auckland. There’s a service provider for people with intellectual disabilities on the same road as her office. A visit later in the year is on the cards, she says. 

Confronting social inequity is something Minister Radhakrishnan feels strongly about. It’s what she was doing before entering Parliament and it’s what she’s doing now. The Minister is a social justice champion, and her other portfolios suggest this:


  • Community & Voluntary Sector - Minister
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities - Minister 
  • Social Development and Employment - Associate Minister 
  • Workplace Relations and Safety - Associate Minister


Her dedication to the communities she represents indicates the disabled community are lucky to have her in our corner. 

The Minister is here to listen. She has a family member - her mum - that lived with a severe disability. You can see how the struggle of this loved one to reintegrate into society is painful for her to recount. The Minister wants to find out what real New Zealanders with disabilities are going through at the grassroots level. She’s motivated to learn what the sector needs and to effect positive social change. She genuinely wants to hear from the disabled community. The good, the bad and the ugly.   



Despite having been in the role for only a short time, the Minister is already across the main issues. She’s well aware of the inequities in nearly every aspect of life for people with disabilities. Housing, Education, Employment, Health. These are the primary sectors in which disabled people want change. 

The Minister is looking forward to the nationwide rollout of Enabling Good Lives (a programme that lets the user decide how their disability funding should be spent) but cannot give me a date on when this will be complete. 

With her Employment Minister cap on, Radhakrishnan believes that changing attitudes is one way to create change for disabled people in this sector. It will be interesting to see what strategies she comes up with to deal with the unemployment gap between disabled and able bodied citizens. She says she will enquire as to a tip that Attitude received from within the healthcare sector that there are hundreds of people with disabilities in South Auckland who are unregistered with their District Health Board. The Minimum Wage Exemption is on her radar too, a deeply controversial issue. 

She’s on our side. Let’s embrace Minister Radhakrishnan as our voice in Parliament. Share your stories with her. Empower her to break down barriers on our behalf, as she has done with so many other marginalised and vulnerable demographics before us. 

Want to contact the new Minister for Disability Issues?


04 817 8735