Dr Huhana Hickey supports call for Disability Issues Minister to step down

By Heeni Brown
  • Auckland

Disability advocates are backing Labour and the Greens call for the sector's minister to step down. It follows a tweet from Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner which said "Busy with Disabilities meetings in Auckland - rather be out on the harbour!".

For more than 40 years Dr Huhana Hickey has been an advocate for people with disabilities. She is also a person with a disability herself and suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Dr Hickey says, "Does she need to resign? Well I just don't think she can stay in the role. Whether she resigns or not is up to the Party but I just don't believe that she needs to be in this role anymore."

In response to her tweet made last Thursday MP Nicky Wagner says her comments were not intended to offend people with disabilities. 

Minister Wagner says, "I had a fantastic day in Auckland meeting with the Murray Halberg Trust, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, the New Zealand Artificial Limb Service and EMA on disability issues. It was a gorgeous day and we all would have rather had the meetings out on the harbour. I apologise for any offence I have caused to the disability community - that was certainly not my intention."

However, the response is not enough for 55-years-old Dr Hickey, who wants more people to stand up for people with disabilities.  

Dr Hickey says, "I believe that it's time we stop being complacent and allow these ministers to be inadequate in their job. If they lack the skills we need to tell them they lack the skills and we need to ask for skilled, passionate people to be in the rolls representing us."

Statistics New Zealand says 24 percent of the New Zealand population were identify as disabled, which is a total of 1.1 million people.