Cherryl Thompson

Ko Aotea te Waka

Ko Taranaki te Maunga

Ko Tangahoe te Awa  

Ko Toi te Taniwha

Ko Ngati Ruanui te Iwi

Ko Taiporohenui te Pa

Anei, he mokopuna e

“Accessibility is about more than ramps, sound systems, larger print or accessible toilets, it’s about welcoming people as they are.”

I am based in the North Island and currently live in the sunny Bay of Plenty. Mine is a life and career devoted to improving the lives of others.

Relationships are the key to success in everything. Building and maintaining trust supports strong, lasting relationships.

My years of experience and knowledge in training community groups and sports organisations to fully include people living with disability means I can operate ‘on the fly’ and thereby create immediate solutions and adaptations for groups and individuals. Helping people and organisations get early success means that I can achieve ‘buy in’ and can move short term solutions to the medium and long term more quickly which results in success and cost savings for organisations. I have supported many planners and leaders to factor in the needs of people with physical impairments or neurodiversity, so they could happily take part in activities alongside their peers.

Raised in a sporting family, I started swimming in my primary years, initially as a form of rehabilitation after being diagnosed with Polio in one leg. I went on to compete in New Zealand and overseas. By secondary school I was  a junior representative for Auckland Basketball and later became a coach in both basketball and swimming, specialising in coaching athletes with a disability at both regional and national levels.                                                 

My academic life started in my mid thirties, following the birth of my seventh and last child. Education became important to me because I realised the inequalities facing my children and that having a robust and rounded learning after their kohanga years would give them a strong foundation to face a world not always welcoming of them.

I am of the generation where my parents’ generation were discouraged to speak Te Reo Maori and my children’s generation who are fluent in both Te Reo Maori and English. I am somewhere in between, with increasing fluency in Te Reo Maori.

Whilst living in the Bay of Islands for 20 years, I became Education Officer at the Waiting Treaty Grounds and under the guidance of our Kaumatua assisted in offsite talks covering the Northern Wars sites. These years gave me a good grounding
for learning about people, history, storytelling and taking on information in the context of the time.

I worked for the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation for over ten years and was its National Maori Adviser. I am a founding member of the Regional Maori Advisory Board for Sport Bay of Plenty and a current member of Tapoi Maori o Tauranga Moana – a collaboration of Maori Owner Operators.

My projects, since leaving Halberg have been varied and range from leading the Cultural Heritage and History Education
programmes  based at Te Papa, Tauranga, organising and conducting Maori welcomes and tours for people arriving from Cruise Ships, and leading a Liability inclusion project for the Anglican Church which spans NZ and the Pacific Islands.

Read more about Cherryl here

My passion is people, especially whanau and friends. Everything else is just material.