The PNZ Athletes’ Council is a consultative committee established by Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) in 2021 to act as the athletes’ voice within PNZ, providing governance and management advice on matters impacting on Paralympians and Para athletes.

Meet the PNZ Athletes’ Council

Chair, Sarah Ellington – Paralympian #213

I am a proud Paralympian. High performance sport has been a life changing experience for me. I have an empowering story that would inspire others to go that bit further, push that bit harder and try new things. I want to see more people, more active in New Zealand no matter their disability and would love to show anyone you can achieve greatness in your life no matter what. I am often seen as a leader by my work colleagues as well as my peers. I believe this is in part due to my gentle nature and good listening skills. I look forward to this opportunity to help with the Paralympic Movement.

Council member, Anna Grimaldi – Paralympian #195

My name is Anna Grimaldi, I’m a 24 years old Long jumper from Dunedin. I have attended two Paralympic Games and won the Women’s Long Jump T47 at both.

I’m passionate about the Paralympic Movement and want to help make this amazing community as big as possible. I can imagine how different my life would’ve been if I had known about the Paralympic Games and was able to look up to someone that was just like me – also disabled when I was growing up, sadly I feel like this is the story for many disabled children still and I’d love to have a hand in changing the way the disabled community is perceived and also help as many people get involved and feel accepted within the sporting community.

I feel like my experiences as an athlete range from good to not so good and I’d like to be part of making sure that future Paralympians and Para athletes are put in the best possible position to succeed.

I have made my best effort to meet as many people within the Paralympic community as possible which I hope would make me approachable to athletes should they need to discuss anything – I am open and willing to have conversations with anyone.

Council member, Michael Johnson – Paralympian #148

The reason for me wanting to be a member of the PNZ Athletes’ Council, is to ensure PNZ athletes finally have a voice and fair representation. Where athletes’ thoughts, feelings and needs are expressed and the athletes can have a place or person to turn to when they’re not heard, feeling upset or unfairly treated. Someone who has their back and best interests at heart, and someone who will support them when they need it.

For me, the PNZ Athletes’ Council is well overdue, and now is our chance to support current and future athletes on a journey to success. My experience includes being the athletes representative for 200+ Shooting Para sport athletes for 4 years with World Shooting Para Sport. I have been to five Paralympic Games. I’ve also just gone back on the Parafed Auckland* Board to help support all the up and coming athletes.
(* Parafed Auckland is now Disability Sport Auckland.)

Council member, Jacob Phillips – Paralympian #202

I have a passion for ensuring the disability voice is heard within our communities, especially in the context of athlete welfare. In regards to my governance experiences I was an inaugural member of the Halberg Youth Council where I served as chairman, and am a current member of the Parafed Waikato board. I have a good rapport with many Para athletes in New Zealand and I feel these connections alongside my governance experience will be a good set of skills to bring to the Council.

Council member, Anna Taylor – Paralympian #225

I am a proud Paralympian that is excited to promote the advancement of the Paralympic Movement in New Zealand.  I have ideas and experiences that will serve to benefit the Council.

I intend to be a strong advocate and voice for athletes. Promoting change where needed and providing problem solving skills.

I am a team player and I really look forward to the opportunity to serve as an athlete representative to support PNZ towards continued development of a successful, equitable and thriving environment for all.

Council member, Carl Murphy – Paralympian #189

I am honoured to be appointed to the Paralympics New Zealand Athletes’ Council. Being the only winter Paralympian on the Council I bring an additional set of skills, knowledge and perspective to the team. I am excited to fulfil the role and represent Para athletes and help pave the way to their success in and out of the sporting arenas.

I have competed at two Paralympic Winter Games (2014 & 2018) along with 10 years of international competition. During this period I managed a large part of my programme along with budgets and planning. I currently own and operate my own architectural design business bringing further experience in leadership, organisational and planning skills, project management, controlling budgets and communication.

Purpose of the PNZ Athletes’ Council

The purpose of the Athletes’ Council is to represent New Zealand Paralympians and Para athletes while empowering athlete participation and voice within New Zealand and the Paralympic Movement internationally, including:

  • Supporting the work of PNZ on all matters relating to Paralympic Games operations, performance, and policy, including providing advice and advancing projects that achieve Council and PNZ outcomes.
  • Representing Paralympians and Para athletes’ rights and interests and to participate in PNZ consultation and decision-making.
  • Safeguarding the balance between active Paralympians and Para athletes’ wellbeing and the performance requirements in high performance sport.
  • Connecting with other athletes’ Councils to discuss issues relating to active Paralympians and Para athletes within the Paralympic Movement.
  • Advocating for Paralympian and Para athlete voice in PNZ member organisations.

What we do

The PNZ Athletes’ Council will have input into the following PNZ activities:


  • Advocate for Paralympians and Para athletes.
  • Champion the right for equal opportunity for all disabled New Zealanders to be involved in sport.
  • Bring the New Zealand Para athlete perspective to national and international sporting issues.

Operational and strategic input

  • NZ Paralympic Team campaign development including:
    • Advisory on the Para athlete experience in the lead up to and at the Paralympic Games
    • Appoint Para athletes to consult on Paralympic Games uniform design
    • Advise on the Para Athletes’ Agreement for the Paralympic Games
    • Advise on marketing campaigns for the Paralympic Games
  • Advise on the following:
  • Para Athletes’ Agreement for PNZ Para Sport High Performance Programmes.
  • PNZ marketing and brand campaigns.
  • Welfare initiatives.
  • Classification initiatives.
  • Anti-doping education support.
  • Development of leadership and career pathways/opportunities for Para athletes.
  • PNZ strategy.
  • New PNZ programmes such as Paralympian Alumni, Para Sport Champions, Para Sport Collective.
  • Strategic development of the PNZ Athletes’ Council.

What are the responsibilities of PNZ Athletes’ Council Members?

  • Record minutes of the Council meeting and decisions, circulate these to the members of the Council, PNZ Chief Executive and PNZ Board, and approve them at the next Council meeting.
  • Ensure effective communication between the Council, Paralympians and Para athletes and PNZ.
  • Work within the annual budget to achieve the work plan of the Council.
  • Make their best effort to participate in all Council meetings either in person or virtually.

The Council meets not less than three times a year with one meeting aligning with the PNZ AGM. Meetings may be in person or virtually.

PNZ Athletes’ Council eligibility criteria

The Council comprises five elected members with the option to appoint two additional members if required. Members are elected by eligible Paralympians and Para athletes and appointed by the Council in consultation with the PNZ Board. 

Paralympians and Para athletes that are eligible to be elected members of the PNZ Athletes’ Council include:

  1. A Paralympian has represented New Zealand in at least one of the previous three (3) Paralympic Games (winter or summer).
  2. A Para athlete who has represented New Zealand at a World Championships, Commonwealth Games or other international competitions within the past twelve (12) years.
  3. All Paralympians and Para athletes must be at least 18 years of age, reside in New Zealand, and have not received any sanctions in relation to World anti-doping, or any sports betting or breach of rules/regulations.

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Contact us

If you would like to get in touch with the PNZ Athletes’ Council, or get more information, please email [email protected].