Posted on Friday 1st December, 2023

Key points 

  • This Sunday 3 December is International Day of Disabled Persons. 
  • A nationwide poll conducted by market research firm Ipsos shows 84% of Kiwis believe the country should be inclusive of disabled people, but only half that number, 42%, feel Aotearoa New Zealand is inclusive of disabled people. 
  • Sport can help bridge the gap: 75% of Kiwis say Paralympic sport increases pride in New Zealand, and 55% want to see more coverage of it. 
  • Paralympics New Zealand urges those involved in sport to use the day to reflect on how they can make their sport more inclusive. 

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) has released new research ahead of International Day of Disabled Persons this Sunday 3 December. The findings show that 84% of New Zealander’s believe we should have a society that is truly inclusive of disabled people, yet half believe that we are achieving this desired level of inclusion. The NZ Paralympic Team continues to have a strong impact on Kiwis, and with the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games ahead on the horizon, there is a clear call for more representation of disabled Kiwis on our screens. 

Paralympics New Zealand CEO Greg Warnecke explains: 

“We’re really excited about what this research shows us we can achieve. The results indicate that Para sport and the Paralympics are a pathway to better representation and inclusion of disabled people in New Zealand. PNZ’s goal is to change attitudes towards disability through showcasing the success of New Zealand’s Paralympians and Para athletes. Celebrating their achievements can shift the narrative around disability.” 

A day for reflecting on how we create more opportunities

PNZ urges those involved in sport to use the International Day of Disabled Persons to reflect on how they can make their sport more inclusive to disabled people. It can start with small steps. These could include publishing information about the opportunities available for disabled people or the accessibility features of venues. It could mean providing staff with disability awareness training. Or it could mean thinking about coaching approaches which include everyone. PNZ offers LevelUp, high quality training modules on coaching disabled athletes for sports coaches of all levels.  

Paralympian #164, multiple Paralympic Gold medallist and world champion, and world record holder Cameron Leslie is also Swimming New Zealand’s Disability and Para Swimming Participation Manager. He believes reflection is crucial – and change isn’t as hard or as costly as people think. 

“Taking the time to consider how we need to evolve our sport or club helps to create more opportunities and choice for disabled people. It provides greater options for participation and progression through the sporting pathway. 

“Evolving your sport or club isn’t as hard as people think and it often doesn’t have a cost associated like many think.” 

Paralympian #164 Cameron Leslie

Warnecke continues: 

“This is an important finding for Aotearoa New Zealand. Kiwis want to see better representation of disabled people in the media. They want to see more Paralympic sport on TV. One in 4 Kiwis is disabled – that’s 1.1 million of us. These survey results show a clear opportunity for sport to play a leading role in growing an inclusive Aotearoa.” 

 Over half (55%) want to see more Paralympic sport even if it comes at the expense of other sports coverage. The research also uncovers a desire for greater media representation of disabled people in general. 53% say we don’t see enough disabled people in New Zealand media. 

Warnecke believes that demand for Para sport opportunities will grow and grow over the coming months: 

“The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in August next year are a key moment for Aotearoa New Zealand. We know the visibility of the Paralympics inspires people to get into Para sport. We feel the excitement, the thrill, the pride when Kiwis excel on the world stage. 75% of New Zealanders today feel Paralympic sport increases a sense of pride in our country. Next year, we think that percentage is going to skyrocket with some of the incredible performances we’re going to see in Paris. It’s a great moment to take up a Para sport.” 

Survey data  

We don’t see enough disabled people in New Zealand media 
Agree a lot 26% 
Agree a little 27% 
Neutral 37% 
Disagree a little 7% 
Disagree a lot 3% 
  
In Aotearoa New Zealand, we should aspire to have a society which is truly inclusive of disabled people  
Agree a lot 61% 
Agree a little 23% 
Neutral 12% 
Disagree a little 2% 
Disagree a lot 1% 
  
In Aotearoa New Zealand, we have a society which is truly inclusive of disabled people  
Agree a lot 11% 
Agree a little 31% 
Neutral 30% 
Disagree a little 21% 
Disagree a lot 8% 
  
I want to see more media coverage of Paralympic sport, even if it means seeing less of other sport  
Agree a lot 29% 
Agree a little 26% 
Neutral 28% 
Disagree a little 8% 
Disagree a lot 6% 
Don’t know 3% 
  
How much do you agree or disagree that Paralympic sport helps increase a sense of pride in our country?  
Agree a lot 41% 
Agree a little 34% 
Neutral 17% 
Disagree a little 3% 
Disagree a lot 2% 
Don’t know 3% 
  
I like watching Paralympic sport  
Agree a lot 24% 
Agree a little 27% 
Neutral 30% 
Disagree a little 9% 
Disagree a lot 8% 
Don’t know 3% 

About the research 

The survey interviewed 1,148 New Zealanders in August 2023 via an online survey. The sample is representative of the New Zealand population by age, gender, ethnicity and region. 

Sample surveys may be subject to sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of the online surveys conducted is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. Here, they have a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points. More information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals.