A great appointment

Mark Mitchell announced:

Disability advocate and former paralympian has been appointed as the ’s next Disability Rights Commissioner, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell announced today. …

“Ms Tesoriero has a significant record of working to increase awareness of disability issues. She is well informed on New Zealand’s international human rights standing and her legal background and understanding of the machinery of government will be advantageous in the context of the Commission’s work,” Mr Mitchell says. …

Ms Tesoriero created history with her world record-breaking time in the women’s 500m cycling time trial at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008, securing New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Games. Her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.

Ms Tesoriero also has a high profile in the disability sector, where she served as Deputy Chair of the NZ Artificial Limb Service and a Board member of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. She holds an LLB, BA, and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management qualifications.

This is a great appointment, and Paula will be awesome in this role.

I’ve known Paula since she was teenager. She was born with a rare condition that damaged three of her four limbs and led to her needing an artificial left leg. Her right leg has no ankle so she has to power her cycle purely with her thighs. And despite this she managed to set a world record gold medal time in the 2008 Paralympics through intense training around the clock.

So she is a great role model for what people can do, despite having a disability. But she also knows the barriers disabled people face and has been a staunch advocate for reducing barriers to participation for them – something which will be a key part of her new role.

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