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About - The Hāpai Access Card

Where did the idea come from?

The idea of the Hāpai Access Card came out of a piece of work which was looking at the future activies of the Hāpai Foundation.  At the time the Hāpai Foundation was looking at how it could continue to fund its work with the intellectually disabled. (Note: since that time the Hāpai Foundation has increased its scope to include all disabled people).

Two consultants, Tim Jones and Loudon Keir - the people who went on to found the Hāpai Access Card - were doing research and working up some options when they came across the UK Access Card.  Following discussions with the associated UK NGO it was agreed that a version of the card should be launched in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Why is there a need for the card?

According to the New Zealand 2013 Disability Survey,  24 percent of the population were identified as disabled, a total then of 1.1 million people.  This means that a significant number face barriers to living their life.  For some there is little impact, but for others it has a major impact on their life.

The Social Model of Disability says that it is society that makes people disabled through putting barriers in their way.  A simple example is a business on the second floor that can only be accessed by stairs.  This means for people with mobility issues and cannot use stairs there is a barrier to access the products or services of that business.

The model goes on to say that it is society that can remove the barriers.  In this example a lift would remove the barrier, although that is not always a practical solution.

Based on the Social Model of Disability there is a need for society to examine itself, identify barriers and remove them.

The thing is that while there are plenty of physical barriers, the largest barriers are often related to attitude and lack of understanding. A survey done by Be.Lab of disabled people showed that of the top four things they wanted #1 was to be treated with respect, while #4 was physical access.

There is a need for society to be educated about both the physical accessibility plus attitudinal values and what can be done to reduce or eliminate them.

This is the place that the Hāpai Access Card sits.  At the most simplistic level the card is aimed at improving the experience of disabled customers when visiting an organisation.

Is it a charity or business?

The Hāpai Access Card is a charitable business working under the Hāpai  Foundation which is a New Zealand registered charity.  The business part is that a charge is made for each card issued, and organisations that join the card scheme pay for onboarding which includes the training of staff.  The charity part is that the establishment, growth and ongoing operations of the card can be supported through grant applications and donations.


The financial objective is that the organisation will be self-sufficient by 2025 with the hope being that there will be surplus funds to be used by the Hāpai Foundation.

How is it staffed?

The Hāpai Access Card is run by a mixture of full time, part-time and volunteer staff. The staff include disabled people, recent graduates and immigrants seeking work experience, retirees and people who are experienced in business and management.

Since beginning there have been 40 applications for volunteer positions and 30 people taken on.  The staff have included people from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, China, Chile, Brazil, Fiji, India, USA, UK, Australia and even New Zealand.

Big salaries and lavish expenses?

Unfortunately we are effectively a start-up business and as such we rely on the team making a sacrifice in pay. Unlike a non-charitable business staff cannot be given equity to compensate for the lower pay.  So they do what they do for the love of making a difference.


This does present us with challenges in employing people.  As our income grows we will look to pay at the going rate for NGOs in this sector. So you know where we are at here is an idea of our pay rates:

Senior Manager: NZ$25 per hour.
General Staff: Living Wage.


In terms of expenses, they are kept to a minimum.  The IT hardware is either donated from Christchurch City Council or is off-lease.  The majority of the software used is either free or at a discounted rate because we are a charity.  There is one office mobile phone which was donated by 2degrees, all other staff use their own phones and plans. (Note: legitimate expenses of staff are reimbursed).  The office is rented from Kilmarnock Enterprises at a very good rate.  All office furniture has been purchased secondhand or donated.

The accounts are audited each year and a financial statement that provides a lot of detail can found by looking up the Hāpai Foundation in the NZ Charities Register - number CC56454.

So despite what some people think no one is, or will make a killing from working at the Hāpai Access Card.

The Icon

Hapai Access HV symbol.png

The Hāpai icon was designed to show a group of H’s supporting each other, with a goal to achieve something bigger than the individual components. This refers to our desire to collaborate with the wider disability sector and partner organisations to make the most positive impact we can.  The circle symbolises how we all come together to create an ongoing cycle of improvement and betterment for our community.

The design can also be viewed as a group of V's linked together.  This represents the vitality of disabled people and their ability to make a contribution to society.

The Strap-Line

The strap-line 'Making Access Easier' links the Hāpai Access Card to the UK Access Card.  The two organisations share the same objective using a common method and also share a common software infrastructure for the issue and administration of the cards.

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