1 June 2020
IHC New Zealand is delighted to see the well-deserved recognition of Maureen Wood (MNZM) and Neil Taylor (QSM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
“Both Maureen and Neil have made an extraordinary contribution over nearly a century between them to improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities,” says IHC New Zealand Chief Executive Ralph Jones.
“We are delighted to see such worthy recipients honoured in this way.”
Health and Disability campaigner Maureen Wood is a legend in West Auckland for her extraordinary commitment to people with intellectual disabilities and her community.
As a young mother Maureen challenged the medical establishment, which was separating disabled children from their parents, and for 60 years she has never stopped seizing opportunities to make people’s lives better.
Maureen and her husband Ted rejected institutional care for their daughter born in 1958 and joined IHC in 1961, supporting others to stand up to the pressure put on parents to have their children admitted to psychiatric and psychopaedic institutions. “The bond was broken with families and it’s very hard to get that bond back again,” Maureen said in 2011 on becoming an IHC New Zealand Life Member.
During the 1980s and 1990s she lobbied for the institutions to be closed and said she would have lobbied “forever” to see them shut down. She went on to work tirelessly to ensure quality in disability and health services and that the people using them have their say. She evaluated a range of residential and other disability services for auditing agencies contracted by the Ministry of Health from 2001 until early 2019.
As Chair of Waitakere Health Link, she campaigned hard for improvements at Waitakere Hospital including getting free ambulances in 2001 and getting a full 24-hour emergency service running at Waitakere Hospital ten years later.
Neil Taylor has been involved with IHC for more than 30 years and as an individual has generously given his time and expertise to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Taranaki and throughout New Zealand.
Neil joined a team of parents in South Taranaki in the early 1980s who fundraised tirelessly to provide the services their disabled children were missing out on. What made Neil unusual at that time was that he did not have a child with a disability, but he was determined to make lives better for individuals and families.
Neil was South Taranaki Branch President from 1986 to 1996. He has also served as IHC Vice President, and on the Board of both IHC and Accessible Properties Ltd, chairing the Audit & Finance committees of both organisations. He was the IHC Board Chair from 2017 until earlier this year and remains on that board.