Anzac day is one of national and personal importance and pride to all New Zealanders, including those with disabilities.
Natalie, who uses a wheelchair attended her local dawn service, something she has done frequently. She and her husband have always parked in the disability parks situated near the cenotaph. The increase in attendance at their local services has seen the rules around parking changed.
This year security guards insisted disabled people and the very elderly returned soldiers park on a grass verge at the bottom of a steep hill they had to climb to the cenotaph. This made attendance at the dawn service very stressful for Natalie and many others. Using a wheelchair on soft grass is impossible, as was walking for the elderly mobile. Several vehicles needed towing from the grass following the service.
Natalie suggested the use of Gobi Blocks to prevent damage to the grass and allowing those with mobility cards to park on the road would alleviate the many access difficulties she encountered. Provision of an accessible shuttle bus from a central destination is also an option.
An increase in the number of accessible parking spaces, even temporary, near cenotaphs is essential. Accessibility at Anzac services should be a legal requirement covered by legislation.
Image Attribution: ANZAC Day service at the National War Memorial by NZ Defence Force licensed under CC BY 2.0
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.