People First started in New Zealand in the 1980s and was set up within IHC.

At a conference held in 1993 members spoke up about wanting to have their own organisation, with a National Committee – where they set the path and did the work.

IHC funded a steering group to set the path to independence and a National Committee was formed in 2003.

The National Committee was made up of:

  • 6 Regional Presidents (people with learning disability)
  • 2 advisors with expertise in social justice and the disability sector
  • and a Kaumatua or Maori elder.

This National Committee formed the governing body of People First New Zealand.  It means that the power of the organisation stays with people with learning disability.

On the 16th October 2003, the then-Minister for Disability Issues, Ruth Dyson, hosted People First at Parliament to launch it as an independent organisation. People First members came from all over the country to join the celebration.

Ruth Dyson’s speech at the launch

The Butterfly Express: 10 year anniversary edition