The members appointed are:
Consumer Advisory Group
Rebekah Corlett (Ngati Porou)
As a parent of an autistic 11 year old, Rebekah has used her background in journalism and public speaking to advocate for equitable opportunities and outcomes in education.
She has previously held positions as a consumer panel member for Autism NZ, and a board of trustees member for a specialist school.
Rebekah is currently a Governing Committee Member for Inclusive Education Action Group (IEAG) and an admin for the popular Facebook group VIPS – Equity in Education Facebook.
Rebekah has presented at Education and Workforce Select Committee, co-presented an NZEI workshop at their Inclusive Education Summit, and was keynote speaker at Autism NZ’s parliamentary breakfast for World Autism Day 2019.
As a non-autistic, Rebekah believes in amplifying the voices of autistics, and being an ally, not an advocate for the autistic community.
I opened myself to the world in an Altogether Autism Journal article. I own my struggle, but it is by no means unique to me; I haven’t met a peer yet who has not experienced some level of discrimination or difficulty in simply being them. We all have stories to tell. We can all relate.
Serving my people has been my vocation and passion for more than 10 years, leading to many wonderful collaborative efforts and achievements. Over the past five years I have presented workshops on Te Ao Whaitakiwātanga, The Autistic World; including as a part of iNDx in Dunedin 2019. In late 2018, alongside the upper-North Island autistic arts community, I had the privilege of curating an exhibition called INFINITY. We had over 10 entries in one day when the word got out, leading to a full show at the end of the year. Our ethos was, and is, simple; we are artists, creators, and want to be seen as such. We continue to defy the allistic view of us through our creative outlets.
In 2013-16 I had the fun experience of working alongside Hamilton City Council as a youth disability advisor with the Youth Council Advisory Panel; sharing the youth disability voice directly with Council. Presently, I am a board member of Voices From The Spectrum Charitable Trust, a charity set up by and for autistic adults who do not require supervisory care. Voices is independently/community funded and supported by a 100% autistic board. I also run workshops and presentations for corporate, clinical, non-profit and community groups.
When I’m not running around advocating alongside our disability community, I make music, DJ, collect things, design graphix, and study.
It is my pleasure to work alongside Altogether Autism to share our voice and make positive and groundbreaking changes for the Autistic communities in Aotearoa.
Mā mātou anō mātou e kōrero e hoa mā!
Noho ora mai.
Portrait drawing courtesy of Ammon Matthews Art.
Paul Freeman and his wife, Sharron, live in the Hawkes Bay. With a background in corporate management, Paul and Sharron recently decided to start their own business – Stim Craftsmanship – that creates products from retired wine barrels and recycled native timber in their home workshop.
Proudly part of a quirky family of three adult children, Paul was diagnosed on the spectrum in 2012, which came as no surprise to those around him as his youngest son had received the same diagnosis a couple of years earlier.
Paul is passionate about equality and rights for persons with disabilities of all types, and is currently a trustee for Sailability Hawkes Bay and the admin chair for Napier Sailing Club.
When not in the workshop, on the water, or supporting his wife Sharron with Bay Autism Support, Paul might be found relaxing with his dog Yoda.
Crystal Kire, Auckland
Crystal is of Te Rarawa, Ngāti Tahu/Ngāti Whaoa, Te Arawa descent. She lives in South Auckland and has a 14 year old son on the Autism Spectrum. Crystal has extensive work experience in the health and education sectors. In 2020 she switched roles from Hospital Play Specialist at Auckland Starship to Cultural Advisor at the Ministry of Education. Crystal is currently completing her Masters to develop a Māori framework for the assessment and development of autism. She is passionate about community service and volunteers across a variety of local projects and boards.
Betty Pulefolau-Kolose, MEdL, GradDipCareersDev
Betty’s journey with her eldest son on the Autism Spectrum was the inspiration behind setting up Pasifika Autism Support Group (PASG). Research has shown that Pasifika families do not take up assistance or support compare to other ethnic groups. Early support is significant to increase the benefits longer term. She currently sits on the Board for Fountain of Knowledge Trust and in 2010 Betty served on the Faiva Ora National Leadership Group. This group provided quality advice and support to the Ministry of Health with regard to Pacific disability perspective.
Betty presented “Pasifika Perspective of Autism” at the Altogether Autism Conference 2015 in Auckland and the Autism NZ Conference 2014 in Nelson. She has vast experience working in the tertiary sector. Betty is of Samoan descent from the villages of Salesatele, Falealili and Suifaga, Savaii.
Daniel grew up and was educated in the United Kingdom working for many years as a medical scientist in the health sector. He moved to New Zealand in 2008 to take up a role as a medical scientist, advancing to the role of technical specialist in immunohistochemistry.
Daniel is an autistic man and has a blended young family including six children diagnosed on the spectrum. He received his diagnosis at the same time as them when he was in his 30s.
Daniel joined the Consumer Reference Group after presenting lived experience at the Altogether Autism conference in Auckland in 2018. He has worked with Waikato Museum to help them create autism friendly evening for some exhibits and joined the living guidelines group who recommend updates to the New Zealand autism spectrum guidelines.
Daniel has given teacher training to some schools based on his experiences of education and unknowingly being on the spectrum. Read more
Ultra-enthusiastic TEDx speaker and multi-award winning writer, Jolene Stockman is the author of four books for young adults, winner of media, education, and business awards, and one of the youngest in the world to achieve the Distinguished Toastmaster Leadership Award. She is also tangata whaitakiwātanga; an autistic person.
Since her adult diagnosis, she has gone public with her experience – its challenges and superpowers, joining the board of innovative not-for-profit Autism Connex, speaking at the sold-out 2019 Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Singapore, and featuring in international media. In 2019, Jolene started using digital art to express and navigate the neurotypical world and her work was featured in a 2019 exhibition in New Zealand, and at the 2nd European Autism Congress 2020 in Budapest. As a working, married, autistic with two children and a degree, Jolene inspires and surprises listeners with how she sees the world, and the future of Autism. She is excited to raise understanding and optimism around autism.
Rachael Wiltshire was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was 12, and has been passionate about supporting others on the spectrum ever since. This passion has seen her present at the Altogether Autism conferences in 2015 and 2017, and at the Aspect Autism in Education conference in Brisbane in 2018.
Rachael is in her third year of a Commercial Dance degree at Te Auaha in Wellington – she has loved dancing since she took her first ballet class at the age of four, and hopes to dance overseas before moving into teaching or physiotherapy.
She is a dance tutor for StarJam, as well as working as a Visitor Services Host at Te Papa and Capital E. She also teaches at a local dance school, and tutors high school kids – she’s found that keeping busy is a great way to manage anxiety and ensure you get some social contact!