Panellist: Barry de Geest

A caucasian man (Barry) wearing a black vest and maroon shirt, smiles at the camera.

About Barry

Taikura Trust

With over 40 years championing disability rights and inclusion, Barry is a recognised authority in the disability sector  At 18 years old, a life-altering encounter with a day service sparked an unwavering commitment to championing disability rights throughout his entire life.

In the 80s, Barry held various roles at the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA), working alongside other individuals with lived experiences to establish Total Mobility, Teletext and movie theatre accessibility. During this time, he also helped organised the International Day of People with Disabilities in Aotearoa, which was mobilised for the first time by disabled people rather than service providers.

He played a key role in developing the early framework of needs assessment and service coordination with the Deputy Director for the Ministry of Health at the time. When he was part of the Health Advisory Committee, he helped established guidelines on how people can access health services.

One of Barry's proudest achievements is setting up Renaissance, a service that helps disabled people to find independence within their homes and out in their communities. He is also the founder of a company that builds all-terrain 4x4 wheelchairs that offer more mobility options.

He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events, where he shares his personal story and inspires others to overcome their own challenges. He was recently appointed to the Auckland Disability Advisory Committee, where he is eager to prioritise disability concerns at Auckland Council.