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Sir Wilson Whineray Becomes Patron of Autism New Zealand

Media Release
11 April 2011

Sir Wilson Whineray Becomes Patron of Autism New Zealand

Autism New Zealand is proud to announce that Sir Wilson Whineray has agreed to become the first patron in the 42 year history of the organisation.

Sir Wilson’s long list of achievements are known to most New Zealanders and include being chairman of the board of Carter Holt Harvey, chairman of the Hilary Commission, the longest serving All Black captain and New Zealand Sportsman of the Year in 1965.

Sir Wilson understands the impact that Autism Spectrum Disorders have on New Zealand families and said “I am pleased to be able to be involved with the work that Autism New Zealand are doing in communities throughout this country. Autism is a condition that affects over 40,000 Kiwis and their families and yet it does not have the profile or support that it deserves. If my patronage can help to change attitudes then I will consider this a success.”

The President of Autism New Zealand, Wendy Duff, is thrilled that Sir Wilson has agreed to accept the role of patron. “New Zealand is a country of quiet heroes, this is something that we see amongst our membership every day, and this is a quality that is embodied by Sir Wilson Whineray. His leadership on the sports field and in business has become part of this country’s proud history and we are honoured that he has chosen to be involved in our organisation as we seek to raise awareness of autism and offer support to all those affected.”

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects a person’s behaviour, communication, socialising skills and sensory issues. It is called a spectrum disorder because it varies from person to person.

It is estimated that 1 in 100 people have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the incidence appears to be rising worldwide – that’s an estimated 40,000 New Zealanders! Worldwide surveys have shown that parents of children with autism suffer the highest stress levels of any condition, including terminal illness. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls.

Started in 1969, today Autism New Zealand has over 6,000 members made up of people with ASD, their family/whanau and health and education professionals. Autism New Zealand aims to provide support, resources and information on autism spectrum disorders to those with these conditions, their family/whanau, caregivers and professionals working with them.


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