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Passing Of Sir Robert Martin KNZM

People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi is deeply saddened by the passing of Life Member Sir Robert Martin KNZM.

Robert spent more than 40 years advocating for disability rights in New Zealand and internationally. He was an amazing leader and representative for people with learning disability and has been recognised around the world for his work towards disability rights in particular deinstitutionalisation, living in the community and supported decision making.

Ronnie Sione, People First NZ National Committee Chairperson says, “People First members and people with learning disability in New Zealand and around the world have sadly lost their leader.”

People First NZ became an independent organisation in 2003 with Sir Robert being one of the original People First members. He was highly respected by the members and staff of People First and led by example by encouraging members to speak up about their rights, demand action and take up leadership roles.

In 2008 Sir Robert was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to people with disabilities.

In 2016 Sir Robert Martin was elected as an independent expert to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). His election was historical with him being the first person with a learning disability elected to the United Nations Treaty Body.

In 2020 Sir Robert was re-elected for another 4-year term. At the time of his passing Robert was still active in his role on the Committee. In 2020 he was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Sir Robert travelled internationally with his work creating change in policies and practices which have made a positive difference for disabled people.

We send our sincere condolences to Sir Robert’s wife Lady Lynda, his family and friends.

He mihi aroha / with love and sympathy.

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