Winners Voting - 2021 People's Choice Accessible Business Awards


Please visit the 2021 People's Choice Accessible Business Awards registration webpage to attend the live-stream Awards ceremony!

People's Choice Accessible Business Awards logo

Welcome to the voting site where you get to choose the winners from each 'area of life' category, in the 2021 People's Choice Accessible Business Awards.

From 7 - 13 June, use the voting form at the bottom of this page to select the winners of your choice from the list of finalists in each category.

Please note:

  • You can only vote once for ONE winner out of the three finalists listed in each 'area of life' category.
  • 'Winner' votes must be cast 7 - 13 June inclusive in order to be eligible.
  • The finalist in each category receiving the highest number of votes will progress as the winner of that category, to be announced at the 2021 People’s Choice Accessible Business Awards Celebration.
  • Visit the Awards home page for more information.

And the 'area of life' category finalists are ...


1. Hāpara

"Hāpara's mission is to provide a seamless teaching and learning experience for teachers, students and parents whether at home or in the classroom by providing the visibility and organisation necessary for everyone to be on the same page."

2. The Forest School

"The Forest School takes the classroom outside into the natural environment and provides a safe place for its students to explore. It's helped lots of kids overcome their individual challenges and gain confidence.

The Forest School is free range learning! It's a place for our young ones to feel empowered and have lots of creativity and different ways to express themselves. A place where there is no stress, time to unwind from the stress of every day life, and be able to be kids, and gain confidence and build social skills.

The team at The Forest School have created a safe and inclusive space, unlike any other available in our area, that really defines community connection and whanau values to teach children valued life skills and stewardship of our environment. I believe they need acknowledgment of the effort they put into creating this school for our families as they go above and beyond what is required every day. Acknowledging their commitment to being part of our community would help to ensure the longevity of The Forest School and raise awareness of the need for such a valued asset in our community, and make it accessible to more families.

The Forest School is a one-day-a-week school where children go and can enjoy nature. It gives them a chance to reconnect with nature with learning new, lifelong skills. Takes them out of a noisy class room and into their own learning spaces to thrive. This is a local school to us that needs to keep going. They do amazing work for our children and our society. It gets children away from our technology driven world. It gives children the chance to learn new skills in a safe and supported learning environment."

3. St Mary's Catholic School Rotorua NZ

"I have two daughters [at St Mary's] with low vision who are supported by BLENNZ [Blind & Low Vision Education Network NZ]. St Mary's total ability to champion the needs of my daughters academically has been amazing. The teachers have always been open to adapting anything and everything to suit our daughters to ensure they achieve the same as their peers. It’s been an incredibly positive journey with the team at St Mary's. They have removed any stress, difficulties and barriers and as parents ensured our daughters simply grow in their academic ability and succeed with the right levels of support. Nothing has ever been difficult or a challenge. It is down to their openness to learn and not put barriers to change. An extremely supportive team at this school to children’s learning. It is because their approach both our daughters are doing well both academically. That is something to be proud of as a school."



1. Driving Miss Daisy Howick and Bucklands Beach

"Their service is impeccable. Drivers are highly trained to support the people with reduced mobility and their attitude is very welcoming."

2. FAB Drivers

"An assistance driving company of just two ladies, who take appointments like a taxi, but they bring me inside, wait with me, and will shop for me ... with me or without me. They are super friendly and obliging. Because I am blind, they take the pressure off me when I need to go anywhere. They never get stressed and do everything they can to make my life easier. Nothing seems to be too much trouble for them."

3. Transdev Wellington

"Transdev provide train transportation for the Wellington and Wairarapa Regions for people with disabilities including blindness. Transdev staff conduct a two hour training unit for all new staff to provide assistance for passengers who may require some help in boarding, finding a seat, getting off at the right destination and also exiting the railway station. They have awareness and accommodation of various disabilities, including the ability to handle equipment used by blind people. My guide dog and I accompany new staff to a platform where a train has been made available for each staff member to practice what has been learned in the earlier part of the training course. At all stages of this training programme, respect and consideration of the client is emphasized as being of the utmost importance."



1. Festival One Ltd - Soul Lounge

"Festival One is a family-friendly music festival held over Auckland Anniversary Weekend. At Festival One there is a place called the Soul Lounge. The Soul Lounge is a place where people with access needs can receive the help, care and support that they need while enjoying an amazing fun-filled weekend!"

"The [Festival One - Soul Lounge] community is super-inclusive and open to suggestions about how it can be improved. The crew are always ready to help and make things easier for families who have children with access needs."

2. Swim-Able NZ Charitable Trust

"Maxine [at Swim-Able NZ] has worked with my daughter who has cerebral palsy and does all she can to make it possible for her to access the pool's changing areas etc. [Maxine] also organizes triathlons, lake swims and the huka swim and other events to be entered by people with disabilities possible. She puts in a lot of time and effort into what she loves. My daughter did the Huka swim and loved it, something I thought would never even be possible but Maxine made it happen."

3. Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono

"In 2020, Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono began a three-year project to create a strategy around “how to create a sense of belonging and a more inclusive society in Aotearoa”. As they began the work of developing their new website to communicate the project results, they ensured that access issues were considered from the start ... During the research phase of the project, Inclusive Aotearoa travelled to 46 towns and cities to have conversations around belonging. They considered accessibility needs during the planning and delivery of these hui, as well as in their digital materials and website development. [This included accessible venues, language, communications, technology and accessible meetings, both in-person and online.]"



1. The Cookie Project

"The Cookie Project is a social enterprise that provides paid work experience for people with disabilities ... one in four Kiwis! The Cookie Project have generated over 3,000 employment hours over the past 2.5 years of their startup phase. In their next 'scaling up phase' they aim to generate an additional 10,000 employment hours over 3 years between 2021 and 2023."

2. Te Tuhi Café

"Aotearoa New Zealand’s first training café for people with intellectual disabilities, now open at Pakuranga’s contemporary art gallery, Te Tuhi. The café provides in-house training and paid employment for people with intellectual disabilities."

"The training café is an excellent stepping stone to learn new skills in a supportive environment. Te Tuhi café creates equal learning, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities."

3. Vector Limited

"Vector is leading the transformation of the energy sector to create a new energy future."

"Vector’s workforce is made up of individuals with many diverse skills, values, backgrounds and experiences. They believe that embracing the diversity of thought that exists within their organisation is key to unlocking innovation, driving engagement and connecting with customers to deliver better outcomes. Vector's motivation is to encourage a work environment where everyone feels included, respected and heard. A place that welcomes all ethnicities, genders, disabilities, ages, sexual orientations, races and religions. A place where people can bring their whole selves to work. Vector's passion for diversity and inclusion can be seen right throughout the organisation, starting at the top with the support of the Board of Directors. They are proud of their strong governance structure, which is driven by a Diversity Council, led by the Chief Executive and members of the leadership team."



1. ASB Bank

"For the past two years ASB has been integrating accessibility into their design system and testing plans, and raising awareness of access needs across the organisation. The ASB Accessibility Program has included: Staff Training to create awareness and provide training for staff about older and disabled customers; Accessibility Needs enhancing software and information delivery processes, to cater for older and disabled customers; ATMs, electronic banking services, ASB website, Online Banking and Mobile Apps reviewed for accessibility by external consultants Access Advisors, and incorporation of accessibility as part of the Digital 'Definition of Done' for all new Digital and Mobile components; ATM Providers providers continue to work and consult with organisations like UK Centre for Accessible Environments, Americans with Disabilities, the Royal Institute for the Blind in the UK and similar groups in Australia to ensure ATMs designs are inclusive; Digital Component Library used in ASB websites and mobile apps will be WCAG compliant to ensure baseline accessibility out-of-the-box; Testing Chapter applying detailed a11y criteria as part of their standard testing procedures, including text-to-voice elements and tags; New Design Practice making accessibility issues a priority and asking the question, 'How would someone with accessibility issues interact with this design?'"

2. Invercargill Workingmen's Club Inc

"This restaurant serves lunch and evening meals. We went on a Friday night which is Carvery. The menu isn't huge but the quality and selection is great. It is wheelchair accessible, it was easy to get to the table, which was at a really good height for the wheelchair. The servery wasn't set at my height but the staff were friendly and helpful. I have dietary challenges, which they easily managed. They even made me a special desert!!"

"In Southland, finding anywhere accessible for a meal is a challenge. Add finding a safe, yummy menu and it goes from challenging to almost too hard. The Workingmen's Club is not a five-star restaurant ... it's better than a five-star restaurant! They welcome everyone with warmth, smiles and encouragement. They are inclusive, which is very rare."

3. NextStep New Zealand

"NextStep New Zealand is a facility that is set up as a gym for anyone to use, no matter the disability. They have specialised staff that provide world-class exercise sessions to help improve lives. NextStep is the only place in New Zealand that does this."

"NextStep New Zealand provides a service like no other: thinking outside the box to help people with disabilities. They are very inclusive and make things possible for everyone with an amazing space and highly trained staff."



1. Skyscape

"Glass-roofed accommodation pods in the countryside with sweeping views of the Mackenzie Basin and a direct view of the famous Mackenzie dark sky."

"Bridget and Bevan have gone to enormous trouble to get an absolutely workable unit in a small space. Some real creativity has been put into the facilities to make it work for a person like me in a power chair. We could even use our hoist to move me!"

2. Te Papa

"A couple of years ago, I was a sighted guide for a blind person who was visiting New Zealand. I wanted to give them the tourist experience. I called the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington, and asked if they do sensory guided tours of the museum - turns out they do! The tour guide was knowledgeable, and knew what my guest needed to experience Te Papa. My guest had a great time, and we both learned a lot about Aotearoa New Zealand."

3. Te Tuhi Café

"An amazing training cafe .... well done Te Tuhi."

"I am nominating Te Tuhi Café for its outstanding forward thinking, [providing] equal opportunity to give those a little less-able to up skill in an amazing environment 🤗💞"



1. Access Advisors

"Access Advisors are a pan-disability digital accessibility consultancy. Their mission is to help New Zealand become more digitally inclusive."

"Access Advisors helped us significantly improve the accessibility of our website.  They also encouraged and resourced us to 'think accessible' across all of our platforms, communications and projects."

2. Ako Aotearoa

"Ako Aotearoa is leading an initiative that will benefit the 10% of the population who have dyslexia. Ako is developing and implementing a Dyslexia Friendly Quality Mark (DFQM), which is a set of standards of best practice in supporting tertiary learners who have dyslexia. Tertiary education organisations who meet the standard will be awarded the DFQM for a period of three years. Organisations who have the DFQM will be able to promote themselves as dyslexia friendly and be a safe place for people with dyslexia to study. Ako Aotearoa also provides training to up-skill tertiary tutors to better support the groups in New Zealand who do not do well in tertiary education. These groups include Maori, Pasifika and adults with low literacy and numeracy skills. Around 40% of Kiwis do not perform at peak levels in the workplace because they have literacy and/or numeracy deficits. Ako Aotearoa have made all their digital services accessible for all."

3. Toastmasters New Zealand North District 112

"Toastmasters encompasses individuals from every walk of life and is committed to building self confidence, communication and leadership skill-sets at the individual's own pace. Driven by volunteers only, they help individuals from all walks of life including, but not limited to, disabled and multi cultures."

"The District 112 Toastmasters website has undergone massive upgrades over the course of the past year. These upgrades have kept Accessibility requirements to the forefront and the inclusiveness that has resulted is both evident and appreciated."


1. Able

"[Able are about] making media accessible. It's as simple as that. Without Able putting the captions on my TV I wouldn't have known about the sudden [Covid] lockdowns or tsunami warnings. Able have really helped me through a crazy, crazy year by at least helping to make the information on TV available to me and everyone [with access needs]."

2. Laura James - Reporter, 1 News, TVNZ

"Laura often covers news related to communities with access needs. Her coverage of NZSL Week and also the story about the lack of lip reading visibility when people are wearing masks during Covid [lockdown restrictions]. Laura always highlights stories that trigger awareness about barriers to accessibility."

3. Maddy Lloyd - Reporter, 1 News, TVNZ

"TVNZ 1 News provides news on situations in New Zealand and around the world, as well as articles on items of interest, or concern.  In particular 1 News' coverage by Maddy Lloyd of the launch of the Hāpai Access Card. Maddy showed genuine interest in the issue of accessibility for people of disability and did an excellent job of creating a news article that was accurate and compelling viewing."

Please cast your winning votes 7 - 13 June using the form below.

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