There's always a welcome at Lee's place
“When someone knocks on the door to ask for some sugar, we always give more,” says Lee Taniwha (Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto), who is always ready to help his Accessible Properties neighbours in Auckland.
Lee, Nick Davis and Vaka Leha’uli live in Accessible Properties houses next to each other down a lane in South Auckland.
All three are wheelchair users and their homes have been built so it’s easy for them to get around, with wide halls and doorways and wet-area bathrooms.
Nominated by Nick, Lee has won an Accessible Properties Good Neighbour Award and he says they look out for each other. “We hang out and catch up, have barbeques, that sort of thing.”
A summertime accident at a family member’s pool when he was 13 is the reason Lee uses a wheelchair. Diving in, he hit the bottom and broke his neck, in an instant rewriting his future.
Before moving into his Accessible Properties home eight years ago, he lived with his dad. The only accessible room was his bedroom, making day-to-day activities much harder and more time-consuming.
Lee says it’s great to be able to get around his Accessible Properties home easily in his wheelchair.
Accessibility makes a huge difference to people’s lives and as a member of Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau Consumer Council and a disability advocate for Auckland Transport, Lee has done a lot to support much-needed change in disability services.
Change is part of Accessible Properties’ kaupapa too. We continue to increase the number of our properties that meet the needs of people with disabilities, helping build stronger communities where everyone has the opportunity to belong and thrive.
Caption: Lee Taniwha is the right kind of neighbour.
This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.
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