Alumna thrilled about success of pilot programme for people with disabilities

21 January 2022

Alumna Dr Bev Gatenby

University of Waikato alumna Dr Bev Gatenby has a love for people and community, an ethos that has underpinned her career for more than 30 years.

Bev’s list of career highlights is long, and includes lecturer, CEO of Trust Waikato, founding CEO of Community Waikato, consultant, board member, and latterly, facilitator of the Waikato Enabling Good Lives (EGL) Leadership Group.

EGL Waikato is a complete mind shift led by people with disabilities. The new way of working provides disabled people and their whānau choice and control over their lives and supports. Bev says she is honoured to be facilitating the Waikato Leadership Group for EGL.

“It’s been a gift to be involved with a group which is full of inspirational and outstanding people. It’s led us to the point of systemic change which will now be implemented throughout New Zealand over the next few years.”

Following a pilot programme, the implementation of EGL on a national scale was announced in October 2021 by Ministers Andrew Little and Carmel Sepuloni as part of the establishment of a new Ministry for Disabled People, with the Ministry leading the partnership between the disability community and the Government.

Bev also currently serves as a board member on Te Rāta Atawhai, the Charities Registration Board, an appointment by the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector. The board, a three-person statutory body, oversees registration and deregistration of the some 28,000 New Zealand charities.

In addition to her professional work in the community, Bev is passionate about supporting bereaved parents. In 1998 Bev wrote For the Rest of our Lives, a book to support parents who have lost a child, after she and her husband Chris experienced the tragic loss of their three-month-old daughter, and found there had been little support to help grieving parents.

“Having the understanding that actually, nothing makes a difference for parents who have lost a child is sometimes the very thing that helps. I still get messages from people to say how much the book means to them, and how important it is to know that someone else had been through the experience and survived.”

Outside of work, Bev, alongside Chris, have recently taken ownership of the TreeChurch and Gardens, a chapel made of living trees set in 2.5ha of gardens in Ohaupo. It’s a place of beauty, serenity, joy and nurturing, visited by many and host to many weddings and other celebrations – another way to offer nurturing gifts to people and communities.

Dr Bev Gatenby graduated with a Master of Philosophy (1990) and Doctor of Philosophy (2004) from the University of Waikato. She lectured at the University for 12 years and made a significant contribution to the development of the Bachelor of Communication and a Women in Management course.

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