Studio 3A
109 Dominion Road
New Zealand

Parking Guide

Find out more

The D*List

Scroll to find out more

Ableism everywhere

In 2019, UMR Research revealed that: almost half of all disabled people in Aotearoa rate their life satisfaction poorly. Most New Zealanders have lower expectations of disabled people, and a quarter of New Zealanders don’t think they know a disabled person.

In 2021, in response to these findings, we partnered with the Human Rights Commission. Together we began to explore how social marketing might begin to address the unacceptable social inequities and attitudes experienced by disabled people in Aotearoa.

Disability magic

Disabled-led from the outset, we began our mahi under the working title ‘Project Mobilise’. Over 18 months, we held hui, talanoa, and workshops across the country to better understand the attitudes that exist towards disabled people and tāngata whaikaha in Aotearoa. During this phase, we listened to the perspectives of more than 200 people – including Deaf, disabled and nondisabled whānau; Māori; Pasifika; Queer; and young people. 

These conversations highlighted the impact of media narratives that reinforce tropes of tragedy and triumph, and conflate disability with deficit. Again and again we heard disabled people recount what it is like to make their way through the world being misunderstood.

But we also experienced the magic of disabled people coming together. At these gatherings, we shared relatable stories with one another – secure in our understanding that the other members of the group knew exactly how we felt.

An unapologetic movement

Reviewing our learnings, we asked ourselves: what will cut through generations of colonial, capitalist narratives about disability? It became clear that we couldn’t create yet another campaign for a nondisabled audience. This needed to be for us: a movement led by disabled people, for disabled people, celebrating our connections and intersections.

Navigating to a better world

The D*List has been design-led at every step of the way. Accessibility and inclusion were key throughout the process – from the discovery phase, through to naming, branding, and website development. We wanted to create something as unique, vibrant, and dynamic as the community it serves.

A critical design feature is held within The D*List’s name – which contains a tohuwhetū (asterisk). In Te Ao Māori, stars are indicators of time, navigation, and change. The D*List tohuwhetū serves the same purpose. It is a sign of transformation and a waypoint to a different world, one that emboldens our people.

In reo Pākehā, the asterisk suggests that something is conditional on a footnote or disclaimer. The D*List subverts this, reclaiming the footnote, shifting it to represent a position of power and a community made of many parts who are stronger together.

A home for disability culture

When The D*List launched, Duncan Greive, founder of independent media platform The Spinoff, commented: “I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a singular and brilliant idea so well articulated, scrutinised, and cared for.” Funders agreed. The D*List attracted sustainable funding, and now operates as its own entity. A team of disabled employees was established, alongside a network of content creators – nurturing storytelling capacity within the community.

Today, the D*List is proudly offering spaces, online and in real life, for disabled whānua to come together and bask in disabled kinship, disabled joy, and radical self-acceptance – fostering collective energy, hope, and action.