Mike Gourley

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Mike Gourley

Mike Gourley is a past president of Disabled Person's Assembly, during which time he attended the United Nations as a member of the NZ delegation, to debate the text of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Disability activism

Since 2003, Mike Gourley has served as president of the national federation of disabled organisations, the Disabled Persons Assembly.

He has hosted Radio NZ’s disability rights programme “Future Indicative” for several years and has been working on contract to National Radio since 1995.

Gourley has also worked for the Wellington College of Education as a lecturer in Disability Studies

In 2002, Disabilities Minister, Ruth Dyson appointed Gourley to an “Advisory Group to Work with New Zealand Government on Disability Strategy“. He is now president of that group.

The appointment of a reference group to the New Zealand Disability Strategy will ensure people with disabilities and other stakeholders are actively involved in developing the strategy, Minister for Disability Issues Ruth Dyson said on May 24. Ms Dyson is delighted with the high level of interest in the strategy, which will be a blueprint for future disability policy and services.

The New Zealand Disability Strategy is a top priority for the Government and the reference group will play an important role working alongside the project team, Ms Dyson says. It will provide advice on the consultation process, comment on draft proposals and feed information and sector views to the project team.


Mike Gourley grew up in Christchurch and in 1974, as a teen-ager, joined the Labour Party. He served as publicity officer for Labour’s youth advisory council and edited Labour Youth’s “Slant” magazine.

In 1975, at Canterbury University, Gourley was involved in Christian/socialist politics with Stuart Vogel and the Third World Action Group.

In 1976 Gourley attended study groups run by the pro-Soviet, Socialist Unity Party and in December that year attended the conference of the Trotskyist, Socialist Action League.

Gourley formally joined the SAL in 1977, but was still secretary of the St Albans and Canterbury University Labour Party branches and was employed full time by the Labour Party Supporter’s Fund.

While most SAL members were required to find manual jobs in factories and Freezing Works, Gourley’s physical handicap would have precluded this and by 1978 he was working as a social worker for the disabled.

Gourley kept active in the SAL well into the late ’80s, while working in Christchurch and Wellington.

In 1983, aged 26, he was the youngest section chairman in the Public Service Association, while working as a data processor, in the soil bureau of the DSIR.

At the time he was also involved in setting up network of physically handicapped people.

By 1988 Gourley was Wellington Disabilities Equal Opportunities Co-Ordinator in the Department of Social Welfare.

Gourley was still active in SAL (by then re-named the Communist League) as late as 1989, but by 1990, he had joined several ex-SAL members in Bill Logan’s ultra-radical “Permanent Revolution Group”.

In February that year Gourley wrote an article “1990 – Nothing to Celebrate” for Bolshevik Newsletter No 4, published by the PRG aligned, Victoria University Bolshevik Club.

“1990 signifies 150 years of grinding exploitation of working people, 150 years of oppression of Maori by a petty-imperialist pakeha state, 150 years of subordination of women and repression of gays and lesbians. . . That revolution cannot succeed without the mass mobilisation of Maori workers around a communist programme that addresses their specific cultural and material needs.”

In April 1990 Gourley was spokesman for a new activist group, “Common Ground” which aimed to unite people “discriminated against” and to get legislative protection for them.

In the Christchurch Press of April 28th 1990 Gourley was described as a spokesman for “Common Ground”, a coalition of groups wanting to be included under the human rights legislation . It was described as representing “humans who do not have rights under the law.” Gourley bemoaned the fact that “the law made it quite safe for an employer to deny someone a job because of a visual impairment, for example, or to ask during a job interview if people were gay or lesbian because of personal predjudice.”

Gourley was still involved with the Permanent Revolution Group as late as March 2002.