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Zandra Vaccarino

National Executive Officer

[email protected]
06 353 7078 or
0800 693 724 press 1

I have called New Zealand my home for over twenty years, but I also value my Italian and South African heritage. My tūrangawaewae, or my place to stand, is in Palmerston North where I have lived for more than two decades. My whānau, is my taonga.

Just over 29 years ago, my son Vincenzo was born with Down syndrome, and that’s when I became involved in the Down syndrome community. It all commenced with a simple request for assistance during a coffee group gathering—a moment that unexpectedly propelled me into volunteering and working for the Down Syndrome community both in South Africa and New Zealand. This year, marks my 20th anniversary working for the NZDSA.

Working alongside people with Down syndrome, their parents, and whānau is a privilege as we strive to achieve the NZDSA’s vision that all people with Down syndrome are respected, valued, and equal members of their communities, fulfilling their potential and aspirations. I describe myself as a social justice advocate, committed to Enabling Good Lives. My lived experience of having a son and daughter-in-love (law) with Down syndrome informs my practice and systemic advocacy. I am empowered and inspired by the wisdom, knowledge and experience of our members with Down syndrome, their parents, and whānau.