About Autism New Zealand

Our Vision: Empowering people living with autism.

View our strategy plan document.


In 1966 Dr Mildred Creek visited New Zealand. In the twenty odd years since Kanner had identified and named the syndrome of autism, little information had reached New Zealand. There were few medical specialists in child psychiatry and developmental medicine, diagnoses were usually tentative and dedicated treatment services were nonexistent.

Dr Creek was an acknowledged expert and came to New Zealand to examine children and teach. She saw children in Wellington, Christchurch, Palmerston North and Dunedin, confirming the diagnoses and informing families that societies of parents had been formed in the USA, UK and parts of Australia.

Marion Bruce met the Australian parents in 1967 and started her search in New Zealand for children whom somebody had said were 'autistic'.

By 1969, sufficient families had been tracked through IHC, the psychopaedic institutions and the Child Health Clinics to consider forming a Parents Association. An approach was made to the then President of IHC, Dr Donald Beasley, who felt that initially a parent body might be established as a subcommittee under IHC and asked Dr Terry Caseley of Christchurch to convene a meeting.

Nine families were represented at the first meeting and agreed to become a subcommittee of IHC.

The first newsletter was published in February 1970.

The Association became an Incorporated Society in 1995 and has continued to grow from strength to strength.

The membership is now over 6,300 and comprises of parents/caregivers, schools, professionals working in or having interest in the field of autism spectrum disorders, and other service workers.


Autism New Zealand Inc. is an incorporated society with charitable status. Its trusts and powers are laid down in it's constitution which states the organisation's objectives.

How it Works

Our membership numbers over 6,300 members.

Members elect an Executive committee of five and a President. The President and all members of the National Executive Committee, including all office bearers, shall hold office for a period of three years, with members retiring on a rotational basis.

Autism New Zealand Inc. employs a full time Chief Executive who employs all other staff. The National Office is based in Wellington with the national Library and 0800 services operating from Christchurch.


There are currently sixteen Branches of the Society, situated in:

  1. Northland
  2. Auckland
  3. Waikato
  4. Bay of Plenty
  5. Hawke's Bay
  6. Taranaki
  7. Gisborne
  8. Taupo
  9. Wanganui
  10. Wellington
  11. Wairarapa
  12. Manawatu
  13. Nelson/Marlborough
  14. Canterbury/West Coast
  15. Otago
  16. Southland

Click here for branch informationThese branches are run by professionals and supported by volunteers. Each branch offers various levels of support, including holiday programmes, music therapy, social skills programmes, coffee mornings, regular meetings with guest speakers, and pre-school support.


Funding of activities is through various grants from charitable trusts, as well as contracts from government departments for specific programmes.

Autism New Zealand Inc. endeavours to hold an annual fundraising event which is supported by its members.

Donations are an important part in assisting this organisation to continue it's work. Donations from members and the community are always appreciated and acknowledged.


We have different types of membership to suit everyone’s circumstances – general membership or financial membership for families, individuals and organisations. Please click here for more information.