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Campaigners demand ‘companion card’ scheme in NZ

Campaigners in New Zealand are demanding the introduction of a ‘companion card’ scheme with event ticketing for disabled people.

A current programme in Australia offers discounts at concerts and sporting events for those accompanying a disable person.

The push from campaign groups comes after an Australian woman was told she was required to pay full price to take her disabled son to Cher’s Spark Arena concert. The woman said she would receive a discount in her home city for the same tour.

Richard Benge, the executive director of charitable trustc Arts Access Aotearoa, told NewsTalkZB that his group has been campaigning for this for the last seven years.

“There is a lot of venues around New Zealand that do want to honour some sort of companion card,” he said.

He added that denying a disabled person to bring a companion is denying them their human rights.

Arts Access Aotearoa’s main areas of focus are supporting disabled people to create and participate in art of all kinds; encouraging performing arts companies, venues, producers and artists to increase their accessibility; and facilitating arts-based rehabilitative projects and programmes in prisons.

According to Benge, the group is looking to encourage a discount over two seats, rather than “simply handing out freebies.”

As it stands in New Zealand, a couple of smaller venues have a companion card scheme in place. The Court Theatre in Christchurch and the Auckland Arts Festival offer this programme on their own.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage said they are currently leading research work on companion ticketing in New Zealand to get a clearer idea of the situation.

“One of the Government’s key priorities for the Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio is ensuring access and participation to cultural experiences for all New Zealanders,” the spokesperson said.

“The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is currently leading research work on companion ticketing in New Zealand to get a clearer idea of the situation here. The Ministry’s research will guide officials’ advice to Ministers on the best way to approach this issue in the New Zealand context.”

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