Our History

With every step together, we grow stronger

Autism New Zealand has been a part of the autism community for over 50 years and has become a well established organisation with 16 branches offering information and support as well as delivering education courses nationwide.

In 1966 Dr Mildred Creek, an acknowledged autism expert, visited New Zealand. At the time, there were few medical specialists in child psychiatry; diagnoses were usually tentative, and dedicated treatment services were non-existent.

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.

One of those New Zealand children she diagnosed was the son of Marion Bruce. Marion later went to an autism conference in Adelaide in 1967 and while there met with Australian parents of autistic children. On her return she started her search in New Zealand for autistic children and their families.

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 Marion Bruce was a foundation member of that subcommittee; she passed away on 25 February 2016 at the age of 90.

The first newsletter was published in February 1970.

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

Autism New Zealand employs a full time Chief Executive who employs all other staff. The National Office is based in Wellington and there are branches nationwide. Its trusts and powers are laid down in its constitution which states the organisation’s objectives.


Autism New Zealand has over 24,000 active members which continue to grow. Contact us for a membership form to join as a general or financial member. Membership enables you to receive our information kit, ongoing contact with an Outreach Coordinator, access to local support groups, newsletters and updates.

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Autism Connect

Autism Connect Service.

Autism Connect App

The Autism Connect app is a video chat tool for connecting our community together. Created for autistic people and those who make up their support network – so that they can connect, share learnings and journey together.

For the safety of our Autism NZ users and online community, we require every user to be verified using photo identification. Our team may contact you via email and/or phone as part of the verification process, prior to issuing you a username and password to use the Autism Dashboard and requested services.

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Privacy Policy

This privacy policy explains which information Autism NZ collects on www.autismnz.org.nz, what we do with it and your rights to correct or change it.

Personal information
We only collect personal information if you choose to give it to us. If you submit a registration form or make a financial donation you provide us with personal contact information so we can connect with you to make further arrangements. All information provided will be held in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020.

We do use common internet technologies such as cookies on our website, and collect non-personal information to track traffic on our sites to improve our services. This data does not include personal information and is not linked to any personal information you may provide through our website.

Use and disclosure
The personal information you provide to us will only be used for the purposes for which you supplied it, or, in exceptional situations, for other reasons permitted under the Privacy Act 2020.

No personal contact information will be supplied to any third party.

This privacy policy only relates to our site. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the practices of sites of other organisations and businesses we may link to on our site. Please check the privacy policies on external sites before providing personal information to them or any other third party.

Your right to access information
The New Zealand Privacy Act of 2020 gives you the right to access and correct, update or delete any personal information that we hold about you. Contact us with your request.

Hit 'register' below and one of our team will verify your details and be in contact once your service request is approved.