Differently Abled

Taking a Stand, Making a Difference. The Graeme Axford Story

Graeme Axford

Born with severe dyslexia, Graeme Axeford struggled for years with no definitive diagnosis for his condition. At school, Graeme was considered ‘slow’, a ‘no hoper’, and his frustration boiled over into anger, trouble making and violence. A teacher told him the only career he could expect was ‘a criminal one’.
Throughout his advocacy career, bureaucrats equated Graeme’s poor reading and writing skills with low intelligence. Graeme overcame this stigma with dogged determination and a never-give-up attitude that has seen him become one of New Zealand’s most successful consumer advocates. Graeme’s achievements were recognised when he received a Kiwibank Local Hero Medal in 2012 and was nominated again in 2019.
Graeme lives near Greymouth on New Zealand’s West Coast.

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Graeme Axford is a human rights and disability advocate. Over the last twenty years, he has voluntarily supported over 7,000 people in their dealings with various New Zealand Government departments. Graeme is a qualified social worker and has successfully petitioned Parliament to bring about change and improve accountability within the social services sector.

Co-author Jane Bissell is an Auckland-based writer, writing mentor, writing workshop facilitator and ghostwriter. The author of two books, Welcome to the Amazon Club and The Pink Party, Jane specialises in helping authors to tell their own life stories. Jane is a member of the NZ Society of Authors and has a website at