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Funding Boost for dsport

Funding Boost for dsport

dsport are pleased to announce a funding boost from the Sport New Zealand Tu Manawa fund and Lottery Grants Covid-19 Well-being fund.

The Tu Manawa fund, administered by Sport Wellington, provides funding for programmes or projects delivering play, active recreation, and sport experiences for tamariki and rangatahi. These may be new or already operating. Some groups who are more at risk of missing out or being less active, including those living with a disability.

Sport Wellington have partnered with dsport to provide a range of opportunities for disabled young people in our region aimed at increasing participation. Opportunities include our highly successful Youth Group.

Lottery Grants have also come on board with dsport recognising New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People and the lack of opportunities available in sport and active recreation.


dsport thanks Sport New Zealand, Sport Wellington and Lottery Grants Board for their belief in us and helping us make a difference in the lives of disabled New Zealanders through sport.


Kids Get Active Days

Kids Get Active Days

In partnership with Peke Waihanga Artificial Limb Service, dsport delivers the Kids Get Active days. This initiative started a few years ago in Wellington and we are now delivering across the country. 

The aim of the 1-day programme is to give young amputees an activity day, based around an athletics fundamental skills, help them to meet other young amputees, connect with local disability sports organisations, and have a fun day out.

It's also a great opportunity for family and whanau to network and make new connections.

This summer season we have delivered the programme in Hawkes Bay, Palmerston North, Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch. We are planning on a final event in Tauranga in late summer.


Alan Signal Celebrates and Congratulates Wellington Paralympians

Alan Signal - PNZ Celebration Project

On Tuesday 17 November, dsport President Alan Signal was invited to give the closing speech at the PNZ Celebration Project where 18 Paralympians were awarded their numbered pins by Governor General Patsy Reddy. Here is what Alan had to say.


Firstly, congratulations to all the Paralympians who this evening received their numbered pins, what an honour it has been to be here to celebrate with you.

For many, the Paralympics is the sporting pinnacle we all aspire to.

But for most, like me, we can only be inspired by your achievements.

As I look around the room I see an amazing group of people who are succeeding and excelling both in their sporting careers and also their professional careers. Some of you I know and have worked with, others I know by reputation. So I am humbled to have been asked to speak to you tonight.

As a young boy with CP growing up in the Wairarapa, I thought nothing of playing with my friends and classmates. I didn’t want to see myself as disabled, but I knew I had limited options to progress in sport. I made the Masterton rep team in cricket but that’s as far as I was going to go… can you imagine these shoes running between the wickets!! 

It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I found dsport and the opportunities for me to play wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. For me, this has been a new chapter in my journey of discovery. It’s one I’m pleased to have found and I which I am totally committed to.

As President of dsport, I have the privilege of assisting disabled people in our region with their journey’s in sport. I am particularly proud of our disabled young people who are getting involved.

For many, their journey is not an easy one, but we do try to make it as accessible and as fun as possible.

Our Youth Group, with over 100 members, provides the gateway for their engagement. We are very fortunate this Group is run by your colleague Kate Horan, Paralympian Number 145.

Kate brings her knowledge and insight of high performance, her groundedness as a mum and grandmother, as well as her passion for inclusion, sense of humour and love of fun to the role.

This year we have been able to increase our support to our talented athletes. We are now seeing a number of our Youth Group members breaking age group records, Corran in Para athletics and Erin in Para swimming; while Johan is vying for a place in the Wheelblacks. Their eyes are firmly set on wearing the fern in Paris 2024 and beyond.

We are confident of what we see as a positive future for disabled young people in our region. We are proud of our 50 years of work in delivering disability sport and believe the legacy which we are celebrating today, with all of our Paralympians here, is providing the vision and inspiration for future generations.

To finish off, I would like to say to our Paralympians, their families, whanau and friends, thank you for all your hard mahi and determination and support you shown during your sporting career.

Thank you too for your ongoing commitment to making Wellington, and New Zealand, a better place to live and play.

Without you all, our job at dsport where we inspire, enable and achieve, would be much harder.

Bring on Tokyo 2020 … 1 !!!



Wellington Paralympians Recognised by Governor General

PNZ Celebration Project - Wellington Ceremony

Last Tuesday, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) marked the nineth community event as part of The Celebration Project, where the achievements of New Zealand’s 209 Paralympians since Tel Aviv 1968 were officially recognised and celebrated.

In Wellington, 18 New Zealand Paralympians, their families and friends and PNZ commercial partners came together at Government House hosted by PNZ Patron Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand. Together they celebrated over 50 years of Paralympic history in New Zealand acknowledging the incredible 209 Paralympians that have represented New Zealand. Since 1968 New Zealand Paralympic Teams have stunned supporters and competing nations with their determination, heart and courage and ultimately, their success. Paralympians have contributed to New Zealand Paralympic Teams success by representing Kiwis with pride and dignity and bringing home a staggering 221 medals. Through this success they have inspired Kiwis to think differently about disability. 

The Paralympians are now part of a group of 103 NZ Paralympians that have received their official ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin and certificate following The Celebration Project events in Auckland (x2), Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Queenstown during 2019/2020. 

The official Paralympic ‘number’ is a unique number that is bestowed only once a Paralympian has competed at their first Paralympic Games. Athletes are then ordered alphabetically within each Paralympic Games.

Her Excellency said: “As patron of Paralympics New Zealand, it is an honour to welcome 18 Paralympians and their supporters to Government House as part of the Celebration Project. Their achievements on the world’s sporting stage have showcased the possibilities of the human spirit, and their success is something we can all be truly proud of.”

Selwyn Maister (Chair, PNZ) said: “We were privileged to have 18 wonderful Paralympians and their families, friends and supporters, representing New Zealand Paralympic Teams from Heidelberg 1972 to Rio 2016 Paralympic Games come together in Wellington at Government House. We thank our Patron The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy for hosting, acknowledging and celebrating our Paralympians. From Paralympian number 17 Neroli Fairhall who competed in 4 Paralympic Games debuting at Heidelberg 1972; and Paralympian number 204 Greg Reid who competed in Rio 2016. These 18 Paralympians are members of a very exclusive club of just 209 New Zealanders. They will be members forever, as once a Paralympian, always a Paralympian.”

Shelley Kalivati (Paralympian #50) is well known for the 4 Paralympic medals she won at the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Paralympic Games. Kalivati spoke about her sporting experiences: “Success in sport as a Paralympian gave me the drive I needed to do other things like studying Parks and Recreation Management at Lincoln University. I realised that if I really wanted something, I could do it.”

She continued: “After my accident sport helped me find my oomph in life again. I’ll be forever thankful that I got back into sport and represented my country as a Paralympian.”

PNZ will stage a further 2 community events in Dunedin and Christchurch, within two of the communities that have so passionately supported their Paralympic heroes for over 50 years. The project has been made possible thanks to funding and support from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Toyota New Zealand.

Prior to The Celebration Project community event, the PNZ team were at Te Papa on Sunday 15 and Monday 16 November sharing the Para Sport Pop Up with the public and local schools.  

The Para Sport Pop Up is an innovative initiative that is travelling around New Zealand in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, telling the story of New Zealand’s Paralympic history, increasing awareness of Para sport and positively influencing community perceptions of disabled people. The Para Sport Pop Up includes a variety of Para sport activities and fun ways to show your support of the New Zealand Paralympic Team! 

Paralympians who attended the event included:



Born in Christchurch, Paralympic legend Neroli took up Para archery following a motorbike accident which left her paralysed from the waist down. Fairhall competed in Para athletics and Para archery at her first two Paralympic Games in Heidelberg 1972 and Arnhem 1980, but it was in Para archery that she excelled, taking gold in Arnhem in 1980. Four years later, she became the first Para athlete to also compete at the Olympics in Los Angeles. She went on to compete at two further Paralympic Games, Seoul 1988 and Sydney 2000. Neroli passed away in 2006. She was posthumously inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Neroli was represented by members of her family. 



Heneti had her first connection with the Paralympic Movement when she spent 11 months in the world-acclaimed spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital following a motor vehicle accident. Stoke Mandeville, is the home of the Paralympic Movement. Heneti took up Para sport 10 years after her accident in New Zealand joining the Wellington Paraplegic Association, as it was known back then, and started participating in shot put and discus. But it was in the water that Heneti felt most at ease. Heneti made her Paralympic debut at the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games where she competed in Para athletics and Para swimming. She won the bronze medal in the 25m Backstroke 1B. Heneti passed away in 1987. She was represented by her husband and son at Government House.



Paul is a two-time New Zealand Paralympian. He made his Paralympic debut at the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games where he competed in Para athletics and Para swimming. Paul won a bronze medal in the 50m Breaststroke 4 event. He then qualified for the Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games in Holland where he achieved great success claiming gold this time in the 100m Breaststroke 4. Paul and his family live in Clive, Hawkes Bay.



Kaye is a visually impaired New Zealand Paralympian who made her debut at the Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games in Holland. Known as Kaye Firth at that time, she competed in both Para athletics and Para swimming. Kaye won a gold medal in the Pentathlon B. Kaye also competed in tandem cycling and won several marathon medals. Kaye has continued her involvement and passion for Para sport, especially Goalball and Blind cricket. Kaye now works for Blind Low Vision Kapiti.



After losing his left leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 20, Marty has refused to let his disability slow him down. Marty is a 2-time Paralympian, the only Para athlete who has represented New Zealand at both a winter and summer Paralympic Games. He began as a Para alpine skier, competing at the Innsbruck 1984 Paralympic Winter Games. 6 years later Marty joined the team of 4 Para sailors to compete at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Marty is also passionate about surfing and golf, he is a national knee boarding champion, has biked some of our toughest mountain trails and competed in the National Marathon Canoeing Championships. Marty is currently a mountain bike instructor inspiring young riders.



Shelley had a very successful Paralympic debut at the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Paralympic Games. She won an impressive 4 Paralympic medals: 2 gold in the 200m and Pentathlon; and 2 silver in the 100m and slalom. She then changed sports to Wheelchair tennis, winning the C Division at the Australian Open and the Women’s Division of the New Zealand Open. She moved to Germany and competed in the European Wheelchair tennis circuit successfully, making the quarter-finals twice. Shelley has been working for NZ Police for 19 years as a dispatcher at Wellington Central Police Station. Full feature story available here.



Forty-five years ago Morice had a tractor accident in Wakefield near Nelson which resulted in him becoming a paraplegic. He competed at two Paralympic Games: Stoke Mandeville 1984 and Seoul 1988. He had the honour of being the flag bearer for the New Zealand Paralympic Team at the opening ceremony in 1988 in front of 100,000 people. Morice specialised in Para athletics long-distance wheelchair races which included finishing 4th in the first ever Paralympic marathon. Morice retired after 14 years of completive Para sports in 1991 but is still an active member of Table Tennis Nelson and coaches adaptive table tennis. It was also in this same room that 26 years ago Morice received his Queen Service Medal honour for his services to disabled sports.



Peter was born with a condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome. He was born without all four limbs. In the late 1970’s he took up outdoor lawn bowls and soon found he was pretty good at it, able to play with and against some of the best bowlers in NZ. In 1988, Peter was selected to the New Zealand Paralympic Team to compete in South Korea. His Paralympic debut was a fantastic success as he won the historical 2 Paralympic medals in Para lawn bowls for New Zealand. He won the gold medal in the Men’s Singles LB3 and the bronze medal in the Men’s Pairs LB2. Eight years later, Peter competed again at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. Peter is a founding member of NZ Disabled Lawn Bowls.



Lesli was diagnosed at the age of 14 with Stargardt’s disease, as a result, she has gradual loss of her central vision. Lesli always loved athletics and as a young girl competed at a regional level winning numerous medals for her local athletics club. Lesli made her Paralympic debut at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games. Her main event was the heptathlon where she was ranked 2nd in the world. However, due to low entries in her classification and she had to compete in new and separate Para athletics events. Lesli won two medals: silver in the Women’s 100m B3 and bronze in the Women’s Long Jump B3. Today Lesli works as a counsellor, workshop facilitator and conference presenter.



Stuart comes from Wainuiomata and has spina bifida. He always enjoyed sport, especially weightlifting. When weightlifting began impacting on his disability his neurosurgeon suggested he should try wheelchair racing. That is what he did and quickly qualified to the 1987 International Stoke Mandeville Games and won 4 medals. Just 1 year later, Stuart competed at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, where he won a silver medal in the 200m 1C. After his retirement from Para athletics in 1990, Stuart became involved in indoor bowls and was in the Hutt Valley representative team for several years.



Jacque made her debut at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. She competed in Wheelchair tennis in the Women’s Singles and Doubles event with her partner Paralympian #110 Marilyn Stratford. In 2004, Jacque returned to the Paralympic Games competing again in the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles with a new partner this time, Paralympian #150 Tiffiney Perry. Jacque also entered many competitions in Wheelchair basketball, Para rowing, and kayaking. Jacque is still competing today in Waka ama called Para va’a. She was part of the New Zealand Team who won gold and silver at the World Sprints in Tahiti 2018. Jacque aims to gain selection for the World Sprint Championships next year.



Carey competed in Para athletics at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. Being a tetraplegic, Carey specialised in Wheelchair racing and competed in the 800m, 1500m and Marathon events in the T51 class. In Atlanta 1996, the New Zealand Paralympic Team included 34 proud collectively won 19 medals. Carey lived in Nelson and worked as a farmer. Carey passed awayin 2010. We welcome his family Michelle and Caitlin to receive his Paralympic pin. Paralympian number 98 Carey Lineham. 



Justin was a member of the highly successful Wheel Blacks Wheelchair rugby team winning bronze at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Two years prior to that achievement Justin also represented New Zealand with the Wheel Blacks at the 1998 Wheelchair Rugby World Championships where the team won the silver medal. Justin has a 25-year career working in disabled sport. He is the Disability Consultant for Sport New Zealand. Through the delivery of the Sport New Zealand Disability Plan, Justin is ensuring there will be quality and equitable, play, active recreation and sport opportunities for disabled tamariki and rangatahi, of their choice. Previously he has worked as a Halberg Foundation Senior Adviser in Canterbury. He developed a system for physically disabled students to achieve in physical education NCEA for the Ministry of Education and created pathways for disabled athletes in secondary school sports championships.



Kate is known for her multiple sporting talents, across both Para athletics and Para cycling. Just a year after taking up sprinting she made her Paralympic debut at the Athens 2004 Paralympics where she broke the world record in the 400m. Four years later at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, Kate mounted the Paralympic podium taking silver in the T44 200m. Struggling to cope with the demands of athletics training on her body she switched to the lower impact sport of Para cycling. After just a year on the bike she won her first national title and has since excelled internationally. Kate was selected for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Para cycling where she narrowly missed out on a medal in the 3km pursuit. In 2017 Kate received the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Paralympic sport. She has now retired from Para sport to focus on her family and seek new challenges.



Paula achieved at the highest level in Para cycling winning a gold and two bronze medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, as well as winning 2 World Championships titles in 2009. She was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 for services to cycling. Tesoriero has an in depth understanding of the Paralympic Games environment both as a Paralympian and more recently as the Chef de Mission to lead the New Zealand Paralympic Team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Paula is currently the New Zealand Disability Rights Commissioner. She is passionate about the Paralympic Movement and its ability to change perceptions and transform society. 



Jan is a well-known New Zealand Paralympic sailor. She was born and bred in Wellington. In 2000 she was diagnosed with a spinal cord condition which meant, that she would lose the use of her legs over time. In 2010, she tried out a newly installed sailing simulator at the Auckland Spinal Unit gym. This sparked the beginning of Jan’s sailing career. In the following year she teamed up with Paralympian #172 Tim Dempsey. The pair made their debut at the World Championships in the Netherlands in 2011 where they qualified a slot for New Zealand for the London 2012 Paralympics. She is to date the only female Paralympic sailor to represent New Zealand. Jan now resides in Auckland where she is still actively involved with Sailability Auckland and is also a member of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club. Over the years she has also had national successes in Para archery and Shooting Para sport.



Mary is visually impaired and made her Paralympic debut at London 2012 Paralympic Games. Mary struck gold with a world record time in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM11. Mary also won a further two silver medals and bronze. She continued her winning streak at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where she won gold and set a World Record in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S11. Mary Fisher retired from Para swimming in 2018. She is now a Paralympics New Zealand Board member. Mary is well known for her role as a disability and environment advocate.



Greg has been involved in the sport of shooting for over 20 years. He competed in many competitions until 2000. However, it was not until 2009 that Greg was convinced to return to shooting, this time in the form of Shooting Para sport. Greg won a bronze medal at the 2009 Oceania Championships and made the finals at the 2010 IPC Shooting World Championships. Greg was selected to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and had an outstanding performance finishing 7th in a hotly contested event. Outside of Shooting Para sport Greg is a Mass Metrologist, the science of measurement.




Member Profile Series - Introducing ... Jacque Courtier

Jacque Courtier - Wheelchair Tennis Player and Paralympian number 89

Jacque Courtier - Wheelchair Tennis Player and Paralympian number 89


Jacque made her debut at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. She competed in Wheelchair tennis in the Women’s Singles and Doubles event with her partner Paralympian #110 Marilyn Stratford

In 2004, Jacque returned to the Paralympic Games competing again in the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles with a new partner this time, Paralympian #150 Tiffiney Perry

Jacque also entered many competitions in Wheelchair basketball, Para rowing, and kayaking. Jacque is still competing today in Waka ama called Para va’a.

She was part of the New Zealand Team who won gold and silver at the World Sprints in Tahiti 2018. Jacque aims to gain selection for the World Sprint Championships next year.


Thank you Toyota New Zealand

Toyota Small Business Driver

Earlier this year dsport was selected as one of the successful winners of the Toyota Small Business Driver campaign.

To mobilise and support small businesses impacted by COVID-19, Toyota New Zealand are providing 100 businesses with a Toyota Highlander SUV for 12 months.

Toyota, in partnership with Mediaworks’ MediaFund, is calling for small businesses to apply from today for the use of a Highlander for a year and a tailored advertising campaign including media and creative material.

Andrew Davis, Toyota New Zealand Executive, said Toyota had been impacted by COVID-19 like most businesses but was able to mobilise its resources to help out other business owners.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand economy and many have been loyal Toyota customers for decades. In these difficult times they need all the help they can get – from Kiwi consumers, from the Government and from other, larger businesses.”

“Toyota cares about business owners and their employees. We’re part of everyday life in New Zealand and want to help businesses to keep moving during these uncertain times. Any way of reducing their expenses will help so we are drawing on our inventory and putting up 100 Highlanders for use for a year,” Andrew said.

Any small business can apply for the Small Business Driver package. They just need to show they employ fewer than 20 people and have received the Government’s wage subsidy.

When it heard about the Toyota offer, MediaWorks was so impressed it joined in with a radio advertising campaign that will also be provided to each business with a total value of $1 million from its MediaFund.

Entries were only open for a week. An independent selection panel was assembled by Toyota and MediaWorks to select the 100 small businesses to receive a Highlander and radio campaign. 

So far this we'd had the Highlander full of wheelchairs and sports equipment, towed a trailer or two, and soon we'll be taking it on the road for our Kids Get Active programme.

Thanks Toyota, we love it!


We are not on the sidelines, we are in the team

We’re not on the sideline, we are in the team

dsport Manager Catriona McBean is recruiting research participants for her PhD research into disability sport. Catriona, through a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship is looking into young people with physical impairments' engagement in sport and active recreation.


We’re not on the sideline, we are in the team

Researching Young People with Physical Impairments engagement in sport and active recreation

95,000 young New Zealander's identify as disabled.

According to Sport New Zealand (Sport NZ) disabled young people are under-represented in participation in sport and active recreation

During my time working and volunteering in the sector, I have observed disabled young people missing out, but I have also seen some fully engaged in sport and active recreation. Through hearing from these Young People with Physical Impairments (YPwI) who are active and engaged, I want to find out how more opportunities can be provided to get more disabled young people involved in sport and active recreation.

Put simply, the purpose of her research is to identify what positive factors influence YPwI’s participation in sport and active recreation in New Zealand. What gets them involved and what keeps them involved.


A bit about Catriona

Catriona McBean and is a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato and also works for dsport.  

She has worked and volunteered in sport and active recreation for over 35 years. Herroles in sport include leading Swimming NZ, Sport & Exercise Science NZ, and Orienteering NZ. In active recreation she has worked for Water Safety NZ and held volunteer roles in outdoor multisport events.

Over the last decade Catriona has been actively involved in disability sport, including being a Paralympics New Zealand board member and a volunteer for the International Paralympic Committee in Oceania. In 2018 she was a volunteer at the Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang and is hoping to be at the Tokyo games in 2021.


Why is this research needed?

While there is lots of research about inclusion in schools there is little that identifies the factors that contribute to the successful engagement of those YPwI who do participate in clubs and teams.  

One of the objectives of this research is to provide some practical outcomes for those wanting to become involved in disability sport provision. By identifying these arrangements and practices, illustrative case studies of what enables successful engagement can be articulated to sports organisations, as well as assisting in the development of future Government initiatives. Perhaps it will help support a move from ‘disability sport’, to a true sport for all system.

Ultimately, it is hoped the number of YPwI engaged in sport and active recreation in the future will increase, their participation rates improve, and that their experiences are positive and rewarding.


Research scope

The scope of this study means Catriona only have the capacity to meet with 4 or 5 Young YPwI to hear directly from them about their experiences in sport and active recreation.

To ensure she gets a range of perspectives and experiences, Catriona has created a nomination questionnaire. The questionnaire is in 2 sections. The first about the YPwI. The second about their family/whānau. 

The aim is to include disabled young people who are of different ages and gender, have different impairments, come from different areas and participate in different sports and active recreation.

Catriona also wants to hear from family/whānau and coaches/group leaders. If the YPwI you nominate is selected, you will also be able to help with this research.


How can you help?

There’s a number of ways you can help. If you are a:

  • sporting/disability organisation, please forward this to your members/regions/clubs/teams/coaches and promote through your social media (pdf and jpeg files attached)
  • family/whānau of a YPwI, talk to the YPwI in your household about this research. If they are interested in being part of this research or if you think they will be, please Nominate here
  • coach/group leader who has a YPwI in our club/team/group, feel free to forward this information to family/whānau of the YPwI.
  • friend or know a family with a YPwI who may be interested, please forward this information to family/whānau of the YPwI.


Nominations close Saturday 31 October

To find out  more about my research




Congratulations to Corran Hanning - Athletics Wellington Para Athlete of the Year

Corran Hanning - Athletics Wellington Para Athlete of the Year (2019/20).

Congratulations to Corran Hanning to has been named Athletics Wellington Para Athlete of the Year (2019/20).

Last year Corran's performances included

  • NZ Secondary School Athletics Championships.  2 Golds + 1 Silver + 3 NZSSA records + 3 Athletics NZ National U17 F12 + 1 U20 F12 Para Athletics records
  • NI Secondary Schools Athletics.  3 Golds + 3 NI records
  • Wellington Sportsperson of the Year – Disabled Sportsperson Finalist
  • College Sport Wellington Sportsperson of the Year – Disabled Athlete
  • Hutt Valley Sportsperson of the Year – Disabled Sportsperson Finalist


Corran was also named Wellington College  Junior Sportsmen of the Year.

Fabulous to see Corran's successes were recognised and celebrated by Coll where over 1100 juniors participate in sport.


2019 dsport Awards


Member Profile Series - Introducing ... Neil Tonkin

Introducing Neil Tonkin

Neil's life changed at 4.30pm on Sunday 6 November 1977 when, as an 18 year old youth, something happened on the way home from work & he woke up in a fence on the side of the Haywards to Porirua road (SH58).  

He had multiple spinal injuries and a major dislocation between T11 & T12.  This meant Neil was a complete paraplegic.  

Neil's accident happened such a long time ago that the now Burwood Spinal Unit was simply called 13B at located at Christchurch Hospital.  Neil recalls hearing the rats running around the ceiling during the night, and13B being so primitive that you “graduated” from having your own room to sleeping in the ward laundry when they ran out of space. Neil is a good storyteller so we're not sure if this is fact or ficton! 

In the 40+ years ago since his accident, the improvements to care, treatment & equipment has been extraordinary. Despite the primitive & now obsolete systems at 13B, most of the patients (or gimps as Neil fondly calls them) have good memories due to a real camaraderie between the patients & the staff.  According to Neil, "Cos, the head physio, was as tough as nails & never took “no” for an answer.  She could be demanding but loved & cared for us all.  Gimps of my vintage all respected & loved her!"

Neil was always active & saw no reason why he wouldn’t stay that way after his accident.  While motor cycling & tramping were no longer possible most other things merely meant modifying how he went about it.  After five months in the spinal unit he came back to Wellington wondering what to do with his life.  

Through Parafed Wellington (now dsport), he got to know a number of other disabled people.  Eve Rimmer published her book “No grass between my toes” around this time & it convinced him that he wanted to be a disabled athlete.  Neil moved with my family to Christchurch. He was lucky to have three things in his favour.  Firstly, he had a supportive extended family that encouraged whatever ambitions he had.  Neil said "I cannot recall my family ever questioning the wisdom of any of my ideas or ventures".  Secondly, he joined Parafed Canterbury & was blessed to come under the wing of Paralympian Graham Condon whose first words are burned into his memory, “you’re a bit scrawny aren’t you.  Have you thought about wheelchair racing".  Neil never looked back.  Thirdly, he was accepted into the first ever degree in Receation Management at Lincoln University graduating in 1981.

Neil's advice is never underestimate the value of supportive mentors.  Without his whanau, without Graham and without the principal course lecturer Alan Taylor, he would not have started what was to become a successful career & life.  

Within a year, Neil was breaking national wheelchair racing records & “running” over 100km per week in his wheelchair, no sports wheelchair for him.  By 1981, he was NZ’s top wheelchair racer at every distance from 200m up to the marathon.  Fortunately, Neil also became involved in competitive wheelchair basketball & pistol shooting as wheelchair racing bcame a bit more challenging when he moved back to Wellington.

Despite the Wellington conditions, Neil built his own specialist racing chair, joined an athletics club and competed in regional athletic races at Newtown Park continually improving my times.  To get around training on dark & dangerous roads, he set up rollers in his garage and enjoyed the opportunity to train out there after a full day at work. 

But it turned out Neil's real passion was wheelchair basketball.  In the late 1980's there were enough players for Wellington to have a competitive league of four teams, played at the Porirua Recreation Centre every Monday night.  The highlight was winning the Nationals Championships in 1988 with the most disabled team in the competition's history.  In 1987, a number of players attended the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Australia.  According to Neil, that was a revelation.  The chairs those guys used were almost science fiction in comparison with the chairs they played in.  

Two things stood out for Neil.  One was a Dutch player with CP. Despite his hands and arms constantly shaking, it took only one shot from him to see why he was there.  He was the Dutch 3 point shooter!  He was unbelievably accurate while seemingly looking in a different direction.  He was a great example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”!  The other was the Yugoslav team whose equipment was primitive at best and every one of them seemed to a misfit.  They were brilliant!  They were a great team without any of the resources of the other 11 teams in the tournament yet came painfully close to reaching the semi-finals.  They showed adversity doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.  

Neil did regain his outdoor experiences, not by tramping but through whitewater rafting, including becoming a Grade 3 qualified Guide.  Rafting was a revelation as it gave himaccess to wilderness that was incredibly inaccessible even to able-bodied people.  Always an advocate for his region, Neil believes one of the finest rafting rivers in NZ is the Hutt River from Kaitoki to Te Marua!  While rafting isn't for everyone Neil loved it and it took him places that otherwise were simply unavailable to him.  

He considered myself “lucky” when in 1981, he was appointed as Porirua City Council's first Recreation Officer.  This was the beginning of Neil's professional career is recreation and sport management. After Porirua, I worked for the Hillary Commission (now Sport NZ) from 1989 to 1992, and then the Hutt City Council from 1992 until he retired in 2002.  

Today Neil still keeps active using a stationary hand cycle for exercise with up to five half hour sessions each week, as well as doing a lot of volunteer work using his professional experience & expertise. He also keeps busy propagating vegetable and NZ native seedlings, beekeeping and building horizontal hives for other disabled people to use, and keeping on top of his own gardening on his lifestyle block and managing/killing “pests” and enhancing native fauna.

In his own words, this is what Neil has learnt over his 40+ years:

  • Firstly, it doesn’t matter what you do if it’s enjoyable to you so long as it’s legal.  I loved the endless training when I was competitive despite it seeming to be incredibly boring.  Because I loved it, I did it!  Because I did it I got very good at it.  Find what pushes your buttons & you’ll never look back.  Try everything at least once.  You may be surprised at what does “push your buttons”.   
  • Secondly, don’t let others set your limits.  Set them yourself - just be realistic.  You can achieve way beyond what you may initially have believed possible!  Until I started rafting, it never crossed my mind that I could once again experience true wilderness.  I get frustrated at seeing great potential of so many people not being set free.  
  • Thirdly, a touch of mongrel is always helpful.  I am stubborn & I am opinionated but it works for me and what I’m involved in.  Don’t drift into the grey nothingness of neither victory nor defeat.  Fight for what you want.  Prove it to yourself!  Adversity is not a barrier it is merely a hurdle to overcome.  
  • Disabled people today have access to opportunities that were simply impossible even 20 years ago.  Take advantage of it & it will make you stronger, faster, more able and open doors for you including representing your region or nation if that’s what you want.  Just do it!

Member Profile Series - Introducing .... The Missing Paralympian and her Medal Muddle

Heneti Morgan - Paralympian

Originally from Paraparaumu, Heneti Morgan had a motor vehicle accident in England resulting in her quadriplegia.

She spent 11 months in the world-acclaimed spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, undergoing rehabilitation, before she was able to fly home to New Zealand accompanied by a nurse.

Heneti took up Para sport 10 years after her accident. She had been a sporty kid – playing tennis, swimming and roller skating at the local rink. She joined the Wellington Paraplegic Association, as it was known back then, and started by tossing a shot put and a discus. It was in the water that she felt most at ease.

Sir Ludwug Guttmann, the German-born English neurosurgeon who founded the Paralympic Games remembered Heneti from her time in the spinal unit and stopped by to see her during a visit to New Zealand in 1971. 

Heneti competed in the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games along with 9 other Kiwi Paralympians. She took part in 6 events in Para athletics and Para swimming .

She won the bronze medal in the 25m Backstroke 1B. She had finished the race in second place and was presented with the silver – only to have to hand it back after an officials’ blunder. Her son still proudly displays her bronze medal in his home.

Late in 1986, Heneti went into hospital for surgery on her crumbling tail bone. She passed away in 1987 at the age of 48, from complications after surgery.

Read more on the great story of Heneti Morgan here.

Heneti was represented by her family who received her ‘numbered’ Paralympic pin as part of The Celebration Project in Wellington in November 2020.


Member Profile Series - Introducing .... Peter Horne "Hooks"