Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) launched ‘The Celebration Project’ with a community event in Auckland on 2 May, seeking to officially recognise the achievements of the country’s 209 Paralympians since Tel Aviv 1968.
Nineteen New Zealand Paralympians, together with their families and friends, as well as PNZ commercial partners and business leaders came together to celebrate over 50 years of Paralympic history in the country.
Paralympians have contributed to New Zealand’s success by representing Kiwis with pride and dignity and bringing home a staggering 221 medals across 24 Games. Through this success, they have inspired people to think differently about disability.
All 19 Paralympians who attended this first event in Auckland made history as the first to receive their official Paralympic pin and certificate.
PNZ has long wished to acknowledge Paralympians by ensuring they receive their official Paralympic ‘number’ – a unique number that is bestowed only once a Paralympian has competed at their first Games.
PNZ Chief Executive Fiona Allan said: “We are privileged to have 19 wonderful Paralympians and their families, friends and supporters from New Zealand Paralympic Teams spanning five decades.
“In 2017 as we neared our 50th anniversary as the National Paralympic Committee of New Zealand it became evident that we were at risk of losing valuable Paralympic history and stories.
“We have long wished to acknowledge our Paralympians, unearth and share their wonderful stories by celebrating their achievements and ensuring they receive their official Paralympic number.”
Wheelchair rugby Paralympic champion Tim Johnson added: “Becoming New Zealand’s 126th Paralympian was a great honour and recognition of not just reaching the very top of my sporting field but also the significant amount of training required to reach the top.”
Full list of 19 Paralympians recognised in Auckland is available on Paralympics New Zealand’s website.
PNZ will stage a further 11 community events around the country.