Posted on Tuesday 19th May, 2020

To mark 1 year since the launch of The Celebration Project where the first group of New Zealand Paralympians were acknowledged and celebrated in Auckland as they received their official Paralympic numbered pin, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) called out to the New Zealand public on 1 May to help find the remaining Paralympians or their families. Thanks to New Zealanders support PNZ now knows the whereabouts of 200 of New Zealand’s 209 Paralympians.

However, there are still 9 remaining Paralympians or their families to be found, acknowledged and celebrated (see their profiles below).

Please contact Laure Gruffat, PNZ Events and Digital Coordinator at lgruffat@paralympics.org.nz if you have any additional information on those Paralympians.

Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, PNZ) said: “We have been so privileged to have already acknowledged and celebrated 77 of our Paralympians and connected with 200 Paralympians and/or their families. We thank all individuals and organisations that have helped us to find these Paralympians and now call upon members of the public to help us find the remaining 9 Paralympians and/or their families. This will ensure that they can be acknowledged and celebrated and for their stories to be shared once again with all New Zealanders.”

Of the 9 Paralympians:

  • 5 Paralympians were part of the very first New Zealand Paralympic Team that competed at the Tel Aviv 1968 Paralympic Games
  • 1 Paralympians competed in summer Paralympic Games throughout the 1970s
  • 3 Paralympians competed in Paralympic Games throughout the 1980s including 2 summer and 1 winter Paralympian

The Celebration Project was the first time Paralympians had ever been acknowledged in this way in New Zealand. To date, a total of 77 Paralympians have been acknowledged with 7 community events being held throughout New Zealand and 1 special event in Germany. PNZ did have a further 4 community events planned although due to COVID-19 these have been postponed.

Paralympian #76 Evan Clulee who received his Paralympic pin 1 year ago said he would love for all his fellow Paralympians to have the same experience he did: “To now be numbered as New Zealand Paralympian #76, to be honoured as one of 209 New Zealand athletes that represented New Zealand at a Paralympic Games cannot be summed up easily. To be honoured is broad, it is wide reaching, life impacting, and a huge privilege.” 

Together our 209 Paralympians represent over 50 years of Paralympic history in New Zealand, since 1968 New Zealand Paralympic Teams have stunned supporters and competing nations with their determination, resilience, 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 across 23 Paralympic Games. Through this success they have inspired Kiwis to think differently about disability.

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.

As of 19 May 2020, find here the profiles of the 9 New Zealand Paralympians to find.

Paralympian #1 Norman Brown

Norman immigrated from England with his mother. Norman fell off his motor bike and injured his spine. He was dreaming of being a civil engineer but turned to the next best and became a draughtsman. Formerly a soccer player, he soon excelled in Para archery and Para swimming. He was even coached by Olympian Dave Gerrard at the Mt Eden’s pool in Auckland. Norman made his Paralympic debut at the Tel Aviv 1968 Paralympic Games, as a member of New Zealand’s first ever Paralympic team. Norman was a talented Paralympian competing in a variety of Para sports including Para archery, Para swimming and Para table tennis. In Israel, Norman finished 6th in his heat of the 25m breaststroke. In Para table tennis, he lost his first round 0-2 in the singles against the English team with his partner Philip Read.

It is early Paralympians such as Norman that have paved the way for future Paralympians to succeed today and in the future. Norman has now passed away. His mother lived in Hillsborough in Auckland and she passed away before Norman. To date, we have no information about Norman’s family.

Paralympian #5 Rex Fattorini (1941 – 2017)

Rex made his Paralympic debut in Tel Aviv 1968 Paralympic Games as part of the first ever New Zealand Paralympic Team. He competed in Para athletics, throwing the javelin and in Para weightlifting in the Featherweight class. Rex pressed 87.5 kilos and placed 11th from 12 competitors. He was a wheelchair user. Rex passed away suddenly with family by his side in ICU at Christchurch Hospital in 2017, aged 76 years.

Paralympian #6 Bill Flood

Bill lived in Australia and moved to Auckland to work on the construction of the Auckland Airport. Bill was hit on the head buy a large piece of clay that fell from the back of a dump truck, causing his paralysis. Bill took part in the Kingston Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in 1966 where he took the silver medal in the St Nicholas round in Para archery.
He became the captain of the New Zealand’s first Paralympic Team to compete at the Paralympic Games in 1968. The team was composed of 16 Kiwi Paralympians. Bill competed in several Para sports in Tel Aviv: Para archery, Para athletics, Bowls, Wheelchair fencing and Para table tennis. Bill was a wheelchair user.
Mr. Flood died in approximately 1971, he was survived by his wife Betty. She returned to Australia but passed away a few years later. To date, we have no information about his family.

Paralympian #9 Doug McDonald

Doug McDonald was also known as Colin McDonald. He was said to live in Manurewa, Auckland. Doug was the President of the Paraplegic Association. He took part in the Kingston Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in 1966 where he won the only gold medal for New Zealand in the discus and a bronze medal in the shot put. Doug was part of the 1968 New Zealand Paralympic Team. In Tel Aviv, he competed in Para table tennis. Doug passed away more than thirty years ago. He was survived by his wife Lyn who remarried some years later.

Paralympian #11 Bill Plessius

Bill (Wilhelm) lived in the Waikato region, in Ngaruawahia. Bill’s disability stems from a lorry crash in a stone quarry. Once a hairdresser, he became an expert woodturner. Bill took part in the Kingston Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in 1966 where he won a silver medal in the discus. He was then selected to be part of the New Zealand’s first Paralympic Team to compete at the Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv 1968. Bill specialised in throwing events in Para athletics. He competed in Israel in the club throw where he placed 28th, javelin finished 21st and discus 13th place. His best achievement was in shot put where he missed the bronze medal by 3cm. Bill passed away in 2013. To date, we have been able to get in touch with Bills’s family.

Paralympian #21 Chris Nicholls

Chris was part of the team of 10 Kiwi Paralympians who represented New Zealand at the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games in Germany. Chris competed in a number of events across Para swimming, Para athletics and Para archery. He just missed the podium in the 50m Freestyle 3, finishing 4th in the final. Chris was a paraplegic. Chris has passed away. His family may still live in Christchurch.

Paralympian #39 Dave Tarrant

Dave is a New Zealand Paralympian and competed at the Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games. Dave competed in Shooting Para sport. He won the bronze medal in the Mixed Air Pistol 2-5. Dave has passed away in 2018. To date, we have been able to get in touch with Dave’s family.

Paralympian #41 Denis Butler

Denis made his Paralympic debut at the Innsbruck 1984 Paralympic Winter Games along with 7 other Kiwi Para alpine skiers. Denis competed in the Downhill, Giant Slalom and Slalom events in the LW2 class. Denis is a single above the knee amputee. He lives in the USA, Winter Park Colorado, with his wife Diann Butler (nee Greis). Denis still has family in Southland that he visits from time to time.

Paralympian #67 Tui Te Rupe

Tui Te Rupe is a New Zealand Paralympian from Papakura. Tui is visually impaired and runs international marathons with his guide Paul Ryken. Tui was named to represent New Zealand at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games. He won the Maori Sports Award ‘Male athlete with a disability’ in 1993. Tui ran more than 100 marathons with a personal best of 2h53. He still holds New Zealand record for the 5000m in the T11 class, a record he set in 1982.