Posted on Monday 31st August, 2020

We are proud to welcome the Asia New Zealand Foundation to the Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) family of partners. The Foundation provides experiences and resources to help New Zealanders build their knowledge, skills, connections and confidence to thrive in Asia. We are working together as the New Zealand Paralympians and Para athletes prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games rescheduled in August 2021.

The partnership includes development of a video series to educate New Zealanders and the NZ Paralympic Team about Japanese culture. The first video has been produced, featuring Para badminton player Corrie Robinson, who travelled to Japan in 2017 to compete in his first international competition.  

Competing with Para athletes from all over the world, Corrie quickly learnt that the international game was very different from the game he played in New Zealand, with slightly different styles of the game played by some of the strong Asian nations. Corrie was impressed at how surprisingly easy it was to navigate around Tokyo, despite its size and the number of people, due to its efficient public transport system. He observed parallels between the Japanese and NZ cultures in that people tend to be polite and have respect for their elders in both, and he felt it is important and respectful to make the effort to learn some basic Japanese words before travelling there.

The video series also features Wheel Blacks Cody Everson, Mike Todd and Rob Hewitt sharing their experiences of playing Wheelchair rugby in Japan and learning about and having a go at traditional taiko drumming. The team travelled to Japan late in 2019 for the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships and stayed in the Wheel Blacks’ host city Atsugi.

They were supported to include cultural activities in their itinerary by a grant from the Foundation’s sport programme. The athletes share their impressions of Japan and their wide range of activities, including the extraordinary hospitality of their hosts in Atsugi. They describe the friendly and resourceful nature of the local people, who they say had an answer for everything, and they really appreciated the wonderful Japanese cuisine. The Wheel Blacks also observed the importance of tradition and cultural legacy in the Japanese people’s day to day lives.

All the athletes returned home with a real desire to visit Japan again and a list of new experiences as “must-dos”!

An educational resource has also been developed by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in association with PNZ for school children in years 7 to 10. Students will learn about the history of the Paralympic movement, explore Para sports, profile New Zealand Paralympians and Para athletes and enhance their awareness of disability. They will learn and apply concepts of accessibility, inclusion and inspiration in the context of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and their own school or community. The resource also covers the Paralympic values, the Tokyo 2020 mascot Someity, Games medals and the Paralympic Village.

PNZ is proud to be working with the Asia New Zealand Foundation on these initiatives, growing the understanding of New Zealanders about the culture and variety of experiences on offer when travelling to Japan and providing a valuable learning resource to Kiwi children, about the Paralympic Movement and the exciting Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games experience to come in 2021.