"Providing opportunities to realise potential in ourselves and others"
I tend to think of myself as an adventurer and reluctant motivator. I provide a space where people can think about their goals, limitations and how to overcome adversity as it is faced. Some of the things I do are: my own adventures, to show that limitations can be overcome; teaching, coaching and instruction in bushcraft and climbing with a specialty in adaptive practice; speaking to groups and workshops on various topics; adaptive fitness and outdoor programs and advocacy.
So who am I?
I like to think of myself as an ordinary kiwi. However in January 1998 I really messed up my back playing softball (one of the most boring "how I injured myself" stories) which left me unable to feel my feet and having to learn how to walk again.
I drifted for a few years, unsure what to do, in 2003 I rediscovered my love the for the outdoors when I was fortunate enough to be a participant in on a BackUp NZ program. In that week I went Kayaking, Climbing, Abseiling, Paragliding, Tramping, Scuba Diving and generally having a good time. BackUp program were designed as Integrated Adventures, meaning half the group were fully able bodied and half the group had a range of functional ability.
This program ignited the passion within me. In 2007 I graduated with a Diploma in Adventure Eco Tourism, and since then I have been working towards developing my own adaptive outdoor and fitness knowledge.
These days I hope to educate others in adaptive practice in these sectors and strive to take time out to enjoy the journey of my trips rather than being so focused in achieving something.
As always, a huge shout out for Assistance Dogs NZ Trust for all the work they do, as without ADNZ Ben, I couldn't get out and do many of the "crazy" things I do!
|Antnz and ADNZ Ben, Rangi Hut Feb 2017|
From Assistance Dogs NZ Trust Ben is my trusty Disability Assist Dog. With the bad balance picking things up off the ground can be a problem, and ADNZ can pick up things from a EFTPOS card, maps. He also helps me up off the ground, and out of chairs. The big bonus is that he also carries things for me, being 32 kg means he can carry about 6kg of gear and that is a huge amount of my legs which makes things a more achievable. Because he is legally a "Disability Assist Dog" he is allowed access to most public areas, if venturing on private land I seek additional landowners permission as required.
In some pictures you will see ADNZ Ben in a muzzle, there are several reasons for this:
- NZ only has 2 land based mammals, which are 2 fruit and invertebrate eating bats; so mammalian specific poisons are used to protect our native flora and fauna from pests such as rats, mice, stoats, ferrets, possums, cats, deer, pigs, goats, weasels, so I would rather ADNZ Ben cannot access either bait, nor carcasses with his muzzle on. It only take a minute to put it on if I need him to get something for me.
- At some times of the year some trees drop berries that have toxic kernels, I'd rather not risk his health. Yes he has a good leave it, but lets face it, he's a Labrador and sometimes he will vacuum something up without giving me time to correct it.
- New Zealand has many endangered and protected species of flightless and ground nesting birds as well as a few lizards, we lose too many of these priceless taonga (treasures) to dogs so I will use a muzzle in areas known to have these species.
A huge THANK YOU! To the entire team at Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust. Without ADNZ Ben I wouldn't be getting out there as I do. I don't know if words can express just how much I appreciate what you have done by teaming me up with ADNZ Ben.
This is my mascot, he's a Beanie Baby Kiwi. Kaha was a give-away with NZ Adventurer Magazine, I believe only 1000 of these Beanie Babies exist. Kaha has been with me on many adventures. He is named Kaha (Maori for strong/strength) to remind me that I have the strength within me to achieve my goals.