There were two award recipients of Pacific descent at the 2016 Attitude Awards, 15 year old Paralympic swimmer Tupou Seini Neiufi won the Emerging Athlete Award, and music teacher Ese Aumalesulu received the Spirit of Attitude Award.
In its ninth year New Zealand’s Attitude Awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with a disability.
Dan Buckingham, Chair of the Attitude Trust, says the Awards are about celebrating some outstanding New Zealand achievements, as well as shining a spotlight on disability.
“We celebrated success and achievement across areas such as art, sport and the big one for us - employment and entrepreneurship. There were some spectacular moments on stage, with some very humble Kiwi's getting the recognition they deserve,” said Buckingham.
Tupou, who competed in the 2016 Paralynpics in Rio De Janeiro, was hit by a speeding car when she was 2 years old.
The accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury and left her paralysed down her left side.
She began swimming as a form of physiotherapy but it became a passion leading her to become a world-class swimmer.
Ese, originally from Samoa, came to New Zealand when he was 7.
Ese lives with a visual impairment and reads braille music and some printed music using a magnifier.
After completing high school at Manurewa, Ese completed a music diploma through MAINZ but found it difficult to find work.
However through perseverance he was employed as a music teacher.
A highlight of his teaching career so far includes taking 10 students with no training in music through to winning the national Bandquest competition.
Other Attitude Award winners are: Eilish Wilkes (Youth Spirit), Graeme Porter (Sporting Spirit), Rodney Bell (Artistic Achievement), John Burton (Entrepreneur) and Genera Ltd (ACC Employer) and Debra Lampshire (ACC Supreme Award).
Anne Hawker, the Principal Disability Adviser at the Ministry of Social Development, was inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame and teenage running sensation Guy Harrison of Hawke’s Bay won the Attitude People’s Choice Award.
Chief Executive of ACC Scott Pickering says the Attitude Awards shine a light on New Zealand’s unsung heroes.
“At ACC we’re delighted to support the Awards and to acknowledge a talented group of New Zealanders who live life to the fullest, achieve their goals and provide role models to our community.”
The Awards have grown out of the Attitude TV series which screens on TV ONE on Sunday mornings at 8:30AM.