Last night in Auckland, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) unveiled the Spirit of Gold® Collection in the presence of New Zealand Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key. Just 120 guests were exclusively invited to the unveiling at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron by long-time PNZ partner, Adecco.
This innovative project is a unique combination of art and sport. Kiwi artist Amber Gabrielle Stephens has created a beautiful set of 12 Portraits featuring some of New Zealand’s most high profile summer and winter Paralympians and Para-Athletes, to showcase the depth of talent across Para-Sport in New Zealand. The collection includes London 2012 Paralympic Games medallists, Sophie Pascoe, Michael Johnson, Cameron Leslie and Mary Fisher, Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games medallist, Corey Peters, and World Champion Para-Cyclists Emma Foy and Laura Thompson.
The collection is set to tour New Zealand for up to 35 weeks, increasing awareness and raising funds to support the New Zealand Paralympic Games team on the road to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and to support the growth of Para-Sport in New Zealand. The collection will be auctioned during a planned ‘send off’ event in June or July 2016, the mark the moment the team leaves for training camps ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, 7 - 18 September 2016.
During the unveiling, PNZ was delighted to announce a new partnership in support of the Spirit of Gold® Collection Tour. The New Zealand Chambers of Commerce have agreed to stage more than 10 local events around the country ahead of Rio 2016, ensuring that everyone in New Zealand will have an opportunity to see the Portraits, meet Paralympians and learn more about Para-Sport. This series of events will be complemented by events being staged by PNZ major partners, including ACC, Sanford and Cadbury, and booked appearances at local community events and venues. It is expected that the Collection may visit in excess of 30 different locations in the course of the Tour.
Fiona Allan (Chief Executive, Paralympics New Zealand) said, “The London 2012 Paralympic Games saw Para-Sport explode into the public consciousness on a global level and millions of people tuned in to watch, fascinated by the professionalism and skill. In New Zealand we have a lot to be proud of – our team finished number one in the world for medals per capita – however - not many kiwis are actually fully aware of that! We think that touring the Spirit of Gold® Collection is a wonderful way to for the public to meet our Paralympians and Para-Athletes, get to know their names and faces, learn about their successes and hopefully, become interested in donating to support our initiative.”
Michael Barnett (Chief Executive, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce) said, “The Spirit of Gold® Collection is a wonderful project and we could not be more excited about supporting this through our local Chamber network. We identified a great opportunity to support the Paralympians and tell their story of individual commitment and attitude – attributes that sit comfortably with business.”
Amber Stephens (Artist) said, “Inspiration first struck when I first met Paralympian, Sophie Pascoe. I was immediately taken by Sophie’s unapologetic drive to meet her sporting potential.” She continues, “Following this meeting knew I had to use my artistic approach to capture the story and raise the profile of these amazing athletes. I visited Paralympics New Zealand in early 2015 and worked closely with them, and eventually the Spirit of Gold® Collection was born.”
Mary Fisher (London 2012 Paralympian and World Champion) said, “This is an exciting project to be involved in as we continue on our road to Rio 2016. This is a very innovative kiwi way of showing our Para-Athletes. I think it's amazing that from one meeting with Amber she was able to create an intimate portrait of each athlete this way. When it was unveiled for the first time this evening I was able to feel the painting with my fingers because it is so textured. I am looking forward to hearing people's feedback!”
Full list of Para-Athletes and Paralympians included in the Spirit of Gold® Collection:
Sophie Pascoe (Christchurch) - Golden girl of the pool and winner of 10 Paralympic medals, including 6 gold. Rio 2016 medal hopeful
Corey Peters (New Plymouth) - Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games silver medallist in Alpine Skiing and PyeongChang 2018 medal hopeful
Mary Fisher (Auckland) - Break-through Para-Swimmer from London 2012, winner of 4 Paralympic medals, including gold. Rio 2016 medal hopeful
Tim Dempsey and Gemma Fletcher (Auckland) - Rio 2016 Para-Sailing hopefuls and rising stars, winners of a silver medal at the last Sailing World Cup
Tim Williams (Ngatea) - Recent winner of two handcycling silver medals at the 2015 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships
Kate Horan (Wellington) - Beijing 2008 silver medallist in Para-Athletics, now a Rio 2016 medal hopeful in her new sport of Para-Cycling
Scott Martlew (Christchurch) - Developing star in the very competitive world of ParaCanoe and Rio 2016 hopeful
Adam Hall (Dunedin) - Veteran of 3 Paralympic Winter Games, Alpine Skiing gold medallist, and PyeongChang 2018 medal hopeful
Laura Thompson (Auckland) - London 2012 gold, silver and bronze medallist, Para-Cycling sighted pilot AND new team mate...
Emma Foy (Cambridge) – World Champion Para-Cycling tandem prodigy
Carl Murphy (Wanaka) - 2015 IPC Para-Snowboard World Cup gold medallist, Sochi 2014 debutant and PyeongChang 2018 medal hopeful
Cameron Leslie (Auckland) - Gold medallist and Para-Swimming world record holder from both Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Rio 2016 hopeful
Michael Johnson (Auckland) - New Zealand’s most senior current Paralympian and flag bearer at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Veteran of three Paralympic Games - Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Winner of three Paralympic medals and medal hopeful for Rio 2016.
The first public viewing of the Spirit of Gold® Collection will be at Te Wero Island containers, Viaduct Basin, Auckland from 30 November to 6 December.