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Browns Bay bowler honoured for courageous attitude

Media release:September 15, 2014
For immediate release

Browns Bay bowler honoured for courageous attitude

Matt Weir’s determination to participate in the sport he loves – lawn bowls – despite being in a wheelchair has earned him respect on and off the bowling greens.

The 43-year-old is a finalist in the ‘Courage in Sport’ category in the 2014 Attitude Awards, which celebrates the achievements of disabled Kiwis.

Born with Spina Bifida, participating in any form of physical activity can be painful for Matt. As a teenager he took part wheelchair racing and weightlifting, but his back pain eventually curtailed his involvement – until he discovered lawn bowls.

Matt was watching a tournament at Browns Bay Bowling Club in 2006 when a member approached him and asked if he’d like to try the sport. Matt initially focussed on developing a bowling style suited to being in a wheelchair, then with time he developed his strength, stamina and bowling abilities.

But participating in the sport wasn’t without its challenges. The wheels of Matt’s chair were deemed too narrow to play on the greens at most clubs, for fear of damaging the playing surface, and a manufactured bowling chair wasn’t suitable either.

Fortunately Matt’s club was supportive and allowed him to play in his non-regulation chair until he finally found an acceptable set of ‘clip on’ wheels. Matt was then able to compete outside of his own club and be part of winning pairs and triples teams on many occasions.

Matt will find out if he’s an Attitude Award winner at a black tie gala on World Disability Day, December 3 at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre. He says “it’s great, but completely unexpected” to be selected for an award.

Attitude Awards Trustee Dan Buckingham, a member of the elite national wheelchair rugby team the Wheel Blacks, says: “This is such an exciting time for everyone at Attitude Pictures because we find out who the finalists are. We have started travelling the country to film the finalists and even though this is the seventh year of the awards their stories continue to amaze us.”

Dan encourages everyone to visit, an innovative web platform created by Attitude Pictures, in early November to see the short films about the finalists and to vote for the person most deserving of the coveted ‘People’s Choice Award.’

There are eight categories in the Attitude Awards: Sport Performer of the Year, Courage in Sport, Artistic Achievement, Youth, Spirit of Attitude, Attitude ACC Employer Award, Making a Difference Award and the inaugural Attitude Junior Award, for an achiever under 15 years of age. The overall winner of the Attitude ACC Supreme Award is selected from the category winners and a People’s Choice winner and a Hall of Fame inductee are also announced on the night.

Nominations for Sport Performer remain open until October 15 and can be submitted online at

Chief Executive of ACC Scott Pickering says ACC is proud to be principal sponsor of the awards for the seventh year, including sponsorship of the Attitude ACC Employer Award and the Attitude ACC Supreme Award.

"I'm really looking forward to this year's Attitude Awards, which are a significant event on New Zealand's calendar. Through celebrating excellence in the disability community and the important contributions made by New Zealanders with disabilities, the awards have the power to shift perceptions and to enhance lives."

The Courage in Sport award is sponsored by Westpac. Other sponsors supporting the awards include: Invacare, Barfoot and Thompson, IHC Foundation, Drake Medox, Ministry of Health, Air New Zealand and Wayne Francis Charitable Trust.

The Attitude Awards are inspired by the positive stories shown weekly on TV One’s “Attitude” programme, which screens at 8:30am on Sundays.

For tickets to the Attitude Awards gala evening on Dec 3 contact Sue Wales-Earl at or phone 09 377 6280.

For all the latest on the Awards and the Attitude Programme:
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Watch previous awards footage at


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