My Story

Workers – many of them still in their hi-viz vests – had taken a couple of hours out of their working day to gather at Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s School of Scaffolding for the afternoon session…..

His introduction was low-key, discussing his former life – as a policeman, antiques dealer, runner, karate enthusiast, and refurbisher of houses – and how, for six years until July 30 2004, he worked as a hammer-hand on residential building sites, “then I went to work one day and never came home.”

It wasn’t a big dramatic fall that broke his neck – just a tumble from two unsecured planks resting on deck framing, only 2.2 metres from the ground. “I landed directly on top of my head. I remember seeing my feet pointing up at the sky, and the tools falling out of my apron. And I heard the crunch as my neck broke.”

As Brown lay on the ground, summoning energy to call for help, he felt a tingling sensation go through his body and realised he was paralysed. He spent two weeks in intensive care, six months in the Otara Spinal Unit and two-and-a-half years in a home for the elderly, but has now moved into his own specially designed house, where he has caregivers in constant attendance.

Extensive tendon surgery has given him enough movement in his right hand to feed himself, control a wheelchair, clean his own teeth, brush his own hair and shave. Everything else – including showering and toileting – must be done for him.

About Me

I was born and raised in Whangarei leaving school in 1968 after the 6th form. I worked locally for a while I joined the Forestry Service in 1970 working as a hunter on animal control in the Kaimai Ranges and on Raoul Island. In 1973 I joined the NZ Police and served 20 years, being invalided out with an injury sustained while arresting a violent offender...

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