August 14, 1999 - this was the last day Dan Buckingham could walk. He was 18 years old and a first year Otago Uni student when he put his head in the wrong place in a scrum during a game of club rugby, and broke his neck.
One of Dan's passions is shifting perceptions of what it means to live a full life with a disability. He believes allowing people to be curious and intrigued about disability is a big part of this - as such, he speaks openly about breaking his neck, including what it was like for him and his family, and what it has meant since.
Sport: A massive part of his life following his injury was getting back into sport. Representing New Zealand with the 'Wheel Blacks' for 16 years, as well as playing for club teams in NZ, Australia, Canada and the USA, means he has a wealth of stories and lessons from the world of high performance sport. He's able to cover the aspects that can make or break a winning campaign, as well as talk about the extreme highs and lows that come with it. The highest of highs of course was the 18 month campaign that lead to a gold medal at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
In 2017, after retiring from wheelchair rugby, Dan decided to fill this athletic void and fundraise for research into spinal cord injury by completing the New York marathon. It turns out he was quite good at this new athletic pursuit, and in 2018, then again in 2019, he broke the New Zealand record for the half marathon. He continues to train and race.
Dan is now deep into a career in the media that has included presenting in a range of places from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, to the tough sights of quake-stricken Christchurch. Dan is now General Manager of the production company Attitude Pictures, which focuses on diversity. Still fronting the camera from time to time, Dan was the lead presenter for TVNZ's coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. He loves geeking it up about the media - specifically, how much of an exciting, changing & challenging landscape it is right now.
Outside of work and sport, Dan has sat on a number of boards, and currently holds the positions of Chair of The Attitude Trust and Deputy Chair of Auckland Council's Disability Advisory Panel.
Dan uses a wheelchair, but he is a far cry from the cliché inspirational speaker who lives with disability. His speaking comes with messages, and presents a raw, real look at a life well lived, where plenty of lessons have been learned along the way. Dan is a magnetic speaker, who has the ability to capture and engage an audience for all the right reasons. He is a speaker with substance and a speaker for a robust crowd, a crowd who likes to think deeper than what’s on the surface.
Dan Buckingham | New Zealand Herald Interview