Mike Girling-Buther

My name is Mike Girling-Butcher and I am a fifty-two year old c.4/5 tetraplegic. I have been a tetraplegic for 23 years old as my daughter was three weeks old when I sustained the injury during a club match in Wellington.

I believe I have achieved a lot since my injury. Since 1988 I have achieved tertiary qualifications within education and communication. I have worked as a programme maker for a local access radio station, worked as a publications officer at Boys' High, encouraged the NZRU to acknowledge spinal injury, do something positive about its effects and I have helped to raise two well adjusted teenagers. But I want to achieve more because I believe I have the skills to be a good role model (particularly among wayward youth and I am determined to work a 25 hour week and give back to New Zealand).

The time is 4 am on June 22nd and at the time of writing I have been doing a Te reo paper at the local wananga between 6 pm and 9.30pm. Since returning home I have searched the job web sites and drafted a covering letter for a board of trustees. I have stayed up tonight to circumvent the curfew of 10 pm when the care-giver arrives to put me to bed. Indeed, I have stayed up many nights until dawn to get around the restrictions of rising at 7.30 am and going to bed between 10 and 11 pm. Where most readers would have 24 hours of choice, I get 10 hours. 

As I am an ACC recipient I do have the option of having sleepovers. I believe I lost a quality of life when my wife left me in 1996. Since that time I have had depression, suffered many illnesses and spent hours on my own. But I am determined to not let this injury get the better of me. I want to give back to New Zealand and I want to either work within education (as I was teacher before my accident) or communications as I excellent skills in this area.

My dream was to work within Radio New Zealand as a researcher, programme maker and interviewer. When I first entered the media industry I had visions of being another Maggie Barry, Linda Clark and the current Kathryn Ryan. In spite of submitting some very good radio material I am yet to be successful.

Like many who have lived with para or tetraplegia I have endured countless urinary tracts, hospital visits/stays, nerve root pain not to mention the many restrictions. I believe my life improved dramatically after I had colostomy surgery done as it removed the grind and grist of bowel evacuations. But this surgery was done only 5 years ago and should have been done a lot sooner.

Make no mistake I couldn't have lived this life if it were not for the tax payer, ACC and the generosity of health and legal professionals. If there was any time for charitable organisations such as the Rugby Foundation and the no:8 rugby community to give, it is now. We are all aware of the pain metered out by the economic recession not to mention the present government's punitive agenda. I find it rich that the present government chooses to criticise and punish me for I went without good entitlements believing that they were unsustainable.

I believe I have been a responsible consumer but I believe I can do better as I have dreams, I want to work and achieve many goals as there is much to learn and time to give. Readers, I cannot achieve these aims without your help!