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May 22, 2017 | by  | in Token Cripple |
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Token Cripple

I am fourteen or so lying on a table for an x-ray. This is a familiar prone position, I lie and look up at the machine and breathe out, wait for the gentle click, the light that makes me feel like I am being photocopied. I notice the body of the machine has been decorated with bold, cheerful stickers to entertain and distract small children while they lie there — stars, smiley faces, clownfish; the usual suspects.

This is a familiar event. Since I was born ten weeks early and with Cerebral Palsy there was always a concern of hip-dysplasia, where your hips come out of their sockets, and scoliosis, curvature of the spine. The scoliosis has been aggravated by spending the large part of every day since I started school seated in my wheelchair leaving me stooped and shorter than both my identical twin and younger sister. My hips however have stayed firmly in place. Every year when this is reported I feel a little proud of them for exceeding expectations.


Being born with a disability is to have a body that is full of potential. A body perpetually in a state of becoming. A state that is more accentuated than the usual ebbs and flows of living because more people talk it about more often. My body has always existed in relation to a body it could have been (able-bodied like my twin’s) and/or one it could now become (more or less able relative to itself). In both cases the desired direction was towards more normal.

Particularly when I was still growing, the objective of doctors, physios, and parents was to get closer to this elusive measure. Though my parents never wanted me to feel like having a disability was a “bad thing” per se, they also wanted to maximise the number of ways I could be independent from them in the future. They had that expectation of me just as they did of their other kids, part of my being normal.

Being born with a disability also means that my abnormal body is normal. Not in comparison to other bodies around me, or what it could or might have been, but that it is normal for me to inhabit. As a general rule I trust it to function well albeit within a different set of parameters to other bodies.

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He Tāonga

:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this