The 2016 Attitude Awards celebrated the many outstanding achievements of New Zealand artists, athletes, young people, and game-changers living with disabilities. Having grown bigger than some of the country’s other premier awards, this year’s black tie gala for more than 700 people was held at Auckland’s ASB Arena and hosted by TV news presenter Simon Dallow.

Photo from the Attitude Awards 2016.

Debra Lampshire – ACC Supreme Attitude Award.

This year, the ACC Supreme Attitude Award was awarded to Debra Lampshire, a woman dedicated to driving change in New Zealand’s mental health system. Overcoming strong competition from champions in seven other categories, Debra first took out the Attitude Making a Difference category and was then selected for the top honour.

Debra started hearing “voices” at the age of six. She was eventually committed to Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital at 17 and remained there for 18 years. On her release, Debra took medication and went between boarding houses and other psychiatric facilities. She never believed she would be able to live independently.

A conversation about restoring cars prompted Debra to start thinking about restoring herself. She began to work on her anxiety and depression and to get the “voices” under control.

These days, the Aucklander is sought to speak at international conferences, and on the way she encourages people to be their own “life coach” and to live independently.

In her working life, Debra has dual roles – as a professional teaching fellow at the University of Auckland, and as manager for a project on psychological interventions for enduring mental illness for the Auckland District Health Board.

Debra helps lead the development of psychological strategies for positive symptoms of psychosis and is the first non-clinician to do so. She is also a senior tutor with The University of Auckland’s Centre for Mental Health Research and Policy Development, and current Chairperson for ISPS New Zealand (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis), where she is also on the international body.

Photo from the Attitude Awards 2016.

Tupou Seini Neiufi – Emerging Athlete Award.

Tupou Seini Neiufi first watched Paralympian gold medallist swimmer Sophie Pascoe compete in 2011 and was immediately inspired to take up competitive swimming.

She quickly proved to be extremely talented in the water and just five years later, Tupou (15) is herself a Paralympian and also a finalist for an Attitude Award.


When she was two years old, Tupou was hit by a speeding car, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury and caused left hemiplegia (paralysis) of her left side. Her success has come through a lot of hard work and determination.

Her training schedule involves gym and swimming training six days a week for two to four hours per day. In her second year of high school, she says when it comes to balancing school and swimming, it’s hard: “I focus on school when I am there and when I go to training I totally focus on swimming.”

It’s that kind of work ethic combined with her success that has seen her awarded the Emerging Athlete Award.

Photo from the Attitude Awards 2016.

Eilish Wilkes – Youth Spirit Award.

Eilish Wilkes knows intimately what it feels like to have to go to hospital and how scary that can be for youngsters.

Eilish was diagnosed with an opto- and hypothalamic glioma cancer (an irremovable cancerous brain tumour) at the age of two. Her condition required immediate neurosurgery and 18 months of chemotherapy. The tumour has resulted in Eilish being legally blind, however she still has a little sight and can use a magnifier to enlarge text for reading.

Hospital visits didn’t finish for Eilish at that point. In the following years, she underwent more chemotherapy and radiation treatment and at age nine suffered a brain bleed. Last year, she was diagnosed with SMART (stroke-like migraine attacks after radiation therapy) syndrome and she deals with chronic fatigue and pain.

Eilish’s health issues led to her attending the Northern Health School, and last year she studied a creative writing course. She soon realised a book to help children and their parents get through the daunting experience of going to hospital would make it “less scary for them.”

Now the 20-year-old Glenfield resident has done something to help. Her book, Hospital Happenings, is a children’s book about the experience of going to hospital and the three basic procedures most children will experience at some stage – check-up, blood test and X-ray.

The book, years of volunteering for CanTeen, and working alongside the Ministry of Health towards improving the quality of care for young cancer patients have seen Eilish selected as the winner of the Youth Spirit category at the 2016 Attitude Awards.

Photo from the Attitude Awards 2016.

Guy Harrison – Attitude People’s Choice Award.

When Guy Harrison takes to the track he quite often finishes in last place.

But the 15-year-old, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three after febrile convulsions, knows it’s not a true reflection of his talent. That happens when he competes against able-bodied athletes.

The Napier teenager holds the NZ Men’s Open Para 800m and 1500m records, both of which he gained at the start of this year. However, a lack of middle distance runners around the country in his T35 category means he runs and trains with an able-bodied squad.

Rather than worry about where he places against his friends in the squad, Guy concentrates on his times. He wants to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, but the 800m and 1500m are not currently catered for at the Paralympics, with only 100m, 200m and 400m on offer in his classification.

However, if running doesn’t work out, Guy has other sporting abilities that may see him represent New Zealand. He already represents Hawke’s Bay in golf as a member of the Junior Golf Academy and he has won the triathlon in the Halberg Junior Disability Games three years in a row.

“Sport gives me freedom. It brings me happiness,” Guy says.

This attitude and drive to achieve higher honours have seen Guy named as the winner of the People’s Choice Award at the 2016 Attitude Awards.

Other Attitude Award winners are: Graeme Porter (Sporting Spirit), Ese Aumalesulu (Spirit of Attitude), Rodney Bell (Artistic Achievement), John Burton (Entrepreneur), Genera Ltd (ACC Employer), and Anne Hawker (Attitude Hall of Fame).

Sponsors supporting the Awards include: ACC, Westpac, Drake Medox, Ministry of Health, Barfoot & Thompson, Manawanui inCharge, Healthcare NZ, KPMG, Lion Foundation, Ricoh, Air New Zealand and New Zealand On Air. ACC has been the principal sponsor for nine years.