Pascoe and Stedman named NZ Paralympic team leaders

6:31 am on 24 August 2021

The New Zealand Paralympic Team will join together tonight to mark the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and celebrate the announcement of Sophie Pascoe and William Stedman as Hāpai Kara.

William Stedman

Will Stedman Photo: Photosport

The New Zealand Team will not be attending the Opening Ceremony and as such the traditional role of flagbearers have been replaced with equivalent leadership roles.

The role of Hāpai Kara reflects the leadership of the role. A hāpai is a carrier or bearer, and comes from the whakataukī, 'Te amorangi ki mua, te hāpai ō ki muri.'

Literally translates to the priests in front, the bearers of provisions behind. Also explained as the balance of spiritual and physical needs. Kara can translate as a term of address to a friend; a flag, banner or ensign; or a request for support in times of conflict.

Sophie Pascoe says she's honoured and privileged to be named as Hāpai Kara.

"This is the first time that I have taken on a role such as this in the New Zealand Paralympic Team, and it is wonderful to have this opportunity here in Tokyo at my fourth Paralympic Games.

"I am an incredibly proud Kiwi taking on this leadership role with pride. I'm very excited for the Paralympics to commence and look forward to the team and I doing our very best as we know the entire country is right behind us."

New Zealand's Sophie Pascoe wins her 4th gold medal at the World Para Swimming Championships.

Sophie Pascoe Photo: Photosport

William Stedman says it's an honour especially alongside Pascoe.

"When I was first asked I was a bit surprised as I had not been expecting it but also very excited. It is great to be able to represent New Zealand in this way.

Chef de Mission Paula Tesoriero said: "Sophie and William have both excelled within their sports and are both the exemplar of our Paralympic values - courage, determination, inspiration, and equality. We are thrilled to announce their appointment as Hāpai Kara for the New Zealand Paralympic Team."

The New Zealand Paralympic team has decided to remain in its bubble rather than attend the opening ceremony in an effort to keep their team as safe as possible in light of growing Covid numbers in Tokyo.

"The Opening Ceremony is a wonderful occasion and we acknowledge that some people may be disappointed that we will not be attending it," Tesoriero said.

In addition to the appointment of two Hāpai Kara, three Para athletes have been selected to join Pascoe and Stedman to form a Para athlete group who will serve the role to provide an athlete voice to Chef de Mission Paula Tesoriero and the leadership group of the New Zealand Paralympic Team.

These athletes include Michael Johnson who will compete in his fifth Paralympic Games in Shooting, Cody Everson who is captain of the Wheel Blacks and Sarah Ellington making her Paralympic debut in Para cycling.

Competition starts tomorrow with swimmer Jesse Reynolds, the Wheel Blacks and cyclists Sarah Ellington and Anna Taylor in action.