Our Patrons

As stand-out contributors in their chosen fields, our Patrons champion our cause through their networks and to the wider public.
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Toni Street is a well respected and highly popular broadcast journalist, and television personality.
She can be seen every weeknight co-hosting TV ONE’s current affairs show, Seven Sharp alongside veteran broadcaster Mike Hosking.

Toni and her twin brother, Lance (who died at age 18 months from Leukaemia), were born in New Plymouth. She grew up in Taranaki, and attended New Plymouth Girls’ High School where she was head girl in her last year. Toni won a sporting scholarship to Lincoln University, Christchurch where she played cricket and studied commerce.

After graduation, Toni completed a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Canterbury University that led to a six-month internship at TVNZ’s newsroom in 2006. From there she was appointed to the ONE News sports desk where she worked as a reporter, presenter and host of major sporting events. Toni was a roving reporter at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hosted the International netball tests, tennis’ Heineken Open and ASB Classics, and most recently the America’s Cup in San Francisco.

In 2012, Toni went on to co-host TV ONE Saturday Breakfast and then in 2013 made the transition to the weekday Breakfast show. She was invited to co-present Seven Sharp shortly afterwards. Toni also has a regular slot commentating on NewstalkZB, debating the weeks’ news every Friday with Mike Hosking and is a fill-in on ‘The Hits’ morning show.

Toni is married to ex North Harbour halfback Matt France and they have two daughters, Juliette, who was born in October 2012 and Mackenzie who was born in March 2015.

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Lance Anthony O’Sullivan (ONZM) is the most successful jockey in New Zealand history. As an apprentice under the guidance of his father Dave, O’Sullivan won a total of 181 races, scoring his first victory on Her Highness in 1980. O’Sullivan went on to win the New Zealand Jockey Premiership a record 12 times, with a record 193 wins in the 2001-02 season. With an outstanding international reputation, O’Sullivan raced in Hong Kong, Japan, Turkey, Australia, Macau and Singapore and rode winners in all of these countries. His Japan Cup win on Horlicks in 1989 was a career highlight.

O’Sullivan is now retired from race riding and acts as an ambassador for the TAB, including TV work on TAB’s Trackside racing channel. A move by his brother Paul to train in Hong Kong means Lance has also taken on a new challenge as trainer at the family’s Wexford Stables in Matamata and – as with his results as a jockey — he is proving a formidable opponent. O’Sullivan is supported by his beautiful wife Bridgette and daughters Caitlin and Georgia.

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New Zealand rugby star Richie McCaw teamed up with the CatWalk Trust in March 2007 and immediately made an impact with both the organisation and its supporters.

“Spinal cord injuries have a really serious impact on not only the person who’s been hurt but also on their family and friends. I’m really happy to lend my support to the CatWalk Trust to help raise funds to find a cure,” Richie said at the time of joining.

On the field, Richie McCaw has carved a stellar rugby career. The openside flanker was born and raised in Otago, where he started in the game as a seven year old. He now plays his rugby out of Christchurch and is widely regarded as the world’s best in his position. But it’s not all glamour and high profile lifestyles – Richie McCaw also has a strong sense of social responsibility and takes time to speak with and meet a wide variety of community organisations. Away from rugby, Richie appreciates the freedom of movement he can achieve through flight – he’s a keen aviator and went solo in a glider at Omarama in 2006.

“I love to fly and I enjoy making the most of life. I certainly appreciate that the loss of movement through Spinal Cord Injuries would be devastating. The quicker a cure is found, the better.”

Other activities which Richie enjoys in his increasingly rare leisure time are fishing and spending time with his friends and family.

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Rick Acland remains in good fettle despite reports of his retirement! He has resigned from the Burwood Spinal Unit, but continues to consult for the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit.

He remains very enthusiastic about the research being carried out by the SCIRF team in Auckland. He lauds the good work being done by both Units in the rapid retrieval and stabilisation of persons with acutely injured spinal cords in the hope of getting better outcomes. He remains cautious about the potential benefits of stem cell implants but follows the experimental use of electrical stimulation with great interest.

Initially a Trustee, Dr Rick is now our Medical Patron.

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Hon Dame Lowell Goddard served as a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand from 1995 – 2015.

She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1988.

In her early years Dame Lowell practised at the Independent Bar in Auckland before joining the Crown Law Office in Wellington as Crown Counsel and subsequently as Deputy Solicitor-General.

During 2007 and 2012 she chaired the Independent Police Conduct Authority and from 2010 to 2016 was a member of the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT). In that capacity, Dame Lowell took part in field inspections of conditions of detention in countries such as Cambodia and the Ukraine. She also acted as the SPT’s focal point in the Asia Pacific Region.

Dame Lowell has been involved in a number of public inquiries in New Zealand and in February 2015 was appointed by the British Government to Chair the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), a role she undertook until August 2016.

She is a Distinguished Alumnus of Auckland University and recipient of the 1990 Commemoration Medal and the NZ Suffrage medal. In 2014 she was made a DNZM for services to the law.

Dame Lowell is honoured to be a Patron of the CatWalk Trust, and was formerly a member of the Grants Committee of that Trust.

She is also a Vice Patron of the Mistletoe Trust, which provides educational programs for children and is Chair of the Mistletoe Charitable Foundation.


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Duane is based in Wellington and is in senior management for the ANZ Banking Group. Married to Shayne and with two children – Jake 18yrs and Lauren 15yrs, Duane was a competitive triathlete until 1991 when a spinal tumour resulted in him becoming and incomplete paraplegic. Turning his focus to Paralympic sport, Duane was a NZ representative and medallist in the 1996 Paralympic team for swimming and has competed successfully for NZ in many international competitions. He was awarded the ONZM in 1997 for services to sport and in 1998 he was awarded the Order of Merit for services to Paralympics NZ.

A current Governing Board Member of the International Paralympic Committee and a Board Member of Paralympics NZ, Duane has recently has been appointed by IOC President Bach to the Evaluation Commission for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad. “I am thrilled to be elected to the 2024 Evaluation Commission and I look forward to working to provide the best possible competition environment for all athletes in 2024 in order to experience the feeling of victory and achieving success.”

After being approached by CatWalk Trustee Grant Sharman, we are thrilled that Duane has agreed to become part of the team and bringing such a comprehensive range of business, sporting and personal skills to help CatWalk.

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By the age of 15 years, Sarah had gained international attention with a second place at the World Championships, and it’s fair to say Sarah was dominating the sport! In the 2008 season UCI Rounds, Sarah won seven races, came 2nd in one race and didn’t race two races.

She was ranked number one in the world by the UCI in 2008, and was one of the favorites to win the BMX women’s event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in the end she finished 4th. The 2012 London Olympics saw Sarah winning silver medal and cementing her place as New Zealand’s greatest achieving BMX rider. The CatWalk Trust was absolutely delighted when, in 2010, Sarah joined our team as a CatWalk Patron.

“I love & live BMX. I started racing at the age of 10 for some fun and so I wouldn’t be bored watching my brother anymore. Since then I have been to more than 20 countries and lived out of a suitcase for a lot of the last eight years, all with my bike beside me. I look forward to working with CatWalk Trust in developing awareness in spinal cord injuries as the people I have dealt with are an inspiration to us all”

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As a boy, Dion Nash lived from Dargaville in the north of the North Island to Dunedin in the south of the South – but everywhere, he managed to indulge his love of sport, a love which would eventually provide him with the greatest honour of all: captaincy of his country. As a child, young Dion enjoyed a mixed sporting parentage.

“Mum’s side are cricketers, Dad’s were boxers and rugby players.” He began playing cricket at 7 when “everyone else was doing it and it filled in time until the rugby season!”

But the summer code quickly became a permanent passion. Since then, it’s ended up taking him all over the world playing for New Zealand, Northern Districts, Otago, Middlesex and Auckland.

“It’s been a fantastic experience to tour countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the West Indies, Australia, the UK, Zimbabwe. It is always a privilege to represent your country as a sportsman.” He captained New Zealand on more than one occasion and was a regular vice captain for incumbent Stephen Fleming. Dion’s philosophies are simple: “The highs were winning, the lows getting injured! That’s so frustrating.”

Injury was a significant factor for this fine all-rounder – imagine what would he have achieved had injury not played so profound a role? Nash announced his retirement from all cricket in May 2002 having taken 93 test wickets and scored 729 test runs. Away from cricket, Dion enjoys the guitar, reading and movies.

“I agreed to be a patron for CatWalk, after some old cricket friends told me what Catriona was doing. I immediately said yes. My mother has been a paraplegic for over 45 years, and I have grown up with an intimate knowledge of what being a paraplegic means. If there is any chance of finding solutions or medical breakthroughs we should be jumping at the chance to apply it. There’s quote from Shakespeare that fits well with all this: Nothing comes from doing nothing.”

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Born and bred in Wairarapa, Aaron Slight went on to become one of New Zealand’s leading motorsport exponents, with an outstanding career as a motorcycle professional. But Slight didn’t have things handed to him easily: his first O.E. in 1986 was with money he saved to try road racing in Australia. He went on to race all over the world, based out of Monaco. His humble beginnings in the sport had kicked off at 12, and although his family initially had no interest in the sport themselves, Aaron says:

“I was extremely persistent and this led to the family ‘giving in’ little by little until eventually they were completely immersed into the motorcycle scene. Since then, they’ve been great.”

After that, Aaron was off and racing – and hasn’t stopped since.

“Asia, Europe, Australasia, the United Kingdom, travel has been a very special part of my career. The kind of learning that this gives you is irreplaceable. It was a huge challenge and being part of the job was more work than play! It was a privilege to have been and experienced so many wonderful cultures and people. The one thing that was always the same was the fans: never ending and always happy to see you at their ‘home’ race.”

Aaron’s highs – “Winning races, competing well, personal satisfaction and enjoyment, the longevity of my career.” His other passions include road cycling – “I am involved in a lot of cycling within Wellington and compete in the Taupo Lake Challenge every year” – music, fitness and healthy living.

“Motorsport is obviously an extreme sport and often unfortunately results in extreme injury. I have seen close competitors suffer serious Spinal Cord Injuries. It would be great if I can help.”

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Mark Todd was voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation. From small pony club beginnings Mark went on to win two Olympic Games gold medals, (the first rider to win successive individual three-day-event titles for 60 years), and also won two bronzes. He won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials on three occasions and the Burghley three-day trials five times. Mark also won gold medals as a member of the New Zealand team at the World Championships in 1990 (Stockholm) and 1998 (Rome), the European Championships in 1997 (when it was open to the world), plus 20 or more other international events. In 1995, he rode 2/3 of the gruelling Badminton CCI**** course with only one stirrup after his stirrup leather broke, a feat that impressed even the most experienced riders.

Mark Todd is not only a great eventer, he also competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics in the sport of show jumping. Mark has been a keen supporter of The CatWalk SCI Trust since our inaugural fundraiser in 2005 including stepping up and completing the 2010 New York Marathon as part of Team CatWalk.

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Since joining the team in 2005, Zara Tindall has proved herself to be an outstanding international patron for CatWalk and has wholeheartedly put her support behind the quest to find a cure for Spinal Cord Injury. Zara, herself an elite standard equestrienne in the United Kingdom, has claimed European and World Championship titles in the sport of Three Day Eventing, having won both titles with Toytown, a horse she trained herself from novice standard to international competition.

In December 2006, Zara was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year – a prestigious title voted on by millions of tv viewers who recognised both her talent and her bubbly personality. This represented a unique ‘double’ for her family, Zara’s mother Princess Anne having also won the award in 1971. Zara also made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year’s Honours list and has now set her sights on competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“It is both a privilege and a pleasure for me to serve as International Patron for The CatWalk Trust. The cause of Spinal Cord Injury is one close to my heart and since being approached by Catriona Williams and her team, I have seen the charity go from strength to strength. CatWalk has set itself some ambitious goals – but knowing the dedication of its supporters, I share their confidence that a cure is not far away. I wish CatWalk ongoing success in its campaign for a cure.”

Make a difference, today.

Spinal cord injury does not have to be a life sentence. A cure is within reach.
Your support helps to bring that cure closer.
Thank you.