When Jack Tauwhare broke his neck playing rugby league 40 years ago, life changed irrevocably for him and his wife, Maria. Now a tetraplegic, Jack relies on Maria and a range of specialist equipment to move between his bed and wheelchair each day.
“It was very hard, way back then,” Jack recalls. “But since then, I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve coached rugby league teams for 13 years – kids, adults, females, representative teams. I played a lot of different sports when I was child, but rugby league was one of my passions and I just wanted to give back to the sport.”
Maria’s devotion and support has made all the difference, but she has faced her own cancer battle in recent years which has made the physical demands of caring for Jack even harder. The couple had a single ceiling track installed in their Christchurch home some years ago to help lift Jack out of bed. But it had a very limited range and using it was akin to precision parking.
“It was set up in one position only so we always had to adjust the bed to the track or move the furniture around and out of the way so I could get up and into my chair. It was just a big hassle.”