Kiwi quadriplegics first in world to travel to the Invictus Games

Two Kiwis are expected to make history as the first quadriplegics to travel to the Invictus Games next week.

Until now, former defence personnel who have lost the use of all four limbs have found it hard to travel and compete in the games.

George Nepata and Grant Philip first met in 1989 in the Otara spinal unit, both paralysed in freak accidents.

Mr Nepata had been brought back from an army training exercise in Singapore, while Mr Philip's accident happened while on leave when he fell off a diving pontoon and hit his head on the ocean floor.

"Pretty much from a split second my life changed - face down in the water - I could hear my mates saying get up, get up and I couldn't do a thing," said Mr Philip.

He had to retrain in CAD computer-design and now those skills have given him a chance to compete again alongside former comrades at the Invictus Games - competing in archery with a bite control.

"It's a design I came up with, and then a friend who's an engineer put it together for us and then George [Nepata] wanted to give archery a go, so used my gear to try, and it worked out well. So then we got some more gear made as well," he said.

New Zealand will be the first team to travel with quadriplegics, but the lack of representation means Mr Philip and Mr Nepata will have to compete against others who have full core or arm strength, because there's no specific category for them.

But that doesn't mean they won't try to beat their able-bodied opponents as, after all, these two haven't let setbacks get in their way before.

"We've both been in a chair now for nearly 30 years and we are sort of used to that type of environment - the struggles and challenges that you have to deal with day by day," said Mr Nepata.

"Obviously pioneering what we're doing or what the New Zealand team is doing, and if we can advocate for further sports to cater for our abilities then that's going to be a bonus for the future of the Invictus Games," said Mr Philip.