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The Resilience Project: Patrick Bronte launched a documentary website while grappling with disability

This story is part of The Resilience Project, a Stuff and Sunday Star-Times investigation into how people have survived life shocks.

When the sun rose on December 27 1996 it woke the high-spirited 16-year-old Patrick Bronte at his family home near Waipukurau.

By the time the sun set behind the Ruahine ranges he was tetraplegic. Bronte, now 40, broke his neck while he and friends were diving into the Waipawa river, on a stinking hot Hawke’s Bay afternoon.

“You're lying there thinking 'right, I'm young but my life is over,” he says from his wheelchair, in a column of sunlight in his Palmerston North home.

“You hear what the doctor's are saying with your conscious mind, but your subconscious mind is wanting to fight that. When they say you can't walk you're thinking 'oh yeah, with a bit of rehab I'll get there'.

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