Who are we, and how do we help?


We are 18 full and part-time staff, joined by volunteers, businesses, sponsors, organisations, individuals, and trustees. We are a community who cares deeply about independent living, and improving the quality of rehabilitation for Kiwis affected by spinal cord injury or impairment (SCI). This is regardless of whether someone is a new patient in hospital or many years post injury and living in the community.

It’s no exaggeration to say we help save lives. We make futures brighter, as Sharon will share with you in the video below.



We offer three key services from the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, and the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit in Otara. These services are free of charge to anyone in NZ who has an SCI.


Vocational Rehabilitation Service (Kaleidoscope):

  • Started in Christchurch in 2003 and Auckland in 2006 to provide specialised education, career planning and work support to both newly injured/ill persons and to those in the community, who have been living with an SCI for a period of time.
  • Before we created this greatly needed program less than 13% of people with an SCI returned to work. Now, recent exit surveys have over 90% of Kaleidoscope clients stating they are ready to return to work!
  • Has delivered 7000 hours of vocational support to over 1000 people with an SCI in NZ.


Peer and Family Support Service (Connecting People :

  • Helps those with SCI and their families by delivering a calm, assured, perspective on the life changing situation they now face.
  • Connects people with peers and families who are of similar age, location, gender, and level of injury or type of SCI.
  • Helps people discover what the possibilities are, and how to reach for them.
  • Has over 8000 conversations with those affected by SCI each year.


Alan Bean Centre Library Service:

  • Is a one stop shop for SCI information.
  • Has a unique and comprehensive collection of resources on disability and rehabilitation.
  • Provides computer training for those with disabilities
  • Produces world class publications and multimedia including ‘Back on Track’ for SCI rehabilitation and ‘Head Space’ for brain injury. Headspace was endorsed by ACC as the single most important resource for people who have acquired a brain injury.


Other Points of Interest

  • 80% of the New Zealand Spinal Trust’s funding comes from donations and grants. The remaining 20% comes from public sector organisations such as ACC, MOH and the DHB’s.
  • The NZ Spinal Trust’s ‘Burwood Volunteers’ oversees the 130+Burwood Hospital Volunteers.
  • Each year there are around 130 to 180 people diagnosed with SCI in New Zealand, with 80 to 130 receiving specialist acute SCI services.


You can learn more about the Trust’s beginnings and the remarkable Professor Alan Clarke here.


Our Philosophy

It’s great to be alive!

Our Vision

A world where human diversity is valued.

Our Mission

Empowering independent, confident, productive lives,
right now!

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