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In 1965 as an up-and-coming 16 year old rugby player, Bunmei Okabe was involved in a scrum mishap which left him paralyzed from the waist but with some degree of movement in his upper body. Towards the end of his two year hospitalisation, he received a surprise visit by four members of the New Zealand Universities Rugby Football team.

The visit and encouragement of the team members left a lasting impression on him and helped him gain courage to get on with and make the most of his life in his changed circumstances.

Mr Okabe has since become a successful artist specialising in clown paintings, believing clowns bring people out of themselves (in the same way that he has fought to overcome the physical constraints of his body) and encourage people to see the best of life.

Now 61 years of age, Mr Okabe intends to visit New Zealandto thank the team members personally and express his gratitude to them through the exhibition of around 50 of his paintings at Pataka.

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