Peter Allen works as a civilian logistics analyst for the NZ Army and has a degenerative eye condition which has not stopped him having a good life.
Ruahine nga maunga
Makaretu te awa ki te tai rawhiti
Rakautatahi te marae
Ngati Whatuiapiti raua ko Rangitane ki Takapau he iwi
Ko Peter Allen ahau
Aha the breath of life
Our mountain are the Ruahine ranges
The river to the east is Makaretu
Our home turf is Rakautatahi
I have ancestor connections with Whatuiapiti and Rangitane tribes
My name is Peter Allen
I live in Palmerston North with my wife Kahira and Year 13 daughter Kelly while our adult son lives in Takapau.
I work as a civilian logistics analyst for the NZ Army at Linton Military Camp and have done so for the last nine years.
I have an inherited degenerative eye condition called RP (retinitis pigmentosa). The light sensitive cells in the back of my eye (retina) unexpectedly and with no known reason why, die over a period of time. Therefore my eyesight has deteriorated from a 5 year-old as bad (glasses needed) to 30 year-old poor (limited driving) to 40 year-old Low Vision (moving around is difficult because of tunnel vision and now no driving) to 50 year-old Very Low Vision (cannot read standard text size writing, recognise people by facial features or with corrected lensesm read only from the third line up of an eye chart) to my future which will most likely be legally blind to light sensitive with no distinguishable imaging, to total blindness.
My silver lining – our children have not inherited my defective gene.
With that written I have been a lucky man. Caring family, good times in growing up, lots of sport, recreation and enjoyment, a working career, loving wife, healthy and “strong willed” children. Yes I have lived and coped with a disability which, in my early years, was challenging and embarrassing for me and now is even more challenging.
Nevertheless, the consistent input into my life of those who have surrounded me all these years has been understanding, sympathy and compassion. Many people have offered great support and assistance. People's attitude towards me is not a given; I believe I have earnt their respect so I am happy to say this has enabled me to have a good life.
Talking with friends and parents of disabled children and my disabled peers, there are so many who have not shared my good life outcome to date.
Observing my children’s reaction and able young friends and associates - many of their attitudes towards disabilities is very different to people of earlier generations. Because of those positive attitudes the time is right to change the way our disabled community should connect and engage in life. Many have had struggles, obstacles and disappointment. We can change that now.
My disabled experience, listening and comprehension skills, process, systems and analytical background, exposure to both positive and negative influences, good public speaking presenter, and a passion to better equip people with disabilities access to better physical, mental and emotional support, I can support change.
We can achieve this difficult and confronting change to the government and support agencies' roles in disabled peoples' lives. The outcome - we choose what is a fulfilling life for each of us to bring self-esteem and dignity - that will enable a good life.