I have just moved into my new home at the airport. And who should be working next door but the John Funnell. I must admit when I first discovered this, I was rather star-struck. 

All the way from Taupo, John is here due to the unfortunate grounding of the M/V Rena a few weeks back. He and his team, which includes his son Hamish, are providing helicopter support assisting with the salvage work of the ship. 

 Helping wash John's helicopter at the end of a day of Rena salvage work. 

Helping wash John's helicopter at the end of a day of Rena salvage work. 

Many people say I am extraordinary for my achievements but I always say that there is nothing special about the things I've done. Anybody can work towards being an accomplished athlete, fly an aeroplane, gain a black belt in martial arts, sky dive, scuba dive or race cars. People just think I am extraordinary because I have done all that without any legs. 

But John Funnell... Here is a man who has many times risked his own life to save other strangers. He flew a single-engine helicopter over 1,200kms of ocean to the remote Campbell Island to rescue a man who would have otherwise died from a shark attack. This distance was unprecedented anywhere in the world and John had done so at considerable risk. 

Right next door to me is a man who shipped his helicopter all the way from New Zealand to Banda Aceh to help with victim relief after the devastating tsunami on Boxing Day of 2004. 

And right here in New Zealand, John continues to save lives. 

This is a man I call extraordinary and he is definitely inspirational. 

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