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An awe-inspiring autobiography

“He has weathered storms I can barely conceive of, endured hardships and belittlement, ignorance, and stupidity.

“Through it all, he has maintained his dignity, his sanity, and his love of his fellow man.”

This excerpt is taken from the foreword of Ian McDonald’s autobiography, written by actor and NZ Order of Merit recipient Peter Elliot.

It’s safe to say McDonald – a prominent figure in Greytown’s sporting community, owner of the Greyfriars Motel and now a published author – deserves a break.

But as suggested by the title of his newly printed autobiography, Life Isn’t Fair – but I’ll Have a Bloody Good Crack at It, McDonald certainly isn’t sitting around waiting for one.

He never intended to write an entire book – it just blossomed out of a Covid-19 lockdown project.

“During the first lockdown, I started writing a few notes,” McDonald said.

“Those notes turned into chapters, and those chapters turned into a book.”

Three years later, that book – which covers McDonald’s prolific work in sport management and disability advocacy – is now published and available for purchase.

McDonald was born with arthrogryposis, a condition affecting the joints, and said he has no time for people who complain about various hardships and woes.

“It just annoys me when I hear people go, ‘Oh, it’s not fair’ – well, build a bridge and get over it,” he said.

“Apart from ACC after my hip operation and when I broke my ankle, I’ve never really stuck my hand out for anything.”

McDonald was referring to a hip replacement operation 12 years ago during which the femoral nerve in his good leg was damaged, leaving it “effectively paralysed”.

Already navigating life with limited mobility and movement due to arthrogryposis, this operation permanently consigned McDonald to a wheelchair, a setback he has tackled like a pro.

But in much the same way McDonald has rolled with the punches his whole life, adjusting to life on wheels was no different, he said.

“It has its good points and its bad points.

“The good thing is I can still go for walks, and I can go for however long the battery will let me!”

McDonald’s wheelhouse is anything sports related, although baseball is a particular speciality, one that’s described in the foreword as his “raison d’etre”.

In 2018 McDonald was the recipient of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fellowship, which enabled him to research communications in baseball management in New York. He now sits on the trust’s board.

As he has noted in his autobiography, having taken on life with a physical disability from birth, McDonald has never known any other way of being – and he doesn’t let it slow him down.

“I just get on with life and do the best with what I’ve been given. I’m not backwards in coming forward, and if I want something, I work out how I’m going to achieve it,” he said.

“Despite not being taken seriously by many employers, coaches, managers, etc because of my disability and by ultimately proving them wrong – this is my life.”

Life’s Not Fair – But I’ll Have a Bloody Good Crack at It is currently available from Greytown retailer Vibrance Gifts and Soft Furnishings for a late July delivery, although McDonald said it’s his intention to have it stocked by other Wairarapa retailers, too.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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