Fiona Allan, left, at the Celebration Project event with Sophie Pascoe, right ©Getty Images

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) held its final community event as part of its Celebration Project - which recognised 39 athletes in Christchurch with less than six months to go until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The event in the city was the largest held as part of the project and welcomed the family and friends of the 39 Paralympians who were part of a ceremony at the University of Canterbury.

The Celebration Project acknowledges the 209 Paralympians who have competed for New Zealand at the Games.

Since 2019, the initiative has included events in Auckland twice, Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Queenstown, Wellington, Dunedin and Bonn in Germany.

Bonn is the home of the International Paralympic Committee.

Each Paralympian is assigned an official Paralympic number, unique to them, which notes chronologically when they represented New Zealand at the Games.

"We were privileged to have 39 Paralympians along with their families, friends and supporters, representing New Zealand Paralympic teams from Tel Aviv 1968 through to the most recent Rio 2016 Paralympics," said Fiona Allan, PNZ's chief executive.

"Tonight has been a wonderful celebration of our incredible legacy as we celebrated our early pioneering Paralympians such as Paralympian #4 Graham Condon, #5 Rex Fattorini and #15 John Stott, through to Paralympian #166 Sophie Pascoe, New Zealand's most decorated Paralympian with an incredible 15 Paralympic medals."

Scott Martlew is one of the newest Paralympians, having made his debut at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Scott Martlew is one of the newest Paralympians, having made his debut at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Other early Paralympians recognised included athlete and table tennis player Doug Moore who competed at Toronto 1976, while skier Peter Baddeley, swimmer Chris Moran and shooter Dave Tarrant all debuted in 1980.

The 1984 class included skiers Ed Bickerstaff, Patricia Craig and Mark Edwards, swimmer Roly Chrichton, athlete Michael O'Callaghan and shooters Alison Smith and Colin Willis.

Canoeist Scott Martlew and swimmer Hamish McLean are the newest Paralympians among the 39, having debuted at Rio 2016.

Equestrian's Anthea Dixon debuted at London 2012, while boccia's Kerri Bonner, cyclist Annaliisa Farrell and Pascoe all debuted at Beijing 2008.

The project was funded and supported by the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Toyota New Zealand.

To date, New Zealand has won 90 Paralympic gold medals, as well as 63 silver and 67 bronze.