A New Zealand man who edited a documentary using his knuckles has won a prestigious international award.

Jai Waite has won the Apollo Award for his editing of documentary Jimmy Wants a Job. Waite lives with quadriplegia after a swimming accident. He received the award in Singapore and was flying back to Auckland this morning.

The film covers 22-year-old Jimmy Rae Brown's search for a job and meaningful life. The film was told in Brown's voice.

Waite, who received the award on Wednesday, said he greatly enjoyed working with Brown. "The story itself is great because Jimmy is such a great character and that really helped out."


Waite was full of praise for his colleagues at Attitude Pictures everyone who worked on the documentary. The award was made at the Broadcast Asia Conference. Waite said initially the team barely gave a second thought to their entry, considering the huge size of the Asia-Pacific region.

Waite is a Paralympic Gold medallist in Wheelchair Rugby and was in the early stages of training to become a track wheelchair sprinter.

He said he was looking for a new wheelchair — the one he trained with currently was a hand-me-down from a veteran athlete.

He said Attitude was about showing what people with disabilities were able to achieve. "It's about the person, before the disability."

Attitude's chief executive Robyn Scott-Vincent was this month made a Member of the Order of Merit for services to television and people with disabilities.

Originally from Taranaki, Waite is married with two daughters. He joined Attitude Pictures in 2007 as an assistant editor. It was his first job after he broke his C56 vertebrae. Although he is paralysed from the chest down with limited function in his arms and hands he was able to edit as fast as anyone using his knuckles. Waite uses the Premier editing system.