The Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and Paralympics New Zealand teamed up last week for a special fundraiser for New Zealand's disabled athletes.

The Spirit Of Gold exhibition - a collection of paintings of para-athletes by artist Amber Stephens - was on display at Mud Ducks Cafe, and the Chamber of Commerce held an auction of items to raise money for para-athletes.

Rachel Froggatt from Paralympics New Zealand said the organisation was focussed on getting athletes to the Paralympics, to be held in September this year in Brazil, following the Olympic Games.

"But we also do a lot of work in the area of social change and in trying to increase understanding and acceptance of disability. So we use the success of our athletes to inspire people."


Ms Froggatt said Ms Stephens, an emerging artist, visited Paralympics New Zealand a year ago, bringing with her a portrait she had painted of swimmer Sophie Pascoe.

"She said, 'I'd like to give you this painting - you can auction it, keep it, whatever.'"

Paralympics New Zealand responded by asking Ms Stephens if she would paint 11 more para-athletes.

"She spent eight months on this project and she donated her time, her talent, her resources. She met with all the athletes face-to-face and spent time with them to create these 12 amazing portraits."

The Spirit of Gold exhibition has been travelling the country since it was launched last November.

The exhibition pieces will be auctioned later in the year.