A CHANCE meeting has given the Te Miha, Casey, and Kepa whānau a new lease of life
It was a hot January night and milk delivery man Kelly Te Miha had left exercise instructions at his cousin’s place so she and others could do a workout. The instructions said they should jog up and down the street.
At another house on the street Tūranga Health school health and fitness kaiāwhina Daiminn Kemp was sitting on his veranda thinking about what his boss had said that day. It was the school holidays and he had to find other whānau to work with until the kids came back.
And that’s when some of the Te Miha, Kepa and Casey whānau jogged past.
“I remember thinking ‘is this really happening?’” says Daiminn.
He spent the next 10 minutes watching the group walk and jog around the street. Deciding this was the project he’d been looking for he wandered over to the house they’d come out of. “Kia ora, I’m Daiminn, and I’m pretty sure Tūranga Health could help you.”
KELLY Te Miha, Ngati Porou, is a 33-year-old man on a mission. Having successfully ditched his heavy drinking and rediscovering his love of exercise, the former under-16 Poverty Bay winger, has been the catalyst for nearly 40 whānau to lose weight and stay healthy.
He has a full time job delivering milk, is a husband, and father to four busy sporty kids. Despite his own commitments Kelly began helping some cousins and nieces with some easy at-home exercises earlier this year. He says they were motivated - they just didn’t have the money for a gym membership.
“So I thought this was a good way to help. You don’t need money, there are still ways to work out.”
He’d go to their house every second night and guide them through a workout.
Kelly’s homestyle exercise sessions were a hit and more whānau kept turning up. They were beginning to outgrow the small Daphne St house they’d started in. So Kelly moved the sessions to Anzac Park and started a Whānaufit 2017 Facebook page to better keep in touch with everyone.
Cousins told aunties about the workouts. Nieces told brothers and sisters they were feeling great. And the whānau fitness group swelled from seven, to 12, to 40 at last count.
“They want more every day,” says Kelly who now works out with them six days a week doing a mix of cross training and Kaiti Hill runs. “Exercise doesn’t have to cost a lot. It just has to be fun and with other people.”
THE group includes cancer survivors, diabetes sufferers, and someone with gout. Some are overweight and others are just there because it makes them feel good and they want to support the kaupapa.
Now, with Tūranga Health’s help the fitness sessions also include circuits with equipment like kettle bells and weights. Tūranga Health has held short nutritional education sessions with the group and many of them have now seen a Tūranga Health nurse. Some whānau are considering a smoking cessation programme. And the YMCA Gisborne, where Kelly is studying to become a personal trainer, has provided spin classes.
“I think it’s amazing,” says Daiminn who expected attendance to drop off. “Kelly is 100 percent behind his whānau and they are 100 percent behind him. Everyone keeps coming back.”
Kelly says it’s an honour. As a young man he survived rheumatic fever, used to weigh 100kg, and once got expelled from school.
“My family used to be a sick family, but now I’m helping keep them get fit and healthy. The kids come along too and that’s great because their mums and dads are role models now.”
Just this month the whānau helped raise hundreds of dollars for cancer awareness by taking part in the Relay for Life. Some members walked through the entire night – something they would not have been able to do before Kelly and his inspirational idea.
Tūranga Health congratulates Kelly Te Miha and the whole whānau fit team.
TWO Turanga Health staffers have started this year as new graduates – and they recommend the experience to others.
Population Health Coordinator Dallas Poi completed a postgraduate diploma in business studies and Corporate Services Manager Lisa Tamatea has done a bachelor of business with a double major in accounting and management.
Lisa studied extramurally through Open Polytechnic New Zealand so it would fit around work and home life.
“I hadn’t done any tertiary study prior to starting at Vanessa Lowndes Centre in 1997. I joined the airforce after school and studied accounting but it wasn’t recognised outside of the forces.
“When I started at Vanessa Lowndes Reweti encouraged me to study so initially I did a diploma in business with an accounting focus.”
After she completed that, Reweti encouraged her to do more so in 2010 Lisa started part time study for her degree.
“For me, the flexibility was huge. It’s definitely an achievement finally finishing, knowing I am a role model for my kids. They had to sacrifice as well,putting up with a grumpy mum from time to time. Finishing was more about them than me.”
“It’s a bit of a relief and a bit surreal to be honest, because I have just been doing a paper here or there as work and family demands allowed.”
For Dallas the process was quicker, but just as rewarding.
“I completed my diploma part time over two years, travelling every fortnight to Waikato University for Saturday classes. I had to make sacrifices but it still allowed me to work full time.”
Dallas already holds a bachelor of health science and a postgraduate diploma in public health, so last year’s qualification was mainly about upskilling.
“The work that we do at Turanga Health is ever changing, so you have to keep up with whatever new knowledge is coming out. I totally recommend it otherwise you can get too stagnant and comfortable around your knowledge base.”
Lisa agrees.“Staff should definitely take the opportunity. Turanga Health is big on internal upskilling. It’s an organisation that’s willing to invest in you. You just have to commit to it,” says Lisa.
In 2016, 15 staff members also completed Te Wananga o Aotearoa Whirikoka campus’s tikanga marae course, committing two hours every Friday afternoon.
This year Turanga Health has secured scholarship funding through Hauora Tairāwhiti to support seven clinical and nonclinical individuals develop through tertiary level studies.
TWENTY-EIGHT year-old Jess Kirwan has faced many challenges but continues to overcome them at every turn.
Tireless and cheerful Jess works part time in administration and cleaning at Tūranga Health – a job she came to through her involvement with Tūranga Health’s Vanessa Lowndes Centre.
She works half an hour every morning and has learned a lot in her first year. “It’s been good doing things like learning how to work the scanner - when it doesn't die on me - and meeting new people through customer service.”
The Vanessa Lowndes Centre, on Derby St is a melting pot of people each experiencing various levels of intellectual, physical and or sensory disabilities.
Every day people arrive at the Centre to take part in programmes and classes helping them learn skills to live in society and make progress towards their own independence. At VLC the students are known as “whānau”.
Vanessa Lowndes Service Manager Laura Biddle says a lot of work goes into building confidence and preparing people for employment.
“Jess is pretty independent now. I have seen huge growth in her. Once she sets her mind to something she puts in 100 percent. Her achievements are worth celebrating.”
Last year Jess completed the Taupō Great Lakes Relay as part of a team. “I always wanted to achieve something like that and now I have. I did the Weet-Bix TRYathlon in Auckland every year when I was younger, so I am pretty proud of myself.” Just last week Jess helped out as a marshal at this year’s Weet-Bix Tryathlon in Gisborne.
She has some other exciting new year’s resolutions.
“I really want to get my restricted. I got my learner's license last year which was exciting because my nana’s husband promised me $100 if I passed.”
Getting Jess through her learners license took some effort. She studied at Adult Literacy Tūranga and took AA website practice tests at Tūranga Health. “I’ve been learning to drive but mum says I have a bit of a hot-foot.”
It’s hard to imagine when Jess will find the time to practice driving in preparation for her restricted license test with her packed schedule. She takes spin and sprint cycle classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Taekwondo classes with Te Karaka Taekwondo on Fridays and Tuesdays. She’s a green belt going for her blue stripes this year. “I enjoy it. I like learning self defense. I’m getting better and better.”
Taekwondo has an added challenge with much of the class spoken in Korean. “I can get nervous when the master asks me a question,” she says. Not so nervous that she hasn’t helped out as an instructor in Taekwondo classes for people with their own challenges. “I was scared at first but then I got my confidence up and really enjoyed it. I also learned about other special needs.”
Jess takes part in courses at the Tairāwhiti Environment Centre and she likes to draw. She’s saving for a car, wants to go to Australia later this year, and is keen to complete the bike leg of IronMāori.
“I like to keep busy, it keeps me out of mischief,” says the amazing Jess Kirwan in her understated way!
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