A TRAGIC family accident more than a decade ago led Swinitha Brown to work in health.
Swinitha (Rongowhakaata, Te Āitanga-a-Māhaki, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngāti Maru) has been a Turanga Health community nurse for three months but her nursing journey began in 2001.
She’d finished her second year of law school when her father was in a car accident. "My dad ended up paralysed due to a medical misadventure and was sent to Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch. They were absolutely brilliant and it inspired me."
Swinitha decided she wanted to provide the same level of care her dad received at Burwood for others, and prevent more families from receiving inadequate care."I’d always been brought up to treat others how you would like to be treated, so I decided I wanted to give back."
She’s been a registered nurse for nearly nine years and worked at Chelsea and Gisborne Hospital.
Growing up in Gisborne, Swinitha attended Awapuni Primary School and Gisborne Intermediate. She attended high school in Otago and later at Te Aute College.
Being part Māori (her mother is a descendant of the Scottish Colquhoun clan) Swinitha was drawn to Turanga Health. "I wanted to be out there more with people in their homes."
Swinitha had heard good things about Turanga Health before applying for the job and as she’d always wanted to work for a Māori organisation, the move made sense. "Everyone gets on with one another and there’s no tension or stress. It is just amazing and I absolutely love it.”
Job flexibility and no night shift is important to Swinitha as she is mum to six-year-old Kruz. As the ninth of 10 children in her family, having an only child broke the mould. "But he makes up for at least seven kids, seriously. He’s really adventurous so we do heaps of fun stuff together." Among their hobbies are surfing at Okitu Beach, playing guitar, and singing together. Swinitha also enjoys spending time with partner Neil.
Recently Swinitha finished a small business management course at Te Wananga o Aōtearoa. "I really wanted to to do it for the management papers because I’m interested in nursing practitioner study."
Turanga Health welcomes Swinitha Brown.
LESLIE Puketapu is currently working in administration but is looking forward to her new role as a kaiāwhina from early next year.
Leslie (Te Aitanga Mahaki and Ngati Porou) has been covering Toni June’s maternity leave for the past three months and will continue until January.
Her eye had been on a job at Turanga Health for a while after seeing how the organisation worked with the community while she was population health administrator at Hauora Tairāwhiti.
"I didn’t know a lot about Turanga Health apart from its community work particularly within my own community. I thought 'I need to work for them and help my whānau'. I now have a real appreciation of how much work Turanga Health does and everyday I think, ‘I’m in the right place’.”
During her eight years at Hauora Tairāwhiti Leslie went to many events displaying health promotional resources. She hopes to build on this level of community engagement. "I want to bring about more awareness to whānau about various health services. I’m a people person. I love people and engaging with those that need more guidance and support.
Leslie attended Riverdale Primary, Gisborne Intermediate and Lytton High School. She’s mum to 15-year-old Katerina and is a supportive Gisborne Girls’ High School parent.
As well as family life and travel, Leslie loves sport. “I literally used to play everything but now I am more involved in netball management." Leslie has been a player and a coach at Whatatutu Netball Club and is now the secretary.
Turanga Health welcomes Leslie Puketapu.
DELICIOUS and nutritious was the aim of the game at the annual Turanga Health versus Three Rivers Medical Cook Off last week.
The two teams worked a long lunch time in shifts creating healthy dishes like beef kebabs and sliders while the public used their taste buds to vote.
Three Rivers might have had the home advantage with the event right outside its practice doors but Turanga Health came out on top.
The biggest success was educating the public with a range of easy, healthy and tasty dishes - and taking a fun break from work, says Three Rivers nurse Suze Platten. "It was great to be a part of a team that’s all about education, and to be out working together like we always do."
The event is also a bonding experience between the two primary health care providers says Turanga Health Manager Dwayne Tamatea. "The relationship with Three Rivers is already strong but like every relationship a bit of bonding is what today was about. That, and giving patients a look at what happens outside general practice."
For those lucky enough to attend the event and sample some of the dishes, casting a vote either way was no easy task. Watene Waikari went with Three Rivers, saying their sliders were simply "awesome". Jim Kahukoti attended the cook off with daughter Azaria. "It was a pretty even mix of food, it was all good."
Azaria, 2, tried almost every dish but was more excited with her brand new Turanga Health bucket hat!
BY day he’s a Turanga Health physical activity kaiāwhina but when Hotorene Brown steps into the ring this month the crowd will know him as Bad News Brown! Hotorene is taking part in the Fight for Life Education Trust 2016 annual charity boxing event that funds the Trust’s mobile classroom. Kayla Dalrymple, a previous challenger, finds out what drives Hotorene and how he thinks he’ll go.
Family man Hotorene Brown has three boys with his partner Manu: Te Kehu 14, Nathaneal 12, and Jahn 10. He says the Life Education Trust is a cause close to his heart. The classroom services the length of the East Coast focusing on wellness, nutrition and healthy living, as well as teaching anti-bullying, anti-drugs and anti-alcohol messages.
In some ways the Trust’s work shares similar values to Turanga Health and Hotorene says “it’s about the kids first and foremost, and then the journey of learning to box.”
The journey is something all boxers who have been involved with the event experience differently. Taking part means an intensive three month training schedule, late nights learning complicated techniques, hours sparring in the ring, and often missing dinner with the family and putting the kids to bed.
“It has been physically quite draining. You finish anywhere from 9 to 9.30pm and then you go home and have dinner by yourself with the adrenaline still racing through you, so you don’t sleep until 11pm or 12pm.”
Hotorene says the boxers connect strongly with their team mates. “Most of us have families or partners and there are some experiences you just can’t talk about with them because you just can’t explain it. But you bond with your team because you are all on the journey together, going through the ups and downs and meltdowns, the whole thing.”
Hoterene is part of the red team with Gisborne City Hit Pit. He will face off in the ring against Bevan Vendt from the Patu Tahi Boxing Club blue team. He’s not thinking too much about the bout. “I have not really over anaylsed the fight too much. As soon as you over analyse you get nervous and if you are nervous, you are no good to anyone.”
Hotorene says the experience so far has turned him from a couch critic into someone with a high respect for the sport. “My perception of boxing has changed. It is a fine art with lots of detail. It is really cool when you start to understand the basic stuff. Learning is hard because you have to remember 20 to 30 different things all at once, processing everything from the position of your feet to your shoulders - I forget to breathe sometimes. It’s not just brutality, there is a science and finesse to it as well.”
Fight for Life Ed 2016 is Friday 25 November at Gisborne Showgrounds. Tickets are available from Express PR.
FORMER New Zealand age group squash representative Jessie Halbert (Ngati Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Rongowhakaata) has joined Turanga Health as a nutrition and physical activity kaiāwhina.
Jesse has been with Turanga Health for four months working in schools giving nutritional advice, and taking a range of different physical activity programmes that run across Turanga Health, like crossfit classes and heritage trail walks.
He’s spent the past few years travelling South East Asia and Europe, specifically England, Greece and Italy. “I was in Melbourne last, and came home and saw the job advertised. I have spent time representing New Zealand in squash and touch rugby and through that have had dietitians and nutritionists feeding me different pieces of knowledge over the years, so it made sense.”
Jesse attended Wainui Beach Primary School and Ilminster Intermediate before graduating from Gisborne Boys’ High School and heading to Victoria University.
He completed two years of a law degree before taking a “really long break” and will be with Turanga Health until early 2017, before returning to Wellington to complete his studies.
He says his plan is to segue into criminal law as a prosecuting lawyer so he can, “learn the whole template” of the law field. “I would love to go into defence law too. I have just always had a passion for it.”
Jesse’s ultimate goal is to work with Māori in some form. “That, and giving back, are the main things for me. Specifically here through physical exercise and health - it is the key to life, being healthy and eating well. Working with Māori will always be my main drive in any career path.”
Jesse’s passion for enabling Māori to live happy and healthy lives mean he’s been in his element the past four months. “My favourite part is the people. Turanga Health is an awesome company and a good environment to work in. They provide a lot for the community which creates a huge incentive to do your best and give that little bit extra. It does not feel like your typical nine to five job.”
In his down time Jesse plays touch for Turanga Health, surfs, spends time with family and friends and plays a song or two on his guitar.
Turanga Health welcomes Jesse Halbert.
Students don’t evade PE class at Gisborne’s Ilminster Intermediate any more following a new focus on health, wellbeing, and community involvement.
New ways of teaching PE, help from Turanga Health, and closing the school cafeteria have combined to boost students’ motor skills, increase their energy, and motivate them to take part in more physical activity, says Principal Peter Ferris.
“We are pinching ourselves and asking is this really happening? We’ve overseen a complete cultural transformation of the health and PE programme and kids are enthusiastic and high fiving.”
Teacher and head of PE Shane Hooks was responsible for overhauling the way PE was taught. “I love teaching the subject but I know not all teachers do.” Shane created PE lesson plans for staff and demonstrated teaching strategies. It’s made a real difference “Before you’d look over to PE class and see eight or nine kids sitting it out. Now you’ll see no one, or maybe one because of an injury, and that person is annoyed that they aren’t taking part!”
PE classes that include a Turanga Health Heritage Trail are a highlight. Students run or walk around sites of historical significance in the city. The trails are guided by specially trained (and fit!)Turanga Health kaiāwhina. Māori and European history is interwoven in the perfect combination of historical education and exercise.
Improving the health and wellbeing of staff is also a focus. Staff were offered an onsite wellness check with a Turanga Health nurse. Three were referred to their GP for treatment, one was referred to a smoking cessation programme, and 18 are taking part in a weight loss challenge.
Helping weight loss has been closure of the school cafeteria. Instead of an outcry, parents and caregivers accepted the change, and anyone wanting lunch can order it from the new delivery lunch provider that’s sprung up in its place. Turanga Health has also supplied water bottles.
Mr Ferris says success is measured by fitness testing students during the year. Whether the goal be completing 10 press ups, or running 10 km, every student is nurtured and helped to achieve success.
“While some change is immediate like improved speed or ball skills, other change might not be noticeable until years to come. Perhaps it will be seen in the food choices students make when they are living away from home or a decision to go for a walk instead of playing PlayStation. That’s the real measure for whether we have made a difference.”
A Treaty of Waitangi negotiator has helped change the way kids exercise by creating unique guided heritage trails along Gisborne’s rivers and beaches.
Known as heritage trails, the Turanga Health-inspired guided walks and runs weave Māori and European history into bite-sized chunks for kids while they exercise. The trails have taken one school by storm and are now being adopted by others.
“Our kids are hooked on it,” says Ilminster Intermediate principal Peter Ferris, who incorporates the interactive historical lesson into the school’s new PE curriculum.
“Story telling makes the how, the who, and the when, exciting and relevant to today’s kids. And they are learning it all in fresh air, not off a device or a screen.”
Rongowhakaata historian, and heritage consultant Jody Wyllie created the heritage trails for Turanga Health last year. Mr Wyllie is a Treaty of Waitangi negotiator and Transit of Venus researcher. He says many people don’t know or appreciate the region’s history.
“It’s important our kids learn how we went from there being no one here, to there being many of us here, and also some of what happened in between! You know this place is really important – New Zealand was born here.”
Mr Wyllie created three heritage trail routes: Titirangi (Kaiti Hill), the three rivers, and the beach front. He’s spent hours passing on his years of historical research to six Turanga Health kaiāwhina who lead the guided walks. Stories of the original Māori ancestors Kiwa and Pāoa are combined with the history of meeting houses, Cook’s arrival, and European settlement.
Mr Wyllie say’s the district’s history is challenging for some, and confusing for others. The trail dialogue isn’t intended as a definitive history but many of the local stories are presented warts and all.
“Using the trails, schools can take a more balanced warts and all approach to teaching students about early navigation, colonialism, and the struggles of early settlement. I know not everyone agrees but I would much rather do it that way. Better to have a debate about what happened in the past and to realise that we have moved on as a country.”
The six Turanga Health heritage trail guides are Paora Anderson, Albert Tibble, Shane Luke, Hotorene Brown, Jesse Halbert, and Daiminn Kemp. Excited to be given the chance to exercise and present history at the same time they take their new roles seriously. They’ve learned the content, honed their delivery, and taken practice heritage trails while fellow staff and Mr Wyllie provide feedback.
Guide Albert Tibble says it’s been a privilege and an honour to bring the stories of bygone days to life. But it’s also been a challenge. “Jody has been generous and helpful in his training and feedback. I want to captivate the kids with knowledge, history, and a story and I want it to flow naturally, but at the same time I have to be aware of everyone’s fitness!”
Trails are led according to each group’s fitness. Some are walking trails only, while others include jogging, stair shuttle runs and strength exercises along the way.
Turanga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha says the feedback from Ilminster has encouraged other schools including Gisborne Intermediate and Gisborne Boys High School to use the trails.
“The Heritage Trails are a walking or running series that combines fitness with our local historic treasures. Walkers can cover around two to four kilometers so it’s a unique opportunity for participants to get fit in a beautiful place and connect to history at the same time.”
If there’s ever an emergency situation at Gisborne’s Cedenco Foods, factory worker Kody Te Hau is one of an elite team of staff trained in emergency response and containment. Wearing a protective suit and breathing apparatus Kody and Rescue Squad colleagues will locate and isolate the source of the leak.
Rescue Squad staff do physical training every two weeks - running, climbing and practicing emergency response drills in their cumbersome hazmat suits. It’s hard work, and Kody has an extra disadvantage... he’s a smoker.
“We do lots of heavy lifting, and carrying people, and I’d be sucking up oxygen, lots of oxygen, and breathing heavily,” says Kody of the training.
So when Cedenco offered an on-site quit smoking programme run by Turanga Health Kody, 29, jumped at the chance to quit his disabling 15-year habit. His work mates needed to be able to count on him.
“I’ve a got a six-month old and a six-year-old. That’s my motivation. But it was the responsibility of being in the Rescue Squad too. I need to be in better shape if I’m in that role.”
Kody and colleagues Bobby-Joe Brown-Kaiwai and Tukaki Wanoa have just taken part in the largest quit smoking programme ever run at a Gisborne workplace. Fifty Cedenco Foods staff signed up to the 12-week challenge and just about everyone cut down their smoking. Seven quit for good.
“That’s the largest group we have ever worked with in one place,” says long time smoking cessation kaiāwhina Christine Nepia, who along with colleague Mere Waihi went to huge lengths to help the Cedenco staff.
“To make sure we saw as many staff as possible we were there at 5am and some days we were there again in the afternoon for the shift change,” says Mere.
Cedenco Foods, which produces natural fruit and vegetable ingredients for world export, operates a three-shift cycle at its 24-hour plant. General Manager Darryl Hudson says onsite visits from Turanga Health nurses and kaiawhina are helping keep staff fit and well. He knew the smokefree programme would be a “good fit” with the mainly Maori and Pacifica staff. He also knew there would be more chance of success if the Turanga Health staff were regularly there – so he gave Christine and Mere unfettered access!
“Christine and Mere ran things themselves and that was great for us. When the crew came into the café for a break they could see the smokefree ladies, blow into the machine, and talk about how to beat the addiction.” He says the company is looking at running the programme again next year.
During the 12-week programme Cedenco staff did a weekly smokerlyzer test. Staff blew into a smokerlyzer machine and it revealed if they had any carbon monoxide on their breath. Carbon monoxide is the poison inhaled when people smoke. A reading under-5 means the person has not smoked that day. A low reading usually leads to an almighty cheer.
The staff were awesomely supportive of each other, says Christine. “There was a real team vibe, people would awhi friends and family, and even staff not on the programme would offer congratulations when a smoker blew a low score”.
The 50 Cedenco Foods staff were broken into teams of 10 people. There was a $1000 prize for the team that blew the lowest amount over 12 weeks. One whānau group saw uncles helping nephews and vice versa. For the record the ladies team called Six-to-Two-Shift won! Spot prizes of gym and pool passes, and meat, as well as prizes for effort, were announced each week and helped motivate staff.
Factory worker Bobby-Joe Brown-Kaiwai says she joined the programme because she was wasting $100 a week on cigarettes that she could otherwise spend on essentials and treats. She has rheumatic heart disease and faces surgery in the future - so has more than most to gain from quitting smoking. “I got a long way to stopping smoking before, so when a programme came to work I thought I would try again.” Bobby-Joe dropped from about 20 cigarettes a day to three, and is determined to keep it at that number or less.
A few weeks on from the programme Kody Te Hau enjoys better breathing in normal life and while in the Rescue Squad hazmat suit. “The suits are for protection, not comfort but it’s getting easier all the time”.
A gym instructor with years of experience working with rugby players, kids, and a special Olympian, heads a new Turanga Health programme helping patients live longer, healthier and more independent lives.
Bernie Semau, 30, is leading Eke Tū, Turanga Health’s long term conditions programme. The new programme offers GPs somewhere to refer patients who need extra help making positive lifestyle changes to manage or prevent a chronic condition.
“When we say chronic condition we mean something like obesity, diabetes, or heart disease,” says Bernie.
“It is the invisible epidemics of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases that for the foreseeable future will take the greatest toll in deaths and disability in this region. However, it is by no means a future without hope,” says Bernie.
“Eke Tū is a wraparound programme that will give the referred patients an opportunity to improve fitness, lose weight, and improve their overall physical and mental health.”
Twenty patients, 10 from Gisborne and 10 from Te Karaka, will be selected for the four month programme based on their risk factors identified by the referring GP.
“We are helping people who are showing signs of things like high blood pressure and a high Body Mass Index (BMI), as well as other clinical indicators pointing to challenges ahead for the patient.”
The programme has a strong focus on physical activity. Bernie, who was previously a gym instructor at Jetts Fitness Gisborne, has developed a varied and fun, but safe programme for the referred patients.
“Yes we go to the gym and we go swimming, but we have also built in plenty of outdoor exercise as well as yoga and relaxation techniques. The overall programme is monitored by a Turanga Health nurse.”
As well as physical exercise there is a strong educational component to the programme. “We want to teach our patients, empower them, to take a leading role in their own care. It’s about giving them knowledge and skills, and motivation, to make good decisions in daily life.”
Referring GP Mark Devcich says GPs and nurses are well aware of the need to take action to reduce the risk of early death for a patient. “We are seeing more people develop the serious complications of chronic conditions at an earlier age – heart attacks and strokes, kidney, eye and foot problems, all increasing the risk of early death or major disability in relatively young people.”
Dr Devcich says he will be able to refer patients to the Turanga Health programme knowing they’ll be offered intensive professional support to lose weight, improve their diet and increase physical activity – all known to reduce the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes.”
Winter’s here but a strengthened relationship between Turanga Health and Curtain Bank Gisborne means more Tairāwhiti families are getting help to stay warm.
Established in 2009 to provide made-to-measure curtains for people and families on low incomes, Curtain Bank Gisborne volunteers are always busy snipping, stitching and sewing to restock their shelves with donated curtains.
Families from all over the district are referred for upcycled drapes and curtains by Plunket, Women’s Refuge, Barnados and Work and Income. But the biggest referrer is Turanga Health. In the past 12 months 40 whānau have received new window coverings as a result of the bolstered relationship between the two organisations.
“We receive referrals from all over but Memory Taylor at Turanga Health has smoothed the way for our organisations to help each other out much more,” says Curtain Bank Coordinator Sharron Hall. “Sixty percent of Curtain Bank’s referrals now come from Turanga Health. Memory is just what we needed.”
Memory is Turanga Health’s Healthy Home Kaiāwhina. Healthy Home interventions include referral to health and social agencies, installing insulation and ventilation, and design improvements to houses. Support can be anything from curtains to draft stoppers, or in some cases, help with transferring a family to more appropriate housing.
Memory sees the culprits of a cold home as soon as she walks in. No curtains, draughts under doors, crumbling insulation, and expensive yet ineffective sources of heat. When she began her job 12 months ago one of her first ports of call was Curtain Bank in the Red Cross rooms on Palmerston Rd.
“My first impressions were ‘what a lovely group of ladies’. All of them giving up their free time to help the community. I wanted to be part of it.” Now, as well as a referrer, Memory is one of seven volunteers who sew curtains every Tuesday.
Once a referral is received complete with window measurements, it takes three to four weeks before curtains are ready for hanging. Memory will hang the curtains herself, or families will call in to the Curtain Bank to pick up their curtain parcel.
Sharron and Memory love the reactions of families. Memory says it makes her feel like Santa “The good thing is that all our clients are appreciative of anything they receive. It’s awesome. And it’s why I love my work. It doesn’t matter if there’s a patch in the fabric or if it doesn’t match the carpet - they are so happy.”
There’s only one problem. “We are always running out of curtains but never running out of needy families,” says Sharron. “Please donate your old curtains if you are refurbishing. We will be able to make something out of them. Don’t chuck them away.”
Anyone with old curtains, rods or racks, fabric or hooks, is encouraged to drop them to Curtain Bank Gisborne, Red Cross, 336 Palmerston Road, any day of the week.
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