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Every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart (cardiovascular) disease. It is the leading cause of death in New Zealand and the number one killer of women globally - even though it is often thought of as a male problem.
In New Zealand, 172,000 people are living with heart disease – that’s one in 20 people – with Māori adults more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than European New Zealanders and 1.5 times more likely to die from stroke.
Heart disease is an umbrella term for any type of disorder that affects the heart. It can incorporate a number of conditions, including atherosclerosis (a build-up of fatty plaques in your arteries), angina (when your heart muscle does not get as much blood and oxygen as it needs), high blood pressure or hypertension (where your blood moves through your blood vessels with extra force, leading to damaged arteries and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke) and heart failure, where the heart struggles to pump blood around the body.
This month is Heart Awareness Month and an opportune time for people to take stock of their heart health.
While some heart diseases are congenital (what you’re born with) or hereditary (family history), others can be prevented or treated by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Major modifiable risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, insufficient physical activity, obesity, diabetes, poor nutrition and an excessive intake of alcohol.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Nurse Practitioner Esme Maloney says people can improve their heart health by consuming a healthy diet high in fibre, vegetables and fruit, moderating their alcohol intake, quitting smoking and exercising regularly.
She says it is important to break the bad heart health cycle by educating our tamariki about healthy lifestyle habits from a young age.
“Bring your kids up in an environment where they drink water instead of sugary drinks and eat fresh food rather than deep-fried takeaways and processed foods, which are often full of trans fats,” she says.
“And make sure everyone gets outside for some fresh air and exercise. Doing just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day such as brisk walking can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
The Heart Foundation Big Heart Appeal is on Friday 23 and Saturday, 24 February.
At the age of 15, Martin Mikaere was reading at the level of a 10-year-old. Because he struggled with reading, he openly avoided it and played up in class to avoid the work.
That could have been his future – but today, Martin Mikaere, affectionately dubbed “Doc Martin” is a much-loved GP at Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Paeroa’s Whānau Health Centre, and proof that no matter what obstacles a person may face, if they are passionate enough, they can still follow their dreams to reach their goals.
Doc Martin was this month awarded the Royal New Zealand College of Practitioners Peter Anyon Memorial, in memory of Dr Peter Anyon, for his contribution to the vocational education of general practitioners.
His struggle with reading was eventually diagnosed as dyslexia. Lucky to have the support of his parents, he was referred to a private tutor, but he says his real breakthrough came when he was introduced to fantasy writing with a book called “The Pawn of Prophecy” by David Eddings.
“My mum sorted it for me by getting me this book and encouraging me to read it,” he says.
“I stayed with the book and finished all 300 pages over the next two to three months.”
Captivated, he went on to read the whole series, which he says got his reading speed up but did not help his spelling.
“To date I’m still a horrible speller and my use of punctuation is terrible. I rely on my wife for these things these days.”
Dr Mikaere’s struggles didn’t end there though. While he loved his books, he says he and his twin brother, Sam, who also had dyslexia, were disruptive and ended up attending three different high schools.
“Let’s just say that by the end of our schooling no one really expected much from either one of us. We were outspoken and disruptive in the classroom – classic class clowns -- and we both struggled with our dyslexia.”
He failed School Certificate maths two years in a row scoring 28% the first-time round and then 26% the next year.
“So with a whole year of extra study I somehow managed to do worse,” he says.
He went into nursing training straight after high school, a pathway he chose because his mum was a nurse and he thought it would be a good job to travel with.
“I liked people and thought it might be a good match for me.”
But he failed dismally, admitting that he was really there to play rugby and party.
“I failed all but one paper in the first semester and I got halfway through the second semester and thought, ‘this is not for me’. That again was like my reading. I was struggling with it. So I guess I walked away.“
But, he says, this left him with a nagging sensation of failure.
“I had never openly failed so bad before. I was embarrassed and wanted to just hide from the world.
“But I could not let it go. It really bothered me that I had that scratch against my name.”
So, after working in jobs he says he hated, he worked up the courage to give nursing another go.
“They were very weary of me at first, but I got into foundation studies for nursing, finished that and then went on to finish the nursing degree.”
From there, he flourished, working in Emergency Departments in New Zealand, Australia and America before returning to NZ to start medicine, eventually working 80-100 hour working weeks in his orthopaedic role at Whangarei Hospital.
Dr Mikaere’s career took a new turn when he took some rare time off from his job to take his two tamariki to the beach. He had so much fun with them, he realised what he was missing out on, and that night, told his wife Anna that he was going to become a GP.
“There’s no way I was going to live my life like this anymore,” he says.
Now in the third year of a General Practice Education Programme (GPEP), Dr Mikaere is thoroughly enjoying work at the Te Korowai practice in Paeroa, which has about 1700 patients, 70% of whom are Māori.
He says he was humbled to receive the award.
“I had no idea that I had even been put forward for this. It was a real shock but I have to say it is pretty cool to be recognised like this.”
In closing his acceptance speech, Dr Mikaere called on a whakatauki that he lives by:
“Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
“Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain”
He says he has found in his life that people (rightly or wrongly) will give their opinion on what they think you should do.
“But my finding here is that it is the best approximation that they have of themselves and as such is limited. They won’t advise anything that they themselves could not do as it’s outside either their knowledge box or their estimation of your abilities.”
His advice to young people is that if they want to be builder, a nurse a doctor or an astronaut - then go and do it.
“Nothing is easy in life but it is all achievable if you want it. Certain things are easier if you have natural talent, but I had no talent for academia and still finished an academic-heavy programme.
“So to the young people I say dream big and if it fails. Get back up and go again.”
“This whakatauki is my life motto. Better to try and fail because even in that failure you will find clarity and direction. But never if you don’t try.”
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A dead turtle with pieces of plastic in its stomach that were traced back to New Zealand brought home the reality of the devastating effects of plastic waste in our oceans to about 150 students attending the third Rangatahi (Youth) Summit in Ngātea on August 8.
The turtle was found in the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean and brought to New Zealand to be studied. Inside were 156 pieces of plastic – three of which were identified from New Zealand by its branding.
Hayden Smith from ocean-cleaning environmental organisation Sea Cleaning based in Auckland, says they didn’t determine whether the turtle ingested the plastic within New Zealand waters or whether the plastic travelled across the oceans to the turtle.
“But that was just one turtle.”
One turtle that highlighted how small actions can have huge consequences on our environment, and a timely focus for this year’s Rangatahi summit with the theme - Sustainable Hauraki
The summit was the brainchild of forward-thinking Hauraki Rangatahi Leadership Development Group Te Mata Rangatira (TMR). This group of inspirational teenagers really does walk the talk and practice what they preach.
While the rest of the country was still teetering on whether we should still be able to get single or multi-use plastic bags at the supermarket, TMR spearheaded this summit to tackle environmental issues head on.
A selection of workshops from fellow rangatahi as well as invited guests offered not only a deeper insight into some of the environmental problems facing our communities and world today, such as the pollution of our whenua (land), wai (water) and rangi (sky), but it also offered ideas and practical, hands-on solutions.
The workshops enabled students to look, listen, question and become involved – surely the best way to learn and understand.
There were workshops showing how to use fibre optic cord offcuts to weave traditional baskets, material scraps to make beeswax wraps (instead of glad wrap) and tee shirts to make funky and fashionable “boomerang “ bags, while others showed how to recycle and create zero waste (Parekore) and to use what we already have in nature – passionately demonstrated by Jamie Watson (Te Ao Tawhito) from the Coromandel Peninsula.
TMR had their own workshop guiding guests through a darkened maze of visual storytelling.
As the navigator Maui who fished up New Zealand, TMR’s Hikoi Taipari asked students what would happen if he threw his hook into the ocean today.
“Would I pull up some island or would I pull up rubbish?” he says. “Have we forgotten who we are?”
The summit was inspiring – the many featured individuals and groups offering simple and practical steps towards our environmental issues.
Two young wahine already making a positive difference and getting the word out there on our precious environment are Arie Tiniwhetu Dargaville Rehua and Waikamania Seve who both gave speeches.
Arie, 16, a former Thames South pupil, now at Hamilton Girls’ High, gave a powerful, passionate and heartfelt kōrero on the pollution of our waterways.
“Hauraki as a rohe has still not come to the conclusion that we are slowly polluting our waterways - awa and moana, but who is to blame?, “ she asked.
“Is it the Pak ‘n’ Save guys that offer you a plastic bag - 10c to pollute your wai -or is it the car company down the road spraying those extra chemicals only to complete the $10 glossy look?”.
Arie says New Zealand’s clean green brand is going down the drain and said there were many key offenders – not just the dairy industry, pointing the finger at intensified agriculture practices, deforestation, industrial pollution, intensive development and urban growth in general.
Waikamania Seve, 13, who travelled from Whangarei for the summit, is the youngest New Zealander to do a TED talk.
A winner of two science fairs where she was recognised for her research on sea urchins and whales, Waikamania stressed the important place that traditional knowledge has in modern science.
“Our world and our understanding is not based on western science alone,” she said.
Waikamania encouraged adults to let their children play and explore in order to grow.
“Day after day the adults in our lives shut down the opportunity for children to explore their natural world. To understand the world around us, we need to explore, we need to break things, we need to deconstruct things, in fact, I argue that we need to allow children to break things, to explore things and to tutū.
“Let them play more like our ancestor Maui Potiki. Without exploration we lose our natural born scientists.”
TMR have challenged the students to now become their schools’ advocates for sustainability and will follow up with progress visits over the summer.
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Communications and Marketing
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki
Ph: 021 027 48490
A proactive and inspirational 13-year-old promoting a voice for youth is one of the guest speakers at the third Hauraki Rangatahi (Youth) Summit in Ngātea on August 8.
With the summit’s aim to get more young people involved in their community, Waikamania Seve, who has already completed a TEDX Talk on Growing Science by Letting Children Play and was a contestant in Tai Tokerau Ngā Manu Kōrero national speech contest – will provide more than enough positivity and inspiration to champion its cause.
This year’s summit will feature a series of workshops and presentations with the theme Creating a Sustainable Hauraki.
The summit is the brainchild of forward thinking Hauraki rangatahi leadership development group Te Mata Rangatira (TMR), formed after representatives of TMR attended the World Indignenous Suicide Prevention Conference at Rotorua in 2016.
“We walked away from that with the idea that we wanted to develop something that would see a whole raft of people participating and contributing and adding a Hauraki flavour to it,” TMR member Josh Gill says.
“We wanted to be able to provide a similar experience and a way of coming together in Hauraki, by Hauraki, for Hauraki.”
TMR walks the talk, with projects such as the Rangatahi Summit helping them to unleash the potential of their fellow rangatahi, giving them the confidence and mana to enhance their own leadership abilities.
“It’s about rangatahi being able to determine their own futures and not have others do it for them,” TMR member Alex Pere says.
TMR look to their own tupuna (ancestors) for guidance and then add “Tupuna Infused Modern Swag” to bring it into the modern day.
“We look at their mahi and how they handled it and then put a flavour to it that is more modern so we can handle it, find solutions and do it with swag,” TMR facilitator Carrie Taipari-Thorne says.
And while the first two summits were more about inspiring rangatahi and bringing them together through inspirational kaupapa, this year the gauntlet has been laid and the challenge set for all rangatahi to become advocates for sustainability.
“We’re challenging the schools to adopt a sustainable environmental practice and to advocate for that inside their kura and community,” Josh says.
TMR members will follow up with a visit to the respective kura over summer to monitor how they have implemented their plans.
Over 150 students and teachers from around Hauraki attended last year’s summit.
The feedback was so positive that the TMR concept has since been implemented into three colleges, with another still undergoing that transition, while a mini version of TMR has also been applied to a primary school.
“There has been lots of enthusiasm from schools who enjoyed being in the summit and want to see them grow, “ TMR facilitator Frank Thorne says.
Joining Waikamania as guest speakers aretangata whenua Pauline Clarkin and Maree Tukukino, who will talk about holistic connections and responsibilities to the whenua (land) and taiao (environment) of Hauraki.
· Te Mata Rangatira -Recycling and Upcycling and Waka Culture.
· Ahikaaroa Trust– Heeni Shortland and Reuben Taipari showcase a Māori whānau that lives and breathes sustainability .
· Digital Navigators – Moka Apiti using drone technology as a means to continue and maintain customary understandings of, and connections to, traditional landscapes.
· Seacleaners – Hayden Smith will talk about Seacleaners’ efforts to protect our moana
· Jamie Watson– Sustaining knowledge and practice of identifying, preparing and eating traditional foods.
· Maylah Howells– Workshop on bee wraps and recycling plastics for dresses and outfits
· Parakore – Jacqui Forbes - Implementing Zero Waste in to schools, marae and organisations throughout Aotearoa
· Rangatahi Tū Rangatira– Nathan Waiatai & John Kīngi – Atua Matua sustaining understandings of whakapapa and pūrākau (tradition stories) through tākaro (games) and physical activity
· Tīrama Foundation– Waimihi Hotere – Rangatahi voice through drama and theatre
The 2018 Hauraki Rangatahi Summit will be held in the Ngātea Memorial Hall on August 8. For more information on Te Mata Rangatira, go to their website www.tematarangatira.net and Facebook: Te Mata Rangatira
Registration enquiries - Frank Thorne, 027 4634 873 - Frank.email@example.com
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki GP Martin Mikaere was honoured with the Peter Anyon Memorial Award at the The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Conference for General Practice last month.
The Peter Anyon Memorial is given in the memory of Dr Peter Anyon, who is recognised as having made an important and valuable contribution to the vocational education of general practitioners.
Dr Mikaere made the decision to become a GP after taking some rare time out from his then 80-100 hour working weeks in his orthopaedic role at Whangarei Hospital.
He had taken his two young children to the beach and had so much fun with them, he went back the next day to do it all again. That night he turned to his wife and said he was going to become a GP.
“There’s no way I was going to live my life like this anymore,” he said.
“We had such a fantastic couple of days together and it started to dawn on me what was important.
“I had been working hard – and absolutely loving my job – but barely seeing my family.”
“People would say I was making a big sacrifice for my family. But the only thing I was sacrificing was my kids’ time with their dad.”
On his first day back at the hospital Martin resigned. “I went in and spoke to the boss. They were disappointed but understood my decision.
“There were people there that I really looked up to, idolised even, so it wasn’t easy to leave. But I knew it was the right thing to do, and that going back to my home community to start GP training would be a much better option for my wife and kids, and extremely fulfilling for me.”
Now in the third year of General Practice Education programme (GPEP) Martin is thoroughly enjoying work at the Te Korowai practice in Paeroa, which has about 1700 patients, 70% of whom are Māori.
He sees three particular challenges for the future of general practice, the first being the ‘tough sell’ of getting doctors into rural communities.
“In places like Thames and Paeroa, people complain that they never get to see the same GP. There just isn't the continuity of care because we don’t have enough GPs wanting to live here. I’m really not sure how we can solve this.”
Next on Martin’s list is the always-tricky issue faced by GPs around providing care to those close to them.
He understands the Medical Council’s position that this should be avoided in the vast majority of clinical situations but with about 100 whānau living locally, it isn’t straightforward.
He says: “On one hand there's encouragement to work in your own communities and help your people, while on the other there’s an expectation that GPs won’t provide treatment to family members.
“That can be very difficult in small places where there are lots of whānau and not many GPs, and it's really difficult to get locums.
“It’s a tough one - is it OK to do consults with second cousins for example? What about first cousins, aunties and uncles? Where do you draw the line?”
The third big thing on Martin’s mind is how primary care takes advantage of technology, an area he says presents great opportunity but which must be approached with care.
All three issues were included in Martin’s address to the conference, a speech he had about six weeks to prepare himself for after learning of his success in a letter from the College.
“I had no idea that I had even been put forward for this. It was a real shock but I have to say it is pretty cool to be recognised like this.”
Medical Educator Sally Cater, who was Martin’s nominator for the Peter Anyon Medal, says in the award citation: “Martin has returned to his home community to become a GP and is extremely passionate about improving the health of the locals in his community. He advocates very strongly for his patients who need secondary health services.
“His story is inspiring for those who may feel that medicine is an out of reach career for them.”
Source: Royal NZ College of General Practitioners