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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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Come walking with us
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Whānau Ora Navigators are hoping whānau will join the Hikoi ā Whānau walking series around Hauraki during March.
Walking is FREE and a great way to connect with your community!
Walking reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure, improves sleep and energises you!
Hikoi ā Whānau offers:
Aroha – giving with no expectation of return;
Whanāungatanga – It’s about being connected;
Whakapapa – knowing who you are;
Mana/Manaaki – building the mana of others, through nurturing and growing; and
Korero awhi – positive communication.
No matter what your age, size, level of fitness or situation
Waihi - March 3: 10.30am - 12 noon – Meet at the Goldmine lookout
Thames - March 13: 10.30am - 12 noon – Meet at Victoria Park
Coromandel - March 20: 10.30am-12 noon – Meet at the Te korowai Hauora o Hauraki clinic
Paeroa - March 27 10.30am- 12 noon – Meet at Paeroa Domain
Whānau Ora Navigator
if interested in joining
Hikoi ā Whānau
Beneficiaries who need free professional help with Work and Income issues such as entitlements, fraud/relationship investigations, reviews, appeals, and more can make an appointment to see a Waikato Community Law Advocate visiting Thames and Te Aroha next month.
Community Law Waikato advocate Ben Hoffman is experienced in Welfare Law and will be available by appointment only in Thames on March 22 and Te Aroha on March 15 from 12.30-3pm. Spaces are limited, so those needing welfare advice need to book on 0800 529 482.
Ben will also be providing training on Welfare Law for all community organisations that support beneficiaries. The training will include learning about entitlements, benefits, relationship status, common problems, reviews, appeals and more. The training is free, but a gold coin koha is appreciated to cover some of the costs. Training is from 10.30am to 12 noon.
Community Law Waikato provides free legal help to those in the Waikato who would otherwise not have access.
Training and appointments:
Thames – Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki, 210 Richmond Street, March 22
Te Aroha – Senior Citizens Association, 24 Church Street, Te Aroha, March 15
To make an appointment, phone 0800 529 482.
A Whānau Hauora Day hosted by Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki alongside the TCDC and local community, will be held at Hauraki Terrace Playground and Community Gardens on Waitangi Day, Wednesday, February 6.
The aim of the day is to promote the community gardens and make community connections.
The opening of a Pataka Kai/Community Pantry, gardening, a cooking demo, craft making, games, a hangi, BBQ, bouncy castle and an eagerness to learn are all also on the agenda.
From 11-2pm, whānau from neighbouring streets and throughout the community will be able to come along to the community gardens and help harvest the potatoes to be used in a sweetcorn and potato fritters cooking demo. Tamariki will have heaps to keep them entertained, including lots of games and a bouncy castle.
T3 (Transition Town Thames) maintains the community gardens, holding monthly working bees to encourage community participation and on-the-spot learning, but it is hoped that eventually the community will take ownership of them.
“We want people from the community to look after the gardens and to make them sustainable,” Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Poukura Oranga, Manager Public and Community Health Services Debbie Petersen-Pilcher says.
This is a smoke and alcohol-free event and chilled water will be available all day.
Thanks to Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki, T3, TCDC and local whānau.
What: Hauraki Terrace Whānau Hauora Day
Where: Hauraki Terrace, Thames
Whānau from Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki whose New Year’s resolution is to take care of their health will get the support they need at a free Whānau Wellness Day on Wednesday, January 30.
This is open to all whānau who are registered with Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki or whānau who would like to be.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki clinical services manager Taima Campbell says the day will be a “one-stop shop” where existing and prospective clients will be able to access a range of medical and screening services and information, dependent on their needs.
Each client will receive a health passport and be directed to one or more of 12 different ‘stations’ throughout the facility offering access to a GP, Nurse Practitioner or nurse and services, including blood pressure checks, blood tests, vaccinations, cervical smears, wellness screening, smoking support and a range of services from Te Korowai and other community groups.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki staff will keep the kids inspired with fun activities in the courtyard ncouraging physical activity.
Alongside the wellness day, a dental van will be on site for from January 29 to February 1 offering free consultations for Community Service Card holders, with extractions or fillings from $50. Support will be available for those eligible for financial assistance from Work and Income. Dental appointments are needed - Contact Kath Makiri on 021 902 826.
The Free Whānau Wellness Day is on Wednesday, January 30 from 9.30-3.30pm. To register on the day, go to the Wharehui behind the Whānau Health Centre at 210 Richmond Street, Thames.
FREEPHONE: 0508 tekorowai 0508 835 676