Archive for the 'Health' Category

Death of dog brings warning of toxic algae at Otaki River mouth

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
Following the death of a dog this week, the Regional Council is warning river users with dogs to avoid the Otaki river mouth and estuary. Read more »

Taranaki father sheds 67kg, now targetting triathlons

Press Release – Triathlon New Zealand
Stephen Houghton has completely turned his life around. Six years ago he was very unwell. He weighed 151kg, had heart and cholesterol problems, sleep apnea and was pre-diabetic. But fast forward to now and Houghton is 67kg’s lighter and is targeting his second Triathlon World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico later this year. He will compete at Tri Kinloch next weekend to try and qualify. Read more »

Swibo’s system: tilting the odds in your favour

Press Release – Swibo
Meet Swibo: a company from Wellington that fuses physiotherapy with active gaming in a way that significantly increases compliance rates in the often monotonous task of doing physio exercises. Read more »

Public health summer school involves researchers and practitioners

Press Release – University of Otago
Leading international and New Zealand health experts will be in Wellington throughout February to participate in the 20th Public Health Summer School run by the University of Otago, Wellington. Read more »

Free breakfasts in Upper Hutt for Go By Bike Day

Press Release – Upper Hutt City Council
Upper Hutt City Council’s Activation team are encouraging residents to embrace Go By Bike day on Wednesday 10 February, enticing them with a free breakfast to fuel their efforts.

Supported by Bikewise, the Go By Bike Day initiative is designed to encourage people to choose this more active mode of transport for their daily commute in order to build exercise into their lifestyle.

Evidence has shown that regular exercise brings considerable benefits to health and wellbeing. So Upper Hutt City Council is encouraging active recreation and regular exercise as part of building a strong and healthy community.

In keeping with Council’s Activation mandate, “More people, more active, more often,” the Activation team are supporting the nation-wide Go By Bike Day by hosting a free breakfast for those who commute to or through Upper Hutt’s city centre by bike on the day.

“Go By Bike Day is for everyone, and schools, colleges, families, and corporates are all encouraged to take part,” says Activation Team Leader, Ellie Davidson. “We are encouraging Upper Hutt residents to ditch their usual mode of transport, and instead cycle to work, school or the train station.”

The Activation team is also accommodating those who do not have a bike. There will be some ‘spin bikes’ set up for those without a bike who would still like to take part in the active initiative and ‘earn’ their free breakfast.

The free breakfast for cyclists will be available from 7.00 am on the Wednesday 10 February at the Upper Hutt Civic Centre.

The Safer Journeys team will also be attending the event, promoting awareness for their Share the Road campaign. Cyclists who attend the breakfast will have the opportunity to be photographed with their bike and become a part of the campaign.

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Activity resource for over-60s re-released in Upper Hutt

Press Release – Upper Hutt City Council
An updated older adults resource was launched by Upper Hutt City Council’s Community Development team this week. The Upper Hutt activities for people aged 60+ resource provides information for those young at heart about a range of things to see and do in Upper Hutt. Read more »

Unsafe for swimming: warnings about high bacteria counts at beaches

The Regional Council is warning of high bacteria counts at South Beach and Titahi Bay. It says both beaches are unsafe for swimming. Read more »

Racing Board visiting with games, meals and a miniature pony

Press Release – Ronald McDonald House
The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) are coming to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) on Tuesday to play some games, cook a meal and offer rides on a miniature pony for the children staying at RMHC in Wellington. Read more »

How to ensure water for the hospital

by Helene Ritchie
Councils in the region need to work together urgently and with the Crown to ensure that the Wellington Regional Hospital is able to continue functioning with adequate water at the time of any major emergency. Read more »

Top nutrition scientist returns to NZ for new role at Massey in Wellington

Press Release – Massey University
One of the world’s leading nutrition specialists, Barbara Burlingame, has been appointed to Massey University in Wellington to help advance public health nutrition and food systems knowledge. Read more »

Why we care about trolley buses

What’s been our most-read topic over the holidays? No doubt at all. Trolley buses have attracted more than twice as many readers as any other subject on wellington.scoop over Christmas/New Year. Read more »

Public hospital staff bearing brunt of financial belt tightening in health sector

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists has criticised the 15 per cent salary band increase given last year to the chief executive at the Capital and Coast District Health Board, in comparison with wage increases to public health staff that have averaged only 0.5 per cent. Read more »

Toxic algae in river blamed for death of pet dog

News from Hawkes Bay Regional Council
The death of a pet dog due to a suspected case of cyanobacterial poisoning at a river, prompts a renewed warning from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board about the risks of toxic algae in summer. HBRC staff were told the dog was at Tukituki River’s Horseshoe Bend off Kahuranaki Road and HBRC environmental science staff are investigating. Read more »

Wellington PhD student seeking new enzyme form of cancer treatment

News from VUW
A $15,000 scholarship awarded to Victoria University of Wellington student Abigail Sharrock will support her quest to develop a new form of cancer treatment. Read more »

Frost stays cool in Superbike series

News from Bikesport NZ
It was the perfect start to the 2016 New Zealand Superbike Championships season for Wellington’s Sloan Frost this weekend. Read more »

All are winners at Wellington riding for the disabled events

Press Release – Riding for the Disabled

“The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” Though the identity of the sage behind this saying may have been lost to history, one had only to see the smiles, hear the laughter, and witness the patience of the ponies receiving pats and cuddles to know no truer words were uttered as staff, volunteers, supporters, and riders of Wellington Group of New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association celebrated at its annual prize giving ceremony on December 19.

Held at WRDA’s Kenepuru Hospital grounds, the barbecue and visit by Santa Claus —on horseback of course – is a chance for the participants of the programme, which provides equine assisted therapy to children and adults from the Wellington and Kapiti coast regions with physical and cognitive disabilities to celebrate and be recognized for their achievements in 2015.

Donna Kennedy, President of WRDA, kicked off the awards ceremony as guests relaxed in the sunshine full of grilled sausages and other tasty treats, and the RDA ponies hung their heads over the paddock fence in hopes of a random carrot or pat.

“It has been a wonderful 2015 for WRDA,” Kennedy said to a round of applause. “We end the year with a full team of coaches and horses. “I want to thank Rriders, coaches, Vvolunteers, supporters, and of course the horses for making it such a successful year. I am looking forward to an even better 2016.”

it may seem to those not familiar with WRDA, riding and spending time with horses is not work, but it goes further than just sitting astride a patient steed and having fun. Equine therapy is a recognized form of physical and behavioral therapy which can supplement other types of therapy to build confidence, balance, strength, teamwork and communication skills with the added bonus of a soft muzzle and thick mane.

“This was my first time visiting WRDA,” said guest Jonathan Mosen. “I was genuinely touched by the pride all the staff and volunteers take in their work, and seeing the joy the kids have is priceless. There is so much that goes along with having a disability that isn’t fun, and this is great and helpful too.”

Like any learning programme, the participants are recognized for their efforts in achieving specific goals set by their coaches. Certificates were awarded to riders for their improvements in areas of balance, communicating with horse and staff, and control of horse. Two students from the Johnsonville school,

Alessandra Millie Clements and William Nguon jointly shared theshared the coveted rider of the year prizeprize. While equestriennes Andie Munro and Rose McClay took home the award for “Most Improved Rider: of 2015.

Each year, ‘The Kennedy Turner Trophy for Resilience Determination and Attitude” is awarded to a Rider who has shown much determination and resilience—along with a great attitude in reaching their riding goals. This year’s honouree was Harrison Stafford.

The life blood of WRDA’s success is its volunteers—men and women from all walks of life who give tirelessly of their time and knowledge, providing support to all aspects of the programme. Their commitment does not go unnoticed. Each year, two volunteer specific awards are given based on committee and staff nominations.

“These are hard awards to give,” said Kennedy. “All our volunteers and the tasks they do make everyone else’s job much easier.”

Rod Allwood and Shiori Miyachi received “Most improved Volunteer of the Year” for 2015.d, who volunteers on Friday, won the award for “Most improved volunteer” for 2015. “Rod came to WRDA with little knowledge of horses and disabilities. He takes pride in what he does. Said Kennedy as she read Allwood’s nomination. “He is also the best water trough cleaner we have.”

“Getting the award was a total surprise as I was not even aware that there was such a category at the prize-giving,” Allwood said. “I was there to see kids getting certificates and share their pleasure never one second thinking that my name would be read out.”

Allwood volunteers on Friday doing a variety of jobs from cleaning, warming up horses for lessons, and preparing riders. “When I reached retirement age, I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work, but the main criteria were that the organization would not make money off my efforts. A friend suggested RDA which seemed a great idea as I rode horses as a kid and coached girls’ gymnastics so was used to dealing with kids. Helping the riders overcome their initial lack of confidence with the horses to seeing them riding to a point where they don’t want the lesson to stop is priceless. NO other activity that I have done has given me such satisfaction.”

Miyachi has only been with WRDA eight months and has proven herself to be a committed volunteer.

“Shiori came to us with no horse experience,” Kennedy said. “She is eager to do any job and has to be told to sit down and take a rest.” Miyachi is part of the Tuesday team of Volunteers. She does a variety of jobs from preparing horses and Riders to side-walking during the lessons.

“Last year, a friend took me to a farm near my house,” Miyachi said. “It was my first time seeing some horses and meeting them inspired me to learn more about them. I wanted to learn more about taking care of horses and began researching it. This is how I discovered WRDA was nearby. I was also interested in volunteering to help others, and WRDA could help me learn to handle horses, and I thought that’s just what I want to do.”

Miyachi said she is much appreciative of the award but wants to give it to the Riders, families, Volunteers, and coaches of WRDA. “It is such a wonderful organization. It’s amazing to see how much people improve through horse riding therapy. Just a 30 minutes’ ride creates such a positive influence—physically and mentally.”

Orsi Bacskai was awarded “Volunteer of the Year” for 2015. A soft spoken mother of two, Bacskai began volunteering with WRDA in 2010 after seeing an ad from Volunteer Porirua in the Kapi-Mana for “Helpers with Horses”.

“I jumped on the opportunity to get involved with horses again,” Bacskai explained. “I did a bit of riding as a teen and it was always in my mind to get back involved. I knew very little about WRDA so did some research on the Internet, and the more I saw the more interested I became. I had little experience with disabilities but RDA provides lots of training and practical advice.”

She now volunteers two days a week and is involved in all aspects of the ride programme-from tacking up horses and getting riders ready for their lessons to side-walking in the arena, walking alongside a horse to lend physical and moral support to a rider.

“Working with children with a wide range of disabilities and see them achieve their goals is very rewarding. Working with children and animals is very humbling and great for the soul. Even picking up horse poo has a different appeal when doing it at RDA.”

Bacskai says winning the Volunteer of the Year” award was a big surprise, and she is very proud. “All the volunteers are great. I sent a copy of the RDA newsletter to my friends and family back in Hungary.”

“We are desperate for more volunteers.” Said Kennedy, and we hope to recruit more for 2016.Volunteers need to be at least 16 years or older, able to make a regular time commitment even for as little as 2 hours once a week or fortnight. Volunteers need to be able to work well as part of a team and be keen to help where needed. Experience with horses is helpful but not necessary. Duties include grooming, setting up the arena for rides, leading horses, side walking the Riders, feeding horses, odd jobs, grounds maintenance and pooper scooping.

A buddy system is in place so volunteers can train up to help with all duties associated with running rides and using horses to help people with disabilities.

“We will be holding a volunteer training on January 30, and we certainly hope people will make it their New year’s resolution to give of their time. But for now all staff, volunteers and riders are enjoying a much needed break. Even the horses have gone on holiday to lounge in the sun and fill their bellies with grass until they return in late January.

If you are interested in volunteering with Wellington RDA or would like further information, please call 237-5550 or visit

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76 per cent increase in city’s commuter cyclists in seven years

News from Cycling Action Network
A cycling advocate is welcoming news of more people cycling, and a fall in injuries. Cycling Action Network spokesman Patrick Morgan says both numbers are moving in the right direction. Read more »

Students welcome rental ‘warrant of fitness’ to be introduced this year

News from VUWSA
The Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) welcomes the housing-rental Warrant of Fitness (WoF) study being undertaken by the University of Otago working with the Wellington City Council this year.

VUWSA President, Jonathan Gee, said that a rental warrant of fitness has been a long-standing student policy in local body elections.

‘Victoria University students campaigned for healthier homes in the 2013 local body election, and we hope Council candidates prioritise a rental warrant of fitness in the upcoming election in October,’ says Gee. “It’s pleasing that Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown views the rental WoF as part of a range of initiatives for quality and affordable housing, and we hope that the Council makes it a top priority in the next election cycle.’

Securing a warm, dry flat is a particular worry at this time of year, as thousands of students begin the annual flat hunt.

Welfare Vice President, Rory Lenihan-Ikin, says, ‘This is a relief for students that suffer from continuous bouts of sickness and rising electricity bills. This is the first step towards ensuring our students’ well-being is not undermined.’

‘January and February is a busy time for students as they try to secure a quality and affordable flat for the year. Unfortunately, since there can be an inaccurate student stereotype, students often have to settle for substandard rentals,’ says Gee. “A rental WoF will make sure that all renters have access to equally healthy housing.”

VUWSA looks forward to supporting this Study for warmer, drier and better flats for our most vulnerable population including students, low-income children and the elderly.

Press Release – University of Otago
The University of Otago, Wellington is working with the Wellington and Dunedin City Councils on a rental Warrant of Fitness (WoF) to be introduced this year.

He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme based at the University of Otago, Wellington, has been funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand to study the effects of introducing a rental housing WoF. A rental WoF would require basic standards for things like ventilation, heating, safety and hygiene in a rental property.

The Government has recently moved to require insulation and smoke alarms in all rentals, but University of Otago, Wellington researcher Dr Lucy Telfar Barnard says extensive research shows that more comprehensive measures are needed.

“The new requirements are a good start, but lack of insulation and smoke alarms aren’t the only health risks in homes. We also need basic standards for the other things like ventilation, heating and safety,” Dr Telfar Barnard says.

He Kainga Oranga will measure how a WoF affects the rental market and tenant health in Wellington and Dunedin, compared with control cities Lower Hutt and Invercargill, which are not planning to introduce a rental WOF at this stage.

Nearly half of all New Zealanders live in rental accommodation, which is on average older than owner-occupied dwellings, built to older less-stringent building codes, and less well maintained.

The Children’s Commission has called for a rental WoF to help improve children’s health and education.

Dunedin City Council is hoping the rental WoF can help to address the approximately 18,000 homes in the city which are not warm or dry enough to keep people healthy and comfortable at a reasonable cost, while Wellington City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown sees it as part of a range of initiatives to increase the quality and affordability of housing.

“We must increase the quality and affordability of our housing, particularly for vulnerable people including our students, frail elderly, and young entrepreneurs and families dependent on rental housing. “Sub-standard housing that fails to meet basic health and safety standards is just not acceptable,” Celia Wade-Brown says.

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith was reported on 11 December as saying that Councils have the power to deal with unhealthy homes under building and tenancy laws, and he encourages Councils to use them.

The Tenancy Tribunal has also said it would welcome comprehensive standards set for rental housing, to make the law clearer for its adjudicators. He Kainga Oranga has been collaborating with Victoria University law academic Dr Mark Bennett to identify the best regulatory options for councils.

He Kainga Oranga is planning to complete the research in time to inform government policy before insulation and smoke alarms become mandatory for all rentals in 2019.

As well as health and economic outcomes, the research will look at landlord experiences, including whether the WoF helps landlords identify priorities for maintenance and upgrades.

“The poor quality of rental housing in New Zealand is one of our fundamental on-going problems, contributing to our shocking child health figures and the poorer educational performance of some of our children.” says Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman from the University of Otago, Wellington.

“This cumulative disadvantage can only be addressed by raising the quality of all rental housing by working out the practicalities and business case for introducing a rental warrant of fitness,” she says.

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull says, “We know that families who live in poor quality housing spend a high proportion of their money on energy bills. Or, those unable to afford to heat their home sufficiently suffer poor health outcomes as a result.

“Our city has an ambitious goal of making sure that everyone in Dunedin lives in a warm and cosy home by 2015. Having a rental warrant of fitness or minimum standards for rental housing would be a very positive step towards this goal,” he says.

(First published on December 17.)

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