2016 Volunteer Awards recipients

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Health Volunteer of the Year

Overall winner – Sing Your Lungs Out choir volunteers

The recipients of the Health Volunteer of the Year award for 2016 are the volunteers behind Sing Your Lungs Out, a choir for people with severe respiratory disease. The choir meets weekly in Wellington and a second choir has recently been established in Porirua.

Choir members have noticed significant benefits from singing, with enhanced physical and mental wellbeing. The concept is gaining international medical recognition.

The team is also the recipient of the Community or NGO Health Service Team award.

Video title:Sing Your Lungs Out Choir - 2016 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards

[Minister of Health] I'm very pleased to announce that the Health Volunteer of the Year award for 2016, goes to the volunteers from the Sing Your Lungs Out Choir from Wellington.

[Gayle] We were stunned! We feel so happy and so grateful. It's actually for our choir participants and that's the wonderful thing, because they come every week, some of them are so compromised and it's the big thing in their life.

[Ruth] 1, 2, 3, 4!

[Choir] La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, laaaa!

[Ruth] See! You thought you couldn't do it!

And we encourage anybody to come along who's having trouble with their breathing and what we do is have fun and sing. So singing's really good and we know that singing is good for the health, but what we found is that if we can encourage them to be a group that comes together and sings together, they can benefit from all the other wonderful things that happen when you bring a group together.

[Choir singing a latin song]

[Ruth] So we perform all sorts of songs. We've got a repertoire that covers Māori, Pasifika and some good old classic favourites.

[Choir singing Sting's Every Breath You Take]

[Maureen] She was checking me out for my breathlessness, my COPD and she asked me if I liked singing and I said "Yes, I quite like singing". So she said, "Right, would you like to join our choir?" Which I joined about 18 months ago and I think it's marvelous.

[Choir singing Sting's Every Breath You Take]

[Maureen] We're all the same. We've all got breathlessness and COPD. So we get on very well together.

[Choir singing Sting's Every Breath You Take]

[Ruth] Nice, we're going to stop there. Lovely, nice. Take a seat.


Health Minister Jonathan Coleman with representatives of Sing Your Lungs Out.

Health Care Provider Service Team Volunteers

Joint winners – Medical Team, Camp Purple

For the second year in a row, a five-day camp for children with Crohn’s Disease was made possible by a committed team of medical volunteers.

The team of four gastroenterologists and five specialist nurses donated a week of their holiday time to attend, and spent a year organising the camp and procuring medical supplies, as well as fundraising the $65,000 annual cost for the camp.

This year’s camp was entirely free of charge, including airfares, for the 48 children aged 9 to 16 years who attended.

The team also organised a two-day seminar for 25 parents to provide education, support and an opportunity to network with other caregivers.

Joint winners – Rainbow Volunteers, Counties Manukau Health

The Rainbow Volunteers engage in a variety of tasks to help patients at Middlemore Hospital and make their stay more comfortable.

The volunteers come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, which reflects the vibrant multi-cultural environment of South Auckland.

Many of the volunteers are local school or university students keen to find out more about a career in health. Volunteering gives them a chance to network with health professionals and go into a ‘talent pipeline’. This contributes to Counties Manukau Health’s workforce strategy of growing its own health professionals from within the community.

Runner-up – Hospital Friends of Dargaville Hospital

Six volunteers make up the Hospital Friends, who have provided comfort and support to patients and their family and whānau for nearly six years.

They spend time with the patients, attend to personal needs, do general housekeeping, help distribute patient lunches, make up hospital beds, put clean linen away and help keep the ward tidy.

Runner-up – Breastfeeding Support Otago & Southland

Breastfeeding Support Otago & Southland is a volunteer service run for mothers by mothers.

Volunteers take part in a 30-hour training course, based on the La Leche League New Zealand programme, which enables them to provide one-on-one breastfeeding support and information via phone, text, email or home visits.

In some areas, they hold informal drop-in sessions, which can reach mothers who do not access health services.

The service started in 2010 and approximately 150 volunteers have been trained since then.


Health Care Provider Service Individual Winners

Winner – Geraldine Donovan

Auckland District Health Board’s Blue Coat service is the first point of call for visitors, patients and their families. Geraldine Donovan is an exemplary Blue Coat, and has been since 2005.

She manages information desks, recruits and trains new volunteers, directs and assists people to their appointments, and makes visitors feel welcome.

She played a key role in writing the Blue Coat manual, and re-fits Blue Coat uniforms for other Blue Coat volunteers.

Runner-up – Andrea Buckland

​Andrea Buckland has worked closely with Mary Potter Hospice patients and their families in her various volunteer roles in the Kāpiti area since June 2011.

She is a skilled volunteer biographer, who works with terminally ill patients in their homes to record the person’s life story, creating a professionally produced biography keepsake for the person and their loved ones.

She also volunteers as a day unit volunteer, looking after patients and attending to their practical needs. She assists with biannual remembrance services, and is quick to offer her help with any other special requests.

Runner-up – John Devine

As a volunteer, John Devine’s commitment to the Central Otago Living Options’ day centre is almost full-time.

He mows the centre’s extensive lawns, maintains equipment and fixes items that need repair.

He gives up paid employment to transport people to different events and involves people in various activities such as bowls, outdoor camps and Special Olympics training, as well as a training café where people can practise their hospitality skills.

Runner-up – Traci Stanbury

Traci Stanbury has represented children and their families for the past seven years. She was previously on the Family Advisory Committee, and is the consumer representative on the Child and Youth Health South Island Alliance and for the Health Quality & Safety Commission consumer panels.

She provides feedback from people using hospital services, with the aim of improving services.

Her interviews with parents in waiting areas at Christchurch Hospital showed that the waiting areas were not set up for children. This led to improved waiting areas, making them more child friendly.


Community or NGO Health Service Team Volunteers

Winner - Sing Your Lungs Out choir volunteers

Also the Overall winner.

Runner up – Warmliners

Warmline is a telephone peer support line for people with mental illness living in Canterbury and the West Coast. The line operates from 1 pm to midnight, seven days a week. The phones are operated by up to 30 volunteers, who have themselves experienced mental illness.

Each month, the trained volunteers, known as Warmliners, collectively answer about 400 calls, spending approximately an hour on each call. People find the service invaluable, as they are able to call and talk to someone who understands their experiences.


Community or NGO Health Service Individual Winners

Winner – Ian Handcock

In 2014 Ian Handcock set up a group called Fit 4 Farming, made up of farmers in the Bay of Plenty, who are passionate about making New Zealand farmers the fittest farmers in the world.

Under Ian’s leadership, the Fit 4 Farming group has tirelessly promoted the importance of being physically fit, to help manage the ups and downs of running a farming business.

He has organised events and initiatives to spread health and wellbeing messages throughout rural communities. The Farmstrong Challenge, organised by Ian and his team, attracted 992 people who collectively ran or cycled 508,109 kilometres through 22,577 separate journeys over nine months.

Over 500 people took part in the Fit 4 Farming cycle tour, which travelled the length of New Zealand over 16 days.

Runner-up – Beatrice Tui Yates, QSM

In Rotorua, ‘Aunty Bea’ has a long background of community services, which includes raising awareness about health issues.

She was instrumental in setting up Te Whakapono Health Trust, and has been a Trust member since it was founded in 2004. The Trust has been a driving force in establishing Rotorua’s own dialysis unit, raising close to $1 million in less than a year. The Trust contributed to the costs of upgrading Rotorua Hospital’s chemotherapy suite, provided patients’ families with accommodation in the hospital grounds, secured a mobile ear clinic for the city’s children and provides assistance for stroke victims.

On a personal level, Beatrice has been a street collector for many years, benefitting many organisations including the Cancer Society and St John.

Runner-up – Claudia Mushin

Claudia, a polio survivor, has coordinated the Wellington Polio Group for more than 10 years. She maintains regular personal contact with individual members, seeks out new members, works through accessibility and mobility equipment issues, organises events and provides information on polio, as well as making health warnings and advice available.

She has become the ‘go to’ polio person for the Wellington area, assists the national Polio Board and is working with Massey University on a computerised accessibility information service to assist those with physical impairments.


Māori/Pacific Health Team Volunteers

Winner – Nga Whānau Haua o Te Roopu Waiora

Whanau Haua are a unique roopu of whānau who have many disabilities, including whānau turi (people who are Deaf), whānau kāpo (people who are blind), whānau hinengaro (people with an intellectual disability) and whānau wakaturu (people with a physical disability) and their atawhai (carers).

They have formed their collective wisdom to help whānau haua and their carers place ‘the direction of life back into the hands of whānau’, under the umbrella of the Te Roopu Waiora Trust.

They have gathered both formally and informally for nearly 13 years to feed into agencies, community services, ministries and iwi and disability forums.

Runner-up – Cook Islands OP Volunteers

The 12 Cook Islands OP Volunteers have provided their services to the two Vaka Tautua Cook Islands Older People’s Groups for the past 14 years. Most of the volunteers are family carers and bring an older family member to the group and stay to help them, as well as other members of the group.

Vaka Tautua has only two paid older people’s coordinators, who look after nearly 120 members – the volunteers enable them to carry out programme activities each week. They set up the room, prepare morning tea, prepare and serve lunches, clean, run Zumba classes and help with other activities.

Runner-up – Te Mangai Kaumātua

Te Mangai Kaumātua is a group of kaumātua who provide advice and support for the health services delivered by MidCentral District Health Board.

They contribute in many ways, including guidance across all tikanga of the organisation. They also contribute to a wide range of service areas, such as pain management initiatives, ED responsiveness, diabetes management, the development and naming of services, and signage and Te Reo.

The kaumātua also give advice on whānau care, tikanga support across complaint processes, review of clinical spaces and advice on responsive and culturally safe environments.


Māori/Pacific Health Volunteer Individual Winners

Winner – Moafagatau Tuifao Lologa

Moafagatau Tuifao Lologa has made a big difference to the Pacific community in the Wairarapa, through his church, and independently within the wider Pacific community. For many years, he has helped new Pacific families settle in the district, and has helped them engage with, and enrol for, health and social services.

He works on a number of projects that support local families in need, and has recently established a community driven healthy lifestyle programme. This involves the community working in collaboration with health partners such as Compass Health, Regional Public Health and the Wairarapa District Health Board to benefit community health.

Runner-up – Aroha Hōhipera Reriti-Crofts, CBE, JP

Aroha Hōhipera Reriti-Crofts joined Te Ropu Wāhine Māori Toku i te Ora o Ōtautahi (Māori Women’s Welfare League Ōtautahi branch) in 1968, and has provided volunteering services ever since.

Her insight and tireless effort has benefitted statutory services, and has initiated community activities such as ‘Healthy Day at the Pa’. This is an event Aroha established to ensure that Māori whānau had access to health information, health checks and services through an ongoing monthly hui at the marae since 2006.

Under her leadership and guidance, the branch has provided a range of programmes through its service arm Te Puawaitanga Ki Ōtautahi, such as Kai in the Yard and Parents as First Teachers, which focus on child safety and improving the lifestyle of kaumātua.

Through her mentorship many of the branch’s members and members of the community now have the capability and confidence to continue her good work.

Runner-up – Metui Finau

Over the past three years, Metui has been a part of the Alliance Health Plus Trust extended family, helping out at community events.

In particular, Metui assisted with the Mama’s House events, which have been held at Polyfest, Pacific festivals and Pacific churches around Auckland. Mama’s House engages with Pacific communities about the prevention of rheumatic fever.

Metui helped with the event management, attracting crowds and entertaining those present as the emcee of the event. His attitude to helping others was infectious, and he was always available to do anything that needed to be done.

Tragically, Metui passed away suddenly on 24 March 2016 at the age of 29.


Youth Health Team Volunteers

Winner – Totara Hospice Youth Ambassador Team

The Totara Hospice Youth Ambassador Team started volunteering for Totara Hospice South Auckland in 2013. They commit over 1600 hours of time to the Hospice each year, while juggling their school and social commitments.

They fundraise in the community, and gather other students to take part in events such as the Sunrise Walk for Hospice. They cook, clean, set up, sell raffles and serve food at the Hospice’s breakfast, lunch and Christmas fundraising events.

Several youth ambassadors have begun to speak at events as well. They support third party events, hosted by other Hospice supporters, such as Rotary NZ and the local golf club.

Last year they raised $36,000 for the Totara Hospice.

Runner-up – StarJam Magic Movers Volunteer Team

StarJam provides music and performance opportunities for young people with disabilities. The Magic Movers are one of StarJam’s dance workshops, with 11 young people, one tutor and two volunteers. They meet weekly to socialise, learn dances and perform for each other, gaining confidence and independence while in a safe environment.

Samantha Denton, 22, and Karis Knight, 23, are the Magic Movers volunteers. They have been volunteering on a weekly basis for over two years, while continuing their studies and part time employment.

They also support the Magic Movers when they take part in community gigs, such as at market days or conferences and they teach the workshop themselves if the tutor is away.

Runner-up – StarJam Jazzy Jammers

​Kayte Beavis and Rebecca Evans have volunteered at StarJam for five years. StarJam is a music and performance-based charity for young people with disabilities. Kayte and Rebecca volunteer with the Jazzy Jamming dance workshop every Wednesday night throughout the school term. Their role is to support the Jammers each week to have fun, and make the Jammers feel good about themselves.

Last year they travelled with 10 Jammers to perform at two events in Tauranga. They also help with StarJam Hamilton’s end of year show, monthly community events and a newly established event – term discos.


Youth Health Individual Winners

Winner – Bridget McLaren and her Mobility Assistance Dog, Goldie

Twenty-four-year-old Bridget McLaren and her Mobility Assistance Dog, Goldie, have been volunteering for the Wairarapa DHB, promoting disability initiatives since May 2015. The role involves promoting Health Passports and Disability Alert Icons.

Bridget experiences impairment herself in the form of cerebral palsy. She uses an electric wheelchair to get around, and is ably and reliably assisted by Goldie.

Bridget and Goldie approach people and explain the value of the initiatives, and how they work to improve the experience of people who have impairments or long-term health conditions when accessing health services. Over 500 Health Passports have been given to people who have been approached within the Wairarapa community.

Runner-up – Chanté Sua

Chanté Sua has been volunteering with Recreate since 2012, joining as a Year 12 student. Recreate NZ is a charity providing life-changing experiences for young people with disabilities, through adventure, recreation, social and education programmes.

Over the past 12 months, she has volunteered an average of 250 hours, taking part in many of Recreate’s programmes around the country. Her roles are varied, and include providing support to young people with disabilities and supporting Recreate facilitators to deliver their programmes.

However, Chanté’s most important role is to be a friend to the young people who attend.

Runner-up – Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall has been with StarJam since mid-2014, when the first StarJam workshop opened in Kāpiti.

She helps the tutor each week with the Dazzling Dance workshop – an hour and a half each Wednesday night, where young people with disabilities (some very severe) are empowered through dance.

Her role is to make sure that the young people in the workshop are safe, enjoying themselves and are included in the dances irrespective of their disability.

Not only does she attend the weekly workshops but she also supports Jammers at the gigs that are designed to show the world what people with disabilities can do.

Runner-up – Jock Davies

Jock Davies was 11 when he was selected as the 2015 Child Cancer Foundation National Ambassador, representing the hundreds of children nationwide who are supported by the foundation. Jock, who is from Tapanui, spent two years undergoing cancer treatment.

By sharing his story, Jock helped to make the childhood cancer journey, and all its challenges, very real to those who have not experienced it.

As a Child Cancer Foundation National Ambassador, he assisted the foundation with many activities for the 2015 Annual Appeal Campaign.

Throughout the year, Jock spoke eloquently at high-profile events. He also spoke to his peers, both at his own and other schools, about what it is like to have cancer.

Jock’s maturity and enthusiasm to help has assisted the foundation with communicating the true impact of cancer and the need for fundraising, which in turn has helped hundreds of other children with cancer and their families.


Long Service Volunteer Winners

Winner – Sue Sutton

Sue Sutton has worked as a volunteer leader for La Leche League New Zealand in the South Auckland and Franklin areas for almost 45 years. She provides breastfeeding support and information, mainly through mother-to-mother support.

Sue has set up La Leche League groups in towns across the region, including Manurewa in 1971. In the 1980s she established a weekly drop-in coffee group at Pukekohe Maternity Unit for mums and babies throughout the Franklin area.

She has facilitated hundreds of meetings and gatherings where mums can share their breastfeeding experiences in a friendly atmosphere to encourage and support those who attend.

Her role extends to telephone help and home visits, and she regularly gives antenatal and postnatal talks on breastfeeding for organisations such as Parents Centre, throughout the greater South Auckland area.

Runner-up – Doris Fiddell

Doris Fiddell started as a Meals on Wheels volunteer with New Zealand Red Cross in 1962. She is still delivering meals 54 years later, and has contributed over 2000 hours as a volunteer.

Doris uses her own vehicle to deliver hot lunches once a fortnight for a team delivering in the Panmure/Point England area. Deliveries usually take 60 to 90 minutes to complete, and involve a 10-kilometre drive. She previously delivered meals in the Central Auckland and Mt Eden areas.

Doris is now aged 87 and, although she has had knee and hip replacements, she continues to deliver meals to people who are in need.

Runner-up – Margaret Wickens

Margaret Wickens trained as a volunteer conversation partner with the Volunteer Stroke Scheme in 1990, and since then has given thousands of hours to helping people with post-stroke communication impairments.

Over this time, she has worked as a conversation partner with seven different patients at various times. This involves using strategies recommended by the speech-language therapist so that the patient has focused conversation time to practise these strategies and gain confidence.

Margaret has also helped to facilitate three different conversation groups over approximately nine years, meeting each week with two or three other volunteers, and up to eight clients, to converse together.

Margaret’s role as a facilitator is to help provide a safe environment, where the clients are encouraged to talk, and are enabled to do so as a result of the skills and strategies she uses.

Runner-up – Ali Riasat

Ali Riasat, 79, was a volunteer with Diabetes NZ Auckland for 20 years, one of their longest-serving volunteers. Until he passed away recently he volunteered full-time Monday to Friday in the Auckland Branch.

During this time, he organised Diabetes NZ Auckland’s annual raffle, and helped with the Diabetes Youth Auckland community and their annual camp.

Other roles included arranging hours for volunteers, the 17 Support Groups throughout Auckland and monthly management meetings. He managed the distribution of pamphlet resources, collated materials for events and covered reception. 

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