Whānau Ora Plan brings fitness for life

Te Arawa Whānau Ora collective works in their community to help people find the support they need. In the story below, they share how they helped a local father of three to lead a healthier life.

Comparison photos, showing Hotorene when he was overweight compared with him looking fitter now.
Hotorene before and after his Whānau Ora journey.

For Hotorene Brown (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) the shock came when he was told at the age of 37 that if he did not change his lifestyle then his three young sons would grow up without him. Hotorene knew he had to do something and so began a three year journey that has seen him take control of his health and his destiny.

The Whānau Ora plan he developed with Te Arawa Whānau Ora collective played a key role in this, ‘making a plan and detailing my goals made me look at my reality and by doing that I couldn’t ignore my health any longer,’ says Hotorene.

Initially, Hotorene’s goal was to get off of the medication he needed to keep his blood pressure under control but it was the medication that was keeping him from having a stroke. As a result he had to work out what key goals would enable him to get there.

The first thing he did was get a bike and begin to take the 32 km journey from Mourea to Rotorua and back each day. He began to find the control he needed to eat a balanced diet and make healthy eating choices.

‘The support I got from my Paearahi was important because having someone there who understood how to navigate those initial challenges meant I could get over some of the speed bumps I encountered early on,’ says Hotorene.

Paearahi support people with their Whānau Ora journey by helping them work out the strengths they already have and use those skills to move themselves forward. ‘It wasn’t easy,’ Hotorene continues thoughtfully, the challenges were huge. However, drawing up his Whānau Ora plan forced him to look truthfully at himself, where he was and where he wanted to be. It turned out that it was a life saver.

Looking back it still seems like a dream, but when he looks in the mirror he can finally see the effort. Something that Hotorene didn’t anticipate were the many whānau, friends and strangers that are now looking to him for guidance, support and inspiration.

‘It feels good to be able to help others by sharing what I’ve learned,’ he says humbly. He is proud to know that his three boys are learning habits that will stay with them for a lifetime, such as healthy eating and working together as a whānau to stay healthy and fit.

‘Teaching my tamariki how to stay fit and have good eating habits is a legacy I look forward to giving them,’ says Hotorene.

Now there is no stopping him. Going forward, Hotorene’s plan is to take on a Powerlifting competition. Ka mau te wehi!

This story was originally published on the Te Arawa Whānau Ora website.

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