Huringa Pai at the heart of health and fitness movement in Gisborne

Huringa Pai at the heart of health and fitness movement in Gisborne

New Zealand Community Trust is pleased to announce a grant of $20,000 to the Huringa Pai Charitable Trust towards a 3D body scanner. This will greatly assist in adjusting diet, evaluating body posture, designing exercises, tracking weight loss and body composition status to support motivating whānau to make positive and sustainable changes in their lifestyles.

The Trust has enjoyed great success with their programme, which focusses on the whānau as a group, and is now working more intensively on a one-on-one basis to support lifestyle changes with diet and exercise to prevent and eradicate pre-diabetes and diabetes. The body scanner plays an integral part in their clinical follow-up and helps motivate whānau to make sustainable changes, since they can track physical changes on the scanner app over a period of time.

Tired of witnessing too many in his community lose their lives unnecessarily to diabetes and heart disease, Gisborne GP, Willem Jordaan, launched a health and fitness movement called Huringa Pai (Positive Change) in 2015. His mission was to support whānau to make positive health changes with diet and nutrition education and to encourage participation in exercise classes and local sporting events.

“Even in this modern day and age Māori still die on average 10 years earlier than Pākehā, with the major cause of death related to cardiovascular disease from stroke and heart attack,” Willem says. “Major contributors to this cardiovascular disease are chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

The Huringa Pai movement became a charitable trust in mid-2016 with a Board consisting of whānau who had been on a life-changing health journey themselves and who became role models and leaders in their community. Since its inception, Huringa Pai has helped approximately 300 people improve their health. Willem says their philosophy of 'for the whānau, by the whānau' lies at the heart of their success.

“The reason we are having such a positive impact is because it is whānau-driven. We believe that only a combined, cross-organisational whānau ora effort is the way to address this issue. We also believe that by engaging our tamariki, we will see a sustainable change in the future.

“Part of our plan is to identify patients living with pre-diabetes and to address this with them. We empower them to make positive change through diet and exercise and support them every step of the way,” says Willem, who specialises in indigenous health. “The fitness classes are very popular with around 45 people attending each session. By getting funding to pay the fitness instructor, our classes are accessible for everyone. It has become an institution on Tuesday and Thursday nights where the community come together, connect, and get healthy.

“Our whānau used to have the worst statistics of diabetes in New Zealand and I’m proud to say that our fitness classes and the positive effect they have had on our community mean that lots of our whānau are now free of diabetes.”