Good health, fitness all in family

21:58, Jun 26 2014
Active family
The active Lambert family - from left; Vili Mokole, Eilis Lambert (11), Teia Lambert (13), Maureen Lambert, Billie-Jean Lambert and Jemma Lambert.

The Lambert family know how important building a healthy future is.

Richard and Maureen Lambert, and their four girls, Jemma, 24, Billie-Jean, 22, Teia, 13, and Eilis, 11, embody the new Maori health strategy launched last week.

The overarching aim of the updated strategy He Korowai Oranga is pae ora, or healthy futures, and for active mum Maureen, who was born deaf, encouraging her children to be active and healthy is a priority.

"Mum and Dad's biggest goal is to encourage us kids to be active on our own and without them around," Billie-Jean said.

"Dad has diabetes and we come from a big Maori family with a history of diabetes, so we can see where it could take us if we don't look after ourselves."

An accident that left daughter Teia with brain damage when she was 5 is another incentive to keep the family's health in focus.


While Maureen is a keen walker and Jemma, Billie-Jean and Eilis play netball and hockey, and enter triathlons, Teia is unable to play most sports.

Through Teia, the Lamberts were referred to Sport Manawatu's Green Prescription Active Families programme, which involves a weekly sporting activity session for the family.

"Teia doesn't get a chance to try a lot of sports because of her brain injury so it's a lot of fun for her, it's the only social thing she does. She looks forward to it every week," Jemma said.

"For us older two, it's about trying to eat healthier and get healthy now, and for the younger kids it's about making healthy normal for them so they don't have to do what we're doing."

Active Families co-ordinator Marcus Howie said the programme was about getting families together to try different activities.

The Lamberts stood out to Howie as a dedicated Maori family that never missed a session.

"They all come together and you always get the one family who never misses a session, they give it their all and are always willing to give it a crack," he said.

The new concept of pae ora, launched by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia on Friday, is an extension of the previous Maori health strategy and is built on three core principles - mauri ora, whanau ora and wai ora - healthy lives, healthy families and healthy environments.

Sport Manawatu chief executive Trevor Shailer said the strategy was about Maori families having a plan for themselves and their future.

"Health isn't just about going to the doctor and the doctor diagnosing disease, it's about giving whanau the opportunity to have leadership and the ability to have a plan for themselves, rather than having other people tell them what they should be doing," he said.

"It's actually allowing them to have that ownership and aspirations for their own health and to enable them to be able to access the tools and support to put that in place."

Manawatu Standard