Loss of service to be keenly felt
Blenheim couple Harold and Mary Beesley attend Marlborough's largest Maori health provider, Te Rapuora o te Waiharakeke, and say its services have drastically improved their quality of life.
They are part of its kaumatua group for elderly people, whose more than 100 members meet at Te Rapuora on the corner of Grove Rd and Budge St every month.
Committee members were there on Friday preparing gifts for their Christmas party at Omaka Marae tomorrow.
Last month it was announced that Te Rapuora would close at the end of the year because of financial problems, after 26 years of serving the Maori community.
Mrs Beesley, who worked as a nurse for another Maori health provider for 40 years, said the kaumatua group helped members socialise and build relationships.
The group had helped fill the void after Mrs Beesley stopped working.
She decided to explore her Maori roots and the group helped, she said.
"Without the organisation I know I wouldn't have been able to do that. They gave me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone."
Four decades of nursing had left Mrs Beesley with back pain.
She started miri miri, or gentle massage treatment, at Te Rapuora, and said she had gained a better range of movement and higher energy levels.
Mrs Beesley used to live with back pain by taking pills but the massage sessions had dramatically reduced her need for medication, she said.
She used to swim 40 lengths before work and said she was finally back in the pool again.
Mrs Beesley also uses the disability services at Te Rapuora after developing a serious cardiac condition.
Te Rapuora staff take her to hospital appointments and sit in through consultations, she said.
"I wouldn't be able to get to my appointments otherwise and if I forget anything the doctor says, they pass that information on to Harold."
Mr Beesley started attending Te Rapuora for miri miri on the advice of his wife after undergoing a double hip replacement in 2006.
First he tried swimming to help his movement but that started to hurt, he said.
"I didn't notice much difference at first but then I started feeling much better and I'm walking fine now. I feel like a box of birds."
When kaumatua group chairwoman Erana Maxwell moved to Blenheim about a decade ago, she didn't know anybody in the area.
She heard about the group through a church member.
"Everybody was very welcoming," Mrs Maxwell said. "A lot of the kaumatua can't leave their homes so they are picked up and brought here. It's good for them to get out and talk to people."
Mrs Maxwell hoped the group would continue after Te Rapuora closed.
"We will carry on - we will meet again one day."
- The Marlborough Express