Support buoyed insurance battler in final days

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013
Meg Bourke
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Meg Bourke

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Bluff woman Meg Bourke, who stood up to her life insurance company, has lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

Her husband, Kevin "Stoney" Bourke, said she died with dignity at home on Sunday afternoon.

Mrs Bourke spent her final months battling her BNZ life insurance provider, after it refused to pay her full cover because she had suffered from "depression" despite her doctor confirming she had never been diagnosed with the condition.

An Invercargill financial adviser and a Christchurch solicitor then offered their services free and reached a settlement with the insurer.

At the time Mrs Bourke thanked the men who made it possible for her to enjoy her "window of time" with her loving family, during her "living wake".

She also thanked the "so many united voices" of readers who supported her "so enthusiastically".

Yesterday, Mr Bourke said people in various professions had told him they were waiting for someone to stand up to insurance companies and praised his wife for not giving up.

He said she wanted her battle to help other people avoid the same heartbreak before it was too late for them.

"A person or a place was always better after meeting Meg; she was a teacher of sorts."

He urged people to learn from his wife's experience - to read the fine print and get a copy of their medical records before filling out a life insurance form.

He said words could not express his thanks to those who had helped and supported his wife.

He also wanted to thank Mrs Bourke's extended Waitaha iwi.

Before she died Mrs Bourke organised an open invitation "party" at a Manapouri beach at 2pm on February 24, when people could pay their respects and celebrate her life.

"Frasers Beach was a special place for Meg. We got married there and used to spend many evenings swimming under the stars," Mr Bourke said.

One of her final requests was for her husband to finish his 14-year project building a 20-metre waka.

"I will finish it for my Gish [his wife's nickname] who encouraged and supported me during this project."

He expected to complete the waka within the next 12 months and use it to spread an environmental message and teach children respect for the land, sea and themselves.

Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno, who was a friend of Mrs Bourke, said she was very community minded and highly thought of.

"She was a real battler who didn't give up easily and when she believed in something she fought for it, which shone through in her dealings with her insurer," she said.

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- The Southland Times

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