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A mother’s love and battle with cancer

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A mother’s love and battle with cancer!

stephanie and david harawira

David Harawira is battling cancer. Sitting in the Mana Office with his mum Stephanie, you can feel immediately the warm whanau vibe humming throughout the underground complex in Henderson, west Auckland. Accompanying Stephanie and David is Jen, who I assumed was waiting to Hui with Stephanie but I’ll later learn is there to lend moral support. In the room next door is Stephanie’s tamariki and husband Tai – brother of Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira. David’s battle is still very raw for Stephanie - as if her little boy was diagnosed just yesterday. Tears rolling down her face, you can sense a very real feeling of pouri… fear… but also a mother’s love for her boy. Stephanie and David talk to Kelly Pohatu about the journey.


Stephanie Harawira and her son David embrace and celebrate each day as if it’s his last.


David is 13 and in his second year at Liston Boys’ College, west Auckland, when his normal routine changed dramatically.


That’s was in October, 2013 when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).


It’s been 10 months since David complained of a swollen neck and Stephanie took him to doctor. He was sent home with antibiotics for what appeared to be the flu.


But when David’s condition worsened, Stephanie took him back to the GP and they carried out a full range of blood tests. With no explanation, they were then sent to Auckland Children’s Hospital Starship for more tests and then sent home again.


“We were frustrated and I was infuriated because no one could tell us what was wrong with my boy. We were left in limbo for about a month,” Stephanie said.


When the news finally came, it was not good. David was diagnosed with an acute form of leukaemia or cancer of white blood cells, caused by an overproduction of cancerous immature white blood cells known as lymphoblasts.


David admitted he was scared when told he had cancer.


“I didn’t know what it was and had never heard about it before. But I knew it was serious,” said David, who has an 80% chance of beating it.


And for Stephanie, that high percentage of survival is what keeps her going.


“We’re taking 80% and running with it, Stephanie said. “People have lived to tell the tale of their battle with cancer, so we remain positive.”


Stephanie’s passion has always been her whanau and community. A mum of five, Stephanie’s work has been recognised with a Local Hero award and she was also a New Zealander of the Year finalist. She is a Justice of the Peace and a marriage celebrant, and an executive member of Ezekiel 33 Trust and Ngapuhi ki Waitemata Takiwa. She’s an administrator of the New Zealand Maori Council and a member of Hau Wairua.


David’s battle has meant a change of lifestyle for Stephanie as well. From being an active mum in the community, most of her time and energy is now focussed on David’s care and wellbeing.


“David can have a seizure at any time so he needs around-the-clock supervision,” Stephanie said.


“He’s also at risk of getting quite ill if he caught a cough off someone else so we remain quite isolated from the world, to protect him.”


“No more hui for me!” she laughs. “Well, not as often I used to attend our community Hui anyhow.”


David is receiving chemotherapy, so he and his mum make regular trips to Starship.


“It can be painful sometimes and I will always get tired after going through chemo,” David said.


Stephanie admitted she and her whanau struggled with chemo because they felt powerless.


“We didn’t have any other treatment options for my boy and so that was a real challenge for us as a whanau,” Stephanie said.


“By law, he was to receive chemotherapy treatment. And this made me angry!”


David is taking a break from school while he undergoes treatment but plans to return in 2015.


“I want to be an architect one day because that’s my passion,” David explains.


David has one more cycle to complete the 12 months of intense chemotherapy. He will then have three years of maintenance, which involves monitoring and smaller doses of chemotherapy.


“I miss being a normal kid, going to school and playing sport,” David said.


“But most of all I miss my friends. “


Stephanie and her whanau went through stages of emotional grief while coming to terms with David’s cancer.


She said families are offered support services including counselling services.


“We’ve been angry, sad, fearful but most importantly, we’ve been joyful,” Stephanie said.


“We’ve come to terms with David’s cancer and it’s shown us a whole new level of love.”


She says it has made them truly grateful in life.


“It has given a whole new meaning, a different perspective in our lives!”


“We are thankful for each day so we have fun! We take him out for lunch almost every day. We go to the movies a lot, my husband tells me don’t you deny him anything,” she laughs.


“We’re grateful the chemotherapy treatment is working and we’ll continue to be there for him and each other; and of course we’ll continue to spoil him,” she laughs. “But most of all we’ll continue to love him and we’ll celebrate each and every day with him.”


“Ma te atua hei manaaki.”


Whanau Waipareira offers support to whanau who have been diagnosed with cancer...


Community Health Navigator

we provide support to Whānau who have been diagnosed with cancer. Supporting them with GP and specialist visits.


The Norman’s conquest

Monday, August 18, 2014

Brad and Lance Norman


Lance and Brad Norman are the first of our Waipareira whānau to be profiled. It’s not because of the positions they hold in the organisation, but because they were the easiest targets. Lance is Director of Funding & Contracting for Outcomes, while the younger Norman Brad is Director of Business Solutions. While Lance has been mistaken as Brad’s father, one question asked of the brothers is, ‘Are you Jerry Norman’s boy?’


If you ask Lance what he does, it will take five minutes to explain where he fits within the many organisations and Boards he is part of. The same goes when you ask Brad his whakapapa (5 iwi affiliations). The lists are endless. But also endless is the mahi these two talented brother’s churn through on behalf of Whanau Waipareira.


Both were brought up on the North Shore and attended Glenfield College before going to Auckland University to gain Bachelor degrees of Commerce majoring in Accounting and Marketing. Not sure if they are copy cats but as the picture above shows, they also like to dress the same.


Lance’s CV would sit comfortably with a director of any of the top 10 companies in the country. A Senior Auditor with Ernst & Young, Financial Controller for Black & Decker NZ, Business Manager for DeVere Textiles, Business Manager and later CEO for Waiora Healthcare, Deputy CEO of Waitemata PHO, Senior Advisor for NUMA and also CEO of Hapai and the role he has with Waipareira.


Not to be outdone, Brad also has an impressive skill base having worked for Carter Holt Harvey as an assistant accountant, in London as a Treasury Accountant of Product & Controls Accountant for Europe’s leading investment bank, Finance Manager for Waiora Healthcare and now Waipareira.


But it’s their down-to-earth nature from their parents which is one of their most outstanding assets.


And being accountants, they like routine. Every Christmas growing up was with their Mum’s whānau in Matakohe (toward Dargaville) and New Years with Dad’s whānau at the top of the island (Hauhora/Rarawa).


Brad is married to Mel and they have two boys Jesse (3) and Ben (1).


But it’s not just the academic field where Brad excels.


He was a 1st XV rep with Glenfield College, North Harbour Māori Colts rep and represented Harbour and New Zealand in gymnastics and Harbour in touch rugby. Lance is married to Trish and they have four children, Jada (12), Andre (10), Marcus (8), and Luke (6).


While Lance’s sporting pedigree doesn’t quite match his younger brother - 1st 15 Glenfield College, North Harbour Maori Rugby & Touch, Massey Maulers (presidents Rugby), their commitment to Waipareira and the whanau is unwavering.


So Brad, what’s it like working with your older brother?


“It’s great. We have a good relationship ‘on and off the field’. It’s always good to have an older bro you can look up to and learn from, particularly in the professional arena but not so much in the sporting arena these days. I’m still undecided on whether being on 20 different Boards like Lance is the healthy way to go.


“Plus there is always room for a bit of whānau rivalry. I think that is one of those things that underpins being brothers! We’ve also had a couple of ‘Whānau Olympics’, where we paired up against our other cousins and that can be dangerous when we combine! Mind you, we’re talking 10+ years ago, so with us both being accountants, I think we can acknowledge that there’s been quite a bit of “depreciation”..!”


But Lance sees the rivalry differently.


“Working with your brother is good. There is no competition as I'm generally better at most things. Sometimes I let Brad run around me when we play touch rugby to build up his confidence. Likewise at work, I let him take credit for our work projects so he feels part of the team.


As for being Jerry Norman’s son?


Brad: “It’s better than being Lance Norman’s son... which some people have mistakenly thought. I guess as a son, you take pride in the accomplishments of your parents, and with a father like we have to look up to and still learn from we can only be proud. We also need to acknowledge our mother Fay who has done so much for the Māori and Pasifika communities where she has taught for over 35 year and just hope that they will be as equally as proud of us in our respective journeys.


Lance: It's good having me as a son. Quite often I am introduced as Jerry's son or Brad’s brother. Some Kaimahi thought I was Brad’s dad. I had to raise a QIF on the last one, but its good working with and for Whanau.”


FIT-A-THON for the Whānau

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Team Waipareira sprang into action on Sunday to raise money and kai for the whanau.
More than 100 whanau braved the wintery conditions to support an amazing kaupapa – the Waipareira Food Bank.  Nana, koro, mum, dad and the tamariki came to exercise at Western Heights Primary School in Massey and aid whanau less fortunate.

The fundraiser was initiated by whanau who attend Waipareira's weekly community fitness programmes, run out of the Trust Stadium. These three amazing people knew that they wanted but also had to do something to also support whanau in need, so they did exactly that...they organised an event, "the kaimahi from Waipareira do amazing mahi for whanau out in the community, this was our way to support what they do..paying it forward."

So what better way to get the message out than a Fit-A-Thon?

Yolanda Bucheler, Kaimahi for Incredible Years and Parents As First Teachers and Delane Mackey tapped into their extensive networks to see who would be interested in supporting this kaupapa.  The response was overwhelming, with all instructors wanting to support the kaupapa.  All instructors were given 15 minutes to deliver their choice of programme, high impact, with each starting a couple of minutes from the last.

Entry was a $5 and a can of food. The team raised over $730.00 and also collected 12 boxes of canned food for Waipareira's Food Bank.
Great event and a great result by Team Waipareira!