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Instrumental and inspiring volunteer recognised by Minister
19 June 2018

Instrumental and inspiring volunteer recognised by Minister

One of our health system’s ‘instrumental and inspiring’ volunteers has been recognised for his work supporting Canterbury Clinical Network’s (CCN) Better Breathing programme in a ceremony at Parliament.

Mac Renata, volunteer for the Integrated Respiratory Service’s Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme, received a 2018 Minister of Health Volunteer Award for his contribution to a Māori Health service.

Health Minister Dr David Clark and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced and presented the awards in the Grand Hall, Parliament on Monday 18 June. Minister Clark said: “Mac has a long history of serving his country but he should be particularly proud of his service to his local community by helping others through the same health challenges he has faced.”

Mac, who joined the Canterbury Respiratory Consumer Working Group two years ago following the completion of an eight-week Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme, was nominated for the award by Community Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialist Louise Weatherall.

Mac says, “I had practically given up on life, but with my wife’s support, and through the Better Breathing course, I have learnt a lot about COPD, medications, and other issues. The team were great at getting me motivated to exercise. Now my fitness has improved and I’m able to get my life back on track and help others.”

In her nomination, Louise said: “Mac brings wisdom, calmness and his understated knowledge to guide us to be inclusive of Māori in all our activities.

“He is a clear and frank communicator who helps others understand the complex health system, and respiratory health specifically. He has contributed to the redesign of patient and clinician materials such as letters, flyers and pamphlets.

“He often leads the exercise component of the programme and is willing to share his health journey to help everyone. He is a tireless advocate for Māori.”

Mac was key in supporting CCN’s clinical team to provide a modified pulmonary rehabilitation programme at Rehua Marae in 2017 and he has lead the kaumātua group in exercise every week since.

In a letter supporting the nomination, Deborah Callahan, Integrated Services Programme Manager, highlighted how privileged the Canterbury health system is to have engaged diabetes and respiratory consumer groups and volunteers to carry out varied activities.

“Mac has been instrumental in improving our cultural competency by providing guidance to the team throughout the year, as well as giving the mihi whakatau at every new Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme.

“He sets the scene for every group to be one of acceptance and this is further supported when Mac tells his story.

“His engagement and leadership is extremely beneficial – he’s shown many other people how to cope with a long-term condition diagnosis, and how to thrive by helping others and by keeping moving. He is an inspiration.”