Making a life changing choice

There are moments in our lives where we have to make choices.  Some may be simple

choices, for example, deciding what to eat for lunch and some can be life changing. For example giving up smoking, losing weight, taking on a new job or going on a trip of a lifetime.

The other day I came across a story written by an inspiring man called Arthur Te Anini.  Arthur is a Rainbow Volunteer at CM Health and for many years battled with his health and his weight. Recently Arthur made a life changing choice.  He shares his story with us.

Arthur Te Anini
Arthur Te Anini

Our health professionals have the knowledge and tools at their disposal to help get the best health outcomes for their patients.  While that’s good news for the people who choose to take up this option, there are many people in our community who are doing it on their own and just getting by.  The problem is when you don’t take ownership of your health condition and have a self-management plan or support in place, you tend to end back at square one, making the same bad choices, eating the wrong kind of food, sitting on your behind watching TV, not exercising, putting on weight and de-socialising.

That was me a few months ago. At the time, I was extremely obese, 174kg, and breathless every step I took, with the aid of my walker. Moving was hard work. I would walk 10 steps then collapse on the seat of the walker, puffing and sweating.  After awhile it got too hard.  I wouldn’t go anywhere.   Then after a stint in hospital, due to a flare up of my COPD (Chronic Obstructive Respiratory Disease) my physio referred me to the Otara Better Breathing group. I loved it straight away.  The parking was free, and there were people there just like me, from all walks of life from Dannemora to Hunua, and everywhere in-between. The physiotherapist and nurses are amazing and friendly, and if you want to know what support feels like, you’ll find it here.   Answers as to why my lung is so spongy and why I am not carrying enough oxygenated blood to my heart were just a few of the many queries covered in my self-management plan.

The training is second to none, they have incredible resources. And each person completes an individual exercise plan, over 8 weeks.  There is no rushing or pressure, you do as much as you can and they give you advise on how to get the best out of every breath you take.

I can now walk for 30 minutes without stopping and know what my lungs are doing and what my heart is up too.  I have lost a sizeable amount of weight and made many lifetime friends, Irish, Samoan, Tongan, Maori, and Kiwis.

After the programme I wanted to use my experience to encourage patients and whaanau to take ownership and control of their health.  That’s why I decided to become a Rainbow Volunteer at CM Health.  It’s my way of giving back to my community.  

As for the impact, this life changing choice has had on my life.  I’ve now got my life back.
I am fitter, thinner, cheekier, and I am looking good baby!

Arthur and Geraint

If you or someone you know would benefit from the Better Breathing programme, get in touch with your GP.  Programmes are offered at Otara, Pukekohe, Howick and Manurewa.  For further information contact Sarah Candy at  

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Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

One thought on “Making a life changing choice”

  1. What an awesome story Arthur! (and all the CMH staff involved). Coming hot on the heels of watching “Big Ward” last night I think that we are moving in the right direction.

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