‘Polio: Life Stage Matters’

The Polio: Life Stage Matters conference held at the Fours Seasons Hotel in Sydney, 20 – 22 September 2016 was a real success.  Polio Survivors and expert presenters from 14 countries attended, including 16 from New Zealand and everyone was blown away by the quality of the presentations, the buzz of conversation during the breaks and the number of initiatives being taken to improve the lives of polio survivors. In the next few months it is intended that videos of all the presentations will be available on:  http://www.polioaustralia.org.au/polio-conference-life-stage-matters/


2nd annual Polio NZ retreat at QE Health in Rotorua

Over 50 of our members attended the 2nd annual retreat at QE Health in Rotorua. It was wonderful to see so many of us enjoying the program, and spending time catching up with old friends. Queen Elizabeth Hospital may be old and tired (a bit like most of us!) but she holds a lot of memories for many of us. There will soon be a new QE Hospital, and the relationship will continue. John Tierney, president of Polio Australia attended, and also Reggie Kumar from Fiji who was in NZ to get a new caliper after having his for over 40 years.

Volunteers Jenny, Sue and Ann worked over and above the call of duty to provide us lovely lunches, morning and afternoon teas. We all met down town for a casual meal on Friday night, and on Saturday we had a wonderful, dinner at the Regent Hotel. It is good to have a treat sometimes.

Ortho-bionomy, a gentle body manipulation designed to relief pain, was a new treatment to most of us, and was demonstrated by Jenny Chapman, much to the delight of the many she worked on throughout the day. We also had presentations on current pharmacology as it relates to us, an introduction to Medic Alert systems, and a walk through display by several vendors of assistive devices, mobility aids, and easy, light, ramps. Freedom Mobility, a company that provides rental vehicles designed for those of us with mobility issues, talked to us about travel within New Zealand.

Three of our own members talked to us. Marlayna reminded us that our mind and body are not separate, and we need to practise mindfulness, while Steve Griffiths gave a power point presentation on his vacation in the Maldives. The photos of Steve diving with giant whale sharks were inspiring. Dame Malvina Majors gave a short interview along with her brother, who had polio, before they entertained us with a yodel! Gordon Jackman, Polio NZ’s programme manager, gave a presentation on progress of the strategic plan including the establishment of post polio clinics in Auckland , Rotorua and Christchurch and improving the provision of orthotic services.

This was our first retreat in Queen Elizabeth, and there were some moments of chaos, with a bit too much walking for lots of us. We have learnt from these points, and taken on board the feedback from the evaluation surveys, so next time will be even better. 2017 will see more time to sit and catch up, or use the therapy pools, and the walking will be kept to a minimum We are having our next (3rd) retreat in Queen Elizabeth, and it will be combined with the yearly AGM, October 6th, 7th & 8th.

So mark these dates in your diary, and watch for further announcements throughout the year.

Polio NZ Inc.’s. President

Barry Holland was elected President of our Society at the Christchurch Jubilee Conference October 2014.   He is experienced in governance roles having served on a number of community groups including the Auckland Racing Club.  Barry also comes with fifty years’ experience in radio, television, marketing and advertising; skills which will be capitalized on as he leads the Board as media front man.

He was three years old when he contracted polio and spent nine months in Auckland Hospital and another three in the Wilson Home.   Barry considers himself fortunate having been primarily affected in the one leg but nevertheless, being able to run and physically compete with his peers during school years.  Carolyn is his wife of 47 years and together they had three children.

He began acknowledging some increased weakness or other such symptoms which were largely ‘annoying’ until into his 60’s, when he noticed he was falling more regularly and people would ask him if he was, ’managing ok’. Now he is aware that his faithful and previously reliable left leg is beginning to complain about having worked twice as hard all these years and his gait is definitely changing.  ‘However, it just has to be managed’, Barry says, but he is determined that others within New Zealand should have awareness of late effect issues of polio, be supported in  coming to terms with these and their management, and that professionals who support the many thousands of polio survivors should also be better informed.

Barry is particularly enthused by the increasingly close collaboration between Polio NZ and our Australian counterpart Polio Australia. Board Members of both organizations have attended each other’s Retreats and Gordon Jackson is representing the Membership on the steering committee for the Australian-Pacific Post-Polio Conference to be held in Sydney, 20 – 22 September 2016. A close and cooperative relationship is proving to be both supportive and highly educative as our Australian cousins’ share the progress and pit falls they have encountered.

For those interested a History of the Board and Officers names can be found here


Beach picture


The late effects of Poliomyelitis

This is the web site of Polio NZ Inc. (Formerly Post Polio Support Society of NZ Inc)

It provides information and support for the members of the society and others who have post-polio syndrome.

If you know anyone who has had Polio, we are able to help them with information and support through our 23 Support Groups throughout New Zealand: 0800 416 546

Our Newsletter comes out 3 times a year. The latest issue is now on line.
Download in PDF format or read in Clickbook format online here

Polio and Post Polio

Detailed descriptions of polio and post-polio syndrome, including a list of the symptoms of post polio and how to manage the syndrome.

More infohere

Criteria for suspecting Post-Polio Syndrome and Late Effects of Polio
  • A prior episode of polio confirmed by medical history or obvious polio paralysis
  • Residual motor neuron loss
  • Years of functional stability after the acute illness
  • Gradual or abrupt onset of new weakness
  • Generalised fatigue leading to exhaustion, which may also have psychological effects

Polio Immunisation Statement 

The risk of polio epidemics re-occurring in New Zealand increases while immunisation remains below optimal levels. Polio is only a plane ride away. Are all your family members immunised? If not, the crippling paralysis of polio could once again be a reality. The only prevention is vaccination. Act now with free immunisation.

Polio NZ Inc endorses current immunisation campaigns to protect the population against outbreaks of polio.