Every Tuesday morning at 10.30am the main hall of the Pacific Island Church on Daniel Street, Newtown, will be awash with a number of swaying bodies moving to Pacific beats. This is the Pacific Island Exercise group, and it celebrates 17 years this year.
The Co-ordinator, Lafulafu – is the “queen” of the group, she greets and hugs everyone. Next they record their gold coin in a logbook. This must be the best deal in town? The day starts off with one hour of exercise encouraged by Kathy McConville, a registered physiotherapist. The group follows Kathy (who makes it look so effortless), she is up on the stage to demonstrate – there are swaying arms, twisting, squats (don’t go too low!) and stretch bands and hand weights follow. Marching and clapping is also part of the “routine”.
The ladies, and they are mostly ladies, gently perspire, but everyone is smiling, laughing and having a lovely time. They wear a uniform of yellow t-shirts and black trousers or skirts. The colours support their Wellington rugby team. Many have flowers in their hair. At 11.45am it is time for lunch – and following the theme of healthy living, the day I visited it was home-made chicken soup, with vegetables.
There is a roster of cooks who each week prepare the healthy and nutritious meal, and often afterwards is a talk by a health professional, which covers issues affecting members – such as gout, diabetes, or heart disease as well as Wellington City Council rebate refunds, Gold Card, insulation etc.
Talking to Lafulafu afterwards, she said that the weekly session was key to their good mental and physical wellbeing. It’s so important to have a purpose, members had a reason to get up in the morning, moving to get showered, get dressed and travel (some by bus!) to get there! Hugs all around as they wave each other goodbye, see you next week! I think I would describe the morning as “joyous”. It was a real delight to see.
Age Concern Wellington assists with the funding of this group.
Community Support Co Ordinator