200 years closer to a cure for Parkinson's

Press release
Parkinson’s New Zealand
11 April 2017

200 years closer to a cure for Parkinson’s 

It’s been 200 years since English physician James Parkinson first described the condition named after him in "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy". Since 1817, major advances have been made in Parkinson’s research, including the development of various medications and other therapies to treat the symptoms of this devastating condition. And yet we still do not know precisely what causes Parkinson’s, and there is no cure.

For the 200th anniversary of World Parkinson’s Day on 11 April, Parkinson’s New Zealand will lead the international Parkinson’s community to #UniteForParkinsons. This global campaign aims to increase awareness of Parkinson’s, show support for those living with the condition and to inspire new research and treatment initiatives. 

New Zealand will be among the first countries in the world to recognise World Parkinson's Day on 11 April and we encourage you make social media posts with the #UniteForParkinsons hashtag.

“People living with Parkinson’s and their families cannot wait another 200 years for a cure,” says Deirdre O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s New Zealand.

“Research into this complex and life-altering condition is progressing and we must keep up the momentum for a cure. I encourage everyone to use the hashtag #UniteForParkinsons on 11 April to show your support for those affected by Parkinson’s and for those searching for a cure.”

The #UniteForParkinsons campaign aims to raise awareness by using social media, local events and activities in our community. On the Parkinson’s New Zealand website and social media you will find details on how you can actively support the campaign –by attending and supporting events—as well as using your social media to spread the message that 200 years without a cure is too long.

With 13,000 people in New Zealand living with Parkinson’s, the aim is to represent as many people as possible. So please join us—donate and come along to World Parkinson’s Day events in your region of New Zealand and invite others to join us too –as we #UniteForParkinsons. 

#UniteForParkinsons World Parkinson’s Day events:

  • Parkinson’s Auckland hosts a free public seminar “World Parkinson’s Day” with Neurologist Dr Jon Simcock and neurological physiotherapist Gilly Davy on Tuesday 11 April at 1:00pm in the Greenlane Christian Centre, 17 Marewa Road, Greenlane. Contact Bev on 09 278-6918.
  • Parkinson’s Kapiti Horowhenua  sells tulip bulbs on Tuesday 11 April from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at Waikanae Countdown and New World Paraparaumu. Contact Rachel for details on 04 293-6927.
  • Parkinson’s Bay of Plenty hosts a public “Non Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s” seminar with Speech and Language Therapist Robin Matthews and Nurse Practitioner Tony Lawson on Tuesday 11 April at 1:30pm in the Senior Citizens Rooms, Maitland Street, Greerton. Contact Mary on (027) 468 0433
  • Parkinson’s Central Plateau holds a street appeal on Tuesday 11 April in Rotorua. 
  • Parkinson’s Hawke’s Bay holds an appeal on Tuesday 11 April at Hawke’s Bay Airport.
  • Parkinson's South Canterbury will host a fundraising breakfast on Tuesday 11 April at The Village Cafe, Highfield Mall from 7:30am to 10:30am. Contact Kay on 03 688 6849
  • This year Parkinson’s Waikato will watch a movie on Wednesday 12 April at 11:00am at the Tivoli Cinema, 32 Lake Street, Cambridge. Contact Anne on  027 244 4123 or Janine  on 027 255 5123

There will be other events and activities around New Zealand throughout 2017 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of James Parkinson’s famous essay.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It is caused by insufficient quantities of dopamine - a chemical in the brain. Dopamine enables quick, well-coordinated movement. When dopamine levels fall, movements become slow and awkward. Parkinson’s has both motor and non-motor symptoms, and while it cannot be cured it can be treated.


For media enquiries: Julianne Ryan, Communications Coordinator, 0210703308 


Notes for the editor

About Parkinson’s

  • One in every 500 New Zealanders has Parkinson’s – around 13,000 people.
  • People with Parkinson’s tend not to refer to themselves as ‘sufferers’, opting for a more positive ‘people living with Parkinson’s’.
  • Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that occurs when insufficient quantities of the chemical dopamine are produced by the brain
  • A large number of people with Parkinson’s are aged over 65, however the average age of diagnosis is 59, and many New Zealanders are diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s in their thirties and forties.
  • The main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
  • Tremor (shaking)
  • Stiffness and rigidity
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Other symptoms can include changes in mood and anxiety, poor balance and altered speech

About Parkinson’s New Zealand

  • Parkinson’s New Zealand is a national not-for-profit with 20 divisions and branches throughout the country and 32 Community Educators who work with people with Parkinson’s as part of multi-disciplinary teams
  • Contact details for Parkinson’s Community Educators are available on www.parkinsons.org.nz or by phoning 04 801 8850 or 0800 473 463. 
  • Parkinson’s New Zealand is a community based, non-profit organisation, registered with the Charities Commission and reliant on funding from grants, bequests and donations.