2012 Auckland


 2012 UPBEAT Weekend Waipuna Hotel, Auckland

The UPBEAT National Weekend was held 23-25 March at the Waipuna Hotel in Auckland. Forty-four early onset people and 26 carers attended. Members from the upper North Island were well represented but some New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, and Christchurch members made it as well.

The conference began on Friday afternoon with a presentation by Christchurch physTara Martiniotherapist Tara Martin (right) on a new Parkinson’s physical therapy programme called LSVT BIG, which has been attracting good reviews overseas. Based on the LSVT (voice therapy) programme, LSVT-BIG is designed to have patients overcome their movement difficulties by learning to override their compromised motor control systems. This is achieved through an intensive month-long exercise regime that instils the conscious ability to make big movements.

Saturday and Sunday morning sessions began with a group Tai Chi session led by UPBEAT member and Tai Chi instructor Oscar Getreur.

The weekend ended with a presentation by Helen Spence from the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust and her dog Chance. Helen said mobility dogs can help people with Parkinson’s by stabilising balance, helping people walk at a normal rate, breaking a “freeze”, and providing bracing support or fetching help in the event of a fall. Mobility dogs can be trained to provide functional assistance with everyday tasks such as retrieving dropped items, pressing pedestrian and lift buttons, and switching lights on and off. Chance demonstrated the intriguing ability to pick up a dropped credit card.

Highlights? One of the recognised highlights of the weekend was an impromptu performance by Brian and Gailene Hewlett from Kerikeri describing their experience of Brian’s Deep Brain Stimulation operation. When he managed to get a word in edgewise, Brian said the therapy had been “simply amazing” and had turned him back into a golfer.

For many though, the highlight of the weekend was Dr Barry Snow’s address (see below), which covered the latest treatments and developments in the treatment of Parkinson’s. His talk was widely appreciated for its clarity and relevance.

Highlights aside, many people said what they really appreciated about the weekend was the opportunity to spend time in relaxing surroundings amongst people who “understood”.

“It was such a pleasure to be here, just to be able to sit and eat and talk and not have to do anything else.”
“It was lovely to be around people that understand. For most of the days of our life there is nobody.”

The conference was specifically arranged to suit the needs of people with Parkinson’s. Good breaks between sessions allowed members to eat, drink, and converse in a leisurely fashion or simply rest. In these intervals, good use was made of the Wii games consuls to try their hand at golf, skiing or one of the other sports available.

Presentation reports

Keynote address:  Medication: Treatments and Developments

Barry Snow (right), Neurologist, discussed latest treatments and developments in the treatment of Parkinson’s

A lightly-edited transcript of the talk is also available as a PDF,and e-book.


Goal Setting: It’s the journey, not the destination

John Parsons from the School of Nursing, Auckland University presented on shifting and setting new goals


 Insurance: It can be a nightmare – be prepared

 UPBEAT members Andrew Johnson and Nikki Matthews (left) discussed the importance of different types of insurance for people with Parkinson’s and their partners and shared some tips on dealing with insurance companies.




Workshops (split groups People with Parkinson's and Partners/Carers/Family)

Workshop on cognitive decline facilitated by Lea-Anne Morgan, Clinical Lead, Parkinson’s New Zealand

Workshop with Laurie Hilsgin from Carers New Zealand


Gadgets, Technology & the Internet

UPBEAT members Andrew Johnson and Nicki Matthews presented on gadgets and internet sources they find useful.

Click here for a copy of the Programme.

Parkinson’s New Zealand wishes to thank the Oxford Sports Trust for their generous support for the event.