News & Events

Sparklers: Helping tamariki live brighter

16 June 2017

Canterbury’s had more than its fair share of challenges over the past six and a half years. The impact has also been felt strongly for many young Cantabrians who have lived through the quakes.

Two primary-school aged boys dressed as pirates with eye-patches and moustaches.The Canterbury DHB’s School-Based Mental Health Team (SBMHT) and the Health Promoting Schools staff from Community and Public Health were often being asked for tools to help schools support the anxiety and mental health issues many students were facing.

So they put their heads together with the All Right? campaign to come up with something that would help schools better support the wellbeing of their students. The result is Sparklers – an online wellbeing toolkit full of activities proven to help young people be calmer and ready to learn.

The 36 activities take between 10 minutes and one hour, and cover topics such as tummy breathing, managing worries and kindness.

Sparklers also includes six parenting guides containing information on how parents can support child wellbeing at home, as well as parenting courses and other support available.

All Right? Manager Sue Turner says Sparklers pulls together wellbeing activities that are simple and easy to implement in the classroom and proven to work.

“The activities help young people discover ways to be calmer, more empathic, and more aware of their emotions. Sparklers helps tamariki build positive mental health and cope with life’s challenges by teaching skills that help them to look after their own wellbeing,” says Sue.

Sparklers has been extensively piloted in Canterbury schools and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Pilot participant and teacher Vicki McKenzie used Sparklers with the 116 tamariki (children) and five kaiako (teachers) in her Pegasus Bay School learning community.

“We loved the activities we tried and will continue to use them next term. I tried the My Amazing Brain activity and the tamariki were really engaged and loved learning about their brain and how they have the power to change it!” says Vicki.

Sue Turner says that Sparklers is relevant to tamariki throughout New Zealand. “We think of Sparklers as a kind of gift to the nation. It’s a really positive thing that’s come out of the greater Christchurch earthquakes, and its benefits will extend far beyond Canterbury,” says Sue.

Find out more about the Sparklers online wellbeing tool.

Sparklers has been made possible thanks to funding from the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal Trust and the Canterbury DHB.

Source: Canterbury DHB Well Now (Winter 2017).

Boil water notices still in place for many Kaikoura residents

Last updated: 16th June 2017

People in the Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts are being reminded that boil water notices remain in place at several locations – over six months on from the November 2016 earthquake.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says boil water notices are in place at six water supplies in the Kaikoura District and one in the Hurunui District.

“These warnings remain in place because these supplies are not secure and remain at risk of bacterial contamination. Drinking the water without boiling it first could make you very sick,” says Dr Humphrey.

The boil water notice applies to water used for:

  • drinking,
  • cooking,
  • washing dishes,
  • brushing teeth, and
  • making ice.

People living in or visiting the following areas need to boil their water:

  • Oaro – approximately 400 residents.
  • Fernleigh – approximately  150 residents.
  • Kaikoura Suburban – approximately 25 residents.
  • Peketa – approximately 100 residents. This supply suffered significant damage and is unsafe to drink unless boiled.
  • Kincaid – approximately 120 residents.
  • East Coast Rural – approximately 150 residents.
  • Waiau Town – approximately 250 residents.

Several other rural Hurunui water supplies remain on a permanent boil water notice:

  • Hurunui No 1 Rural water – approximately 680 residents.
  • Kaiwara Rural water – approximately 130 residents.
  • Blythe Rural water – approximately 40 residents.
  • Parnassus Rural water – approximately 210 residents.
  • Waiau Rural water – approximately 500 residents.
  • Peaks Rural water – approximately 85 residents.
  • Lower Waitohi Rural water – approximately 315 residents.

Dr Humphrey is also reminding people to test their own private water supplies quarterly, as well as after heavy rainfall, and following any significant earthquakes.

Other ways to prevent gastro bugs in the Kaikoura region

Kaikoura residents should remain vigilant in preventing gastro bugs, with the risk from damaged water infrastructure still affecting many in the district.

People are also encouraged wash their hands and keep out of any contaminated waterways.

Dr Humphrey says that everyone should always remain vigilant about hand washing too. “It’s important to wash your hands thoroughly to prevent gastro infections such as Norovirus, which can spread quickly across a community.”

Dr Humphrey also warns people to not swim, surf or consume seafood and shellfish collected in the area where Lyell Creek discharges into the ocean.

“Advice from the Kaikoura District Council on the state of wastewater infrastructure indicates people should stay away from the Lyell Creek area until further notice.”

Source: Canterbury District Health Board media releases (8th February, 11th May and 15th June 2017).

Know the signs of stroke: Think FAST

4 June 2017

Around 24 New Zealanders have a stroke each day – about six of those are aged under 65.

A stroke will strike suddenly. Damage will move through the brain fast. But you can help if you know the signs to look for, and think and act fast.

  • FACE – Is their face drooping on one side? Can they smile?
  • ARM  – Is one arm weak? Can they raise both arms?
  • SPEECH  – Is their speech jumbled or slurred? Can they speak at all?
  • TIME – Time is critical. Call 111.

A stroke is always a medical emergency so you should call 111 immediately – rather than your doctor, family and friends, or waiting for it to pass.

FAST: What to look for when a stroke happens.

The FAST campaign is a joint initiative between the Stroke Foundation, Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency.

Find out more about the FAST campaign including how to get FAST resources.


Canterbury GP teams providing care around the clock

31 May 2017

The Canterbury DHB is encouraging people to make their GP team their first call whenever they need health advice with winter on our doorstep.

Medical Officer of Health and part-time GP Dr Alistair Humphrey says people can phone their GP team any time of day or night.

“Even after-hours you can call your usual general practice number. A team of nurses is available to answer your call. The nurses provide free health advice, and if you need to be seen urgently by a doctor, they can tell you what to do and where to go,” says Dr Humphrey.

“If you save your general practice phone number in your mobile phone, that’s the only number you need to access health advice 24/7.”

Dr Humphrey says winter is a really busy time for the Canterbury Health System, with increased rates of illness and greater demand on hospital services.

“It’s always important people access the most appropriate health care. In most cases this is your general practice team, even after-hours. Don’t wait until it’s too late – phone your GP team before things get worse,” says Dr Humphrey.

Phone your GP team any time day or night if you need urgent medical attention. They will advise on the most appropriate place to go to receive the care you need.

Always call 111 for an ambulance if a friend or family member needs life-saving emergency medical attention.

People who are not enrolled with a general practice team are missing out!
Get more information on the benefits of enrolling with a general practice.

Source: Canterbury District Health Board media release (31st May 2017)

Some emergency kits a recipe for disaster

2 May 2017

Example of a homemade emergency survival kit.It could be the little box that saves your life, which is why authorities are warning Kiwis to be wary of pre-made emergency survival kits after our consumer watchdog found some lacking.

Consumer NZ released a report on 28th April 2017 saying that some pre-made survival kits on the market they tested were more of a “recipe for disaster” than life-savers.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says while there are a couple of pre-made emergency kits worth considering, you’re generally better off building your own.

“We put together a grab bag with 3 days’ rations and all the key items you’d need to see you through for $150 – considerably less than you would pay for many of the commercial kits,” Ms Chetwin says.

“It’s also likely you could put together your own kit for less than what we paid as most households are likely to have some of the items, such as a spare backpack or water bottles.”

Example of a getaway kit if you need to leave home or work in a hurry.However, taking the first steps to emergency-preparedness is far more important than compiling the perfect getaway kit, Ms Chetwin said. Your emergency planning should cover where you will meet if you can’t get home and a backup plan if you can’t pick up the kids, as well as:

  • The name and contact details of someone who lives out of town that your family knows to contact in case the phones go down;
  • A list of family and friends who may require your assistance;
  • Plans for if you’re stuck at home, including 3 days’ worth of food and water;
  • Plans for how you’ll stay warm at night and cook food if there’s no power; and
  • Getaway kits if you need to leave in a hurry.


Source: Consumer NZ media release (28th April 2017).

Influenza: Don’t get it, don’t give it

29 March 2017

Around one in four New Zealanders are infected with influenza or ‘flu’ each year. Influenza can be anywhere, and is highly contagious. You many not feel sick at all, but can still pass the flu on to others.

Influenza is more than just a ‘bad cold’ – it is a serious illness that can put anyone in hospital or even kill them, including young and healthy people. Symptoms of influenza include a cough, headache, fever or chills, body aches and pains, fatigue and generally feeling miserable.

It is important you do not pass influenza onto those who are particularly vulnerable to influenza. Pregnant women and their babies can suffer serious consequences as a result of influenza.

Older people and those with certain medical conditions are also more likely to be affected by the flu. This is because influenza can make an existing medical condition worse (including asthma and diabetes), or increase the risk of complications such as pneumonia heart failure, and worsening asthma.

Stay at home from work, school or preschool if you have the flu so that you don’t spread it to others.

Handwashing is an important and effective way of reducing the spread of influenza.

Influenza vaccination is provided FREE for those who need it most

Getting immunised each year as early as possible before winter hits gives the best protection, and protection can last until the next year.

You need to get the flu vaccine each year as your protection lessens over time and the flu strains in the vaccine often change each year. Over a million New Zealanders get the annual immunisation against influenza.

The influenza vaccine is safe, effective and cannot give you “the flu”.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is free to eligible people who meet the following criteria:

  1. Pregnant women – at any stage or trimester in the pregnancy
  2. Anyone under 65 years with one or more of the following medical conditions:
    • Cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease
    • Chronic respiratory diseases
    • Diabetes
    • Cancer, excluding basal and squamous skin cancers if not invasive
    • Other conditions (e.g. chronic renal disease, autoimmune disease, immune suppression, human immunodeficiency virus, transplant recipients, neuromuscular and central nervous systems diseases, haemoglobinopathies, children on long term aspirin)
  3. Anyone aged 65 years or over
  4. Children aged four years and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

Canterbury DHB has also made flu vaccinations free for all under 18 year olds in Kaikoura and Hurunui districts.

You can still get the influenza vaccine from your general practice or local pharmacy for a small cost if you are not eligible for a free vaccine.

Visit the Fight the Flu website for more information.

Page last updated: 23/02/2016

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