Body, Mind and Soul Retreat

Held at Houchen House, Hamilton

Thursday 6th to 9th August  2015

The Retreat was a magnificent success.  Board Member Sue Griffin and helpers delivered a pampering package nicely mixing, soothing and stimulating and with plenty of opportunity for conviviality.   Hamilton’s Houchen House provided affordable and accessible accommodation while the catering team ensured wonderful food was always on offer.  Feedback from the 35 attendees was overwhelmingly positive and Sue has been so exhilarated by the experience she’s prepared to lead another next year as team leader.   She says:  “It was the attendees that made it so successful.  I feel everyone enjoyed themselves and I think it has made a step toward encouraging the smaller Support Groups that were represented.  Personally, I now know more people after the retreat than I have managed to meet at the last three conferences.  Some good suggestions were made for next time. Later in the year, I will be asking for suggestions for another retreat, no matter how audacious they (suggestions) may seem.”

Retreat presentations and activities were many and varied.  Examples included being treated to an inspirational talk by Barry de Geest, whose ‘brave little thalidomide boy’ media coverage matched the interest taken in the little polio battlers of our childhood.   Barry has never taken life lying down.  He makes customised wheelchairs and demonstrated his own heavily engineered hoist which ensures he can look the world in the eye!  Community Pharmacist Helen Morton’s presentation contained information essential for any pharmaceutical user and was voted the most interesting, followed by Jill Illingworth on pain relief and ‘tapping’ (EFT).   Helen Skedgwell from the Public Trust established that we were well above average when it comes to having wills and powers of attorney and Grant Pearse made some fine points in his discussion and demonstration of acupuncture.

At dinner one night we were serenaded by the Hamilton Male Voice Choir and the next by Cushla McCreesh who inspired her audience to enthusiastic participation.  Polio Australia was represented by President Dr John Tierney and their National Program Manager Mary-Ann Liethof.  Both spoke persuasively of past and planned events especially the 2016 International Conference, ‘Polio: Life Stage Matters’ to be held in Sydney.  Disability equipment provider Life Unlimited brought along the latest in folding electric wheelchairs and other gadgetry.  There was bonsai gardening for people with mobility restrictions and an introduction to the mysteries of Facebook.  Early risers could attend tai chi or meditate at the Houchen House labyrinth.  Julie Hancox talked about her work with Assistance Dogs and shoe repairer and retailers Merv and Toni Arnesen attracted attention with their demonstration of Korkers sandals.  

NZ First MP Barbara Stewart gave a sympathetic presentation and suggested that a petition to the Health Select Committee relating to polio survivors circumstances in New Zealand might be something the Board could consider.  Barbara along with Green MP Catherine Delahunty, will be co-hosting the 6pm Polio Day reception at Parliament on 20 October.   

This has been but a selection of presentations from the packed four day Retreat.  The feedback was such that this pilot in whatever form, will be repeated again perhaps in a location near you.

(With thanks to Newsletter Editor Rosemarie Smith)


Honouring our Pioneers

  Phillipa Morrison became aware that polio survivors were experiencing changes in their condition which their physicians couldn’t explain. In 1987 she and 13 others attended a polio conference in St Louis.

 Napier 1989

 Joan, Mary, Pam, Patsy and Yvonne with polio people in Napier 1989

  As a result of that trip polios banded together and quietly formed support groups. The seeds of a support organisation were planted. GPs didn’t have anything to offer to the many polios presenting at their clinics. Polios began to share their experiences as they identified with what Americans call Post Polio Syndrome.

   In 1989 a constitution was drawn up and the Post Polio Support Society of NZ was incorporated, with Phillipa Morrison as the first President. In 1992 Denis Hogan became President with further developments to “the Society” during his 6 years of leadership. The Polio Logo came from a design by Gina Phipps and was introduced in 1997 and appeared on stationery and at the top of Polio News.

Masterton 1990 
Pam Owers, Patsy Bell, Joan Radburn and Denis Hogan en route to the 2nd Conference in Masterton in 1990

   Ray Wilson followed as president from 1998 to 2007, and he consolidated and advanced the Society. Ray and Dr Liz Falkner and others tirelessly lobbied for a Centre of Excellence for the treatment of PPS. They were thwarted at every turn. Medical specialist and the Government Health Department were very reluctant to recognise the unique situations polio survivors faced. Dr Liz did however negotiate with Dr Petrie to begin the 2-week treatment courses for polios in 1992 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (later QE Health).
  These are only some of our early pioneers and their achievements. They passed the baton on to others as the decades proceeded. Their vision and effort provided a platform to support the needs of people and their families and health professionals.
  In recent times, Polio News changed to a folded magazine with colour centrefold in 2011, a comprehensive website emerged, the 0800 enquiry line is a vital link with the public, and a name change to Polio NZ Inc in 2012 brought our Society into the modern era.
We now have the challenge of how to take Polio NZ into the future. Most GPs still don’t understand the growing needs of people living with polio, and there are increasing problems with inadequate orthotic provision.
  As polios get older it is imperative that we don’t give up and say “what’s the use of trying” to improve the quality of life. This is our challenge.

QE Health Update

For details about the latest Polio services from QE Health, read this report from Edith Morris here


Polio NZ Incorporated Notice of Special General Meeting

To all Current Financial Members

Notice is hereby given of a Special General Meeting (SGM) of Polio NZ Incorporated being held at Houchen House, 83 Houchens Road, Glenview, Hamilton at 1.30 am on Monday 21 September 2015. The Special General Meeting is being called by the Board for the purpose of considering a Special Resolution. No other business may be transacted at such a Special General Meeting.

The preliminary SGM agenda is:  THAT the time period for holding the Annual General Meeting of Polio NZ Inc. be extended by one month by amending Clause 22.2 of the Constitution to omit the words “30 September” and inserting the words “31 October”.

(For additional information please refer to Polio NZ Inc.’s Facebook page or the August 2015 Newsletter Supplement)

Celebrating World Polio Day

Polio NZ Board Members and Members of the Society are invited to mark World Polio Day early this year.   Nibbles and drinks will be available at Parliament 6 p.m, Tuesday 20th October.  This early evening event will involve little or no cost to Polio NZ members and will involve Rotary and Polio NZ speeches and an opportunity to chat with the Members of Parliament that are able to attend.

If you would like to attend, your details will be required for Parliamentary Security checks.  Please contact the Secretary no later than 14th October at or by phoning 0800 4 POLIO or 0800 476 546.


Polio NZ Incorporated Notice of Annual General Meeting

To all Current Financial Members

Notice is hereby given of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Polio NZ Incorporated being held at 9.30 a.m on Wednesday 21st October at the Thorndon Hotel (formally the Kingsgate Hotel), 24 Hawkstone Street, Thorndon, Wellington. 

(Please note that a mail out to financial Members identifying business to be conducted and associated papers, will occur prior to the end of September)


2016 Australasia-Pacific Post-Polio Conference

‘Polio:  Life Stage Matters’

This conference is being hosted by Polio Australia in Sydney, 20 – 22 September 2016.  The Steering Committee has engaged an exciting line up of presenters who will be bringing the latest late effects of polio management information from around the world.  

For all the information you will need in deciding if this conference is for you, please follow this link:


World Polio Day

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.

Since commencing in the role as President, Barry has overseen considerable progress inspired by the input of Members into Polio NZ Inc.’s Strategic Plan.  During the 2014 Christchurch Conference, workshops highlighted the areas of development Members felt strongly about.  In February the Board gathered in New Plymouth to pull these ideas into a framework for action.  One such development was the highly successful Mind Body and Soul Retreat held in August in Hamilton.  Based on an a model regularly run by the Polio Australia, Board Member Sue Griffin developed a comprehensive and well received 4 day pilot program which it is hoped will inspire further retreats in the future.  Work toward a Centre of Excellence for the holistic assessment and planning needs of polio survivors is also continuing at a pace as are other plans for increased publicity particularly as World Polio Day and the Annual General Meeting approach in October.  

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.

Barry looks forward to welcoming Polio NZ Members to the upcoming Annual General Meeting to be held this year in Wellington on the 21 October and encourages personal contact from anyone with ideas on how the Board can be of increased service.


There have been recent up-dates to this website which will be of interest to you, so please take the time to look through the various pages from the menu on the left.

  • The new AV Resources includes an array of video and sound recordings which you may find helpful to view on line.
  • Take a look at the variety of items on Resources for Polios, or read the latest newsletter here.

* The Duncan Fund has been a source of help to many members, for equipment, modifications and items that are not covered by normal funding services. Applications can be made to the Society by e-mail or post. More 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.