Asthma teen’s at­ti­tude and en­ergy win award

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

The last thing asthma suf­ferer Paula Baker-Here­maia ex­pected was to win an award as­so­ci­ated with her con­di­tion.

In fact, the 16-year-old didn’t think much about it when her teach­ers at Auck­land Girls Gram­mar School asked if she wanted to be nom­i­nated for the Asthma and Res­pi­ra­tory Achiev­ers Awards.

But the Auck­land city res­i­dent won the Ran­gatahi sec­tion for Maori teens aged 13 to 18 in Welling­ton last month.

“I didn’t re­ally know much about it, then it started hap­pen­ing and I was so stoked.”

She re­ceived a cer­tifi­cate and tro­phy that were pre­sented to her by Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Anand Saty­nand.

“I found out he lives just down the road from us. The trip was also my first time on a plane.”

Paula says winning the award prob­a­bly has some­thing to do with the work she does at the Auck­land City Mis­sion.

“My dad has a con­tract with a bak­ery to clear the bread,” she says.

“It was go­ing to waste at home, so we de­cided to give it to the mis­sion.

“Ev­ery day af­ter school I de­liver it. It’s good to see it ac­tu­ally go­ing to use.”

While she’s had asthma since child­hood, Paula says the con­di­tion has eased over the last few years, though she al­ways car­ries around an in­haler as a pre­cau­tion.

“When I lived with my nana up north I was al­ler­gic to all the pollen around. It was get­ting pretty bad up there.

“But then I moved down to Auck­land four years ago and it wasn’t as bad.”

Asthma Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Jane Pat­ter­son says Paula is a de­serv­ing win­ner.

“Any­body who makes it to be­come a supreme achiever is pretty spe­cial.

“Her en­ergy lev­els and pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to her chal­lenges are in­spir­ing to us all and we wish her all the best for the fu­ture.”

Photo: SCOTT MOR­GAN

Award win­ner: Asthma suf­ferer Paula Baker-Here­maia won the Ran­gatahi prize at the Asthma and Res­pi­ra­tory Achiev­ers Awards.

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