Asthma teen’s attitude and energy win award
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.”
Award winner: Asthma sufferer Paula Baker-Heremaia won the Rangatahi prize at the Asthma and Respiratory Achievers Awards.