Community repaying generosity
Even after a quadruple bypass, Mark Kairua can’t keep the smile off his face.
The 43- year- old from Ascot Park, Porirua, has had a dreadful year, suffering a heart attack just months after losing his job.
But his ever-present cheer and generous community involvement made him well-loved in Porirua, and the community rallied to help his family in their time of need.
After word got out on Facebook that Kairua was awaiting heart surgery, friends set up an appeal that has raised more than $3000. Kairua’s wife, Clair, has also been flooded with cooked meals and vouchers for petrol and groceries.
That generosity meant the family could pay its mortgage and bills for another month, she said. ‘‘It’s been awesome, but a little bit embarrassing.’’
Kairua was amazed by the response. ‘‘I don’t know what I did to deserve all of that.’’
The father-of-three taught kapa haka at a local school, tutored Cook Islands Maori, chaired the Wellington tag football committee, helped needy teenagers prepare for their learner driver licences, and ran a late-night weekly Cook Islands radio show.
Until February he had worked as Porirua City Council’s road safety co-ordinator. That job was disestablished when funding was cut by NZ Transport Agency.
Kairua had a new job in traffic management and was gearing up to begin paid work as a Pacific Island school mentor when his heart gave out. He had not been employed long enough to have enough sick or annual leave.
Kairua had risen before work at 5.30am on May 22, and was on his exercycle when he felt pain between his shoulder blades and tasted metal on his tongue.
By 7am he was on the phone to 111, kneeling on the floor and struggling to breathe.
Five days later he had six hours of surgery.
Kairua blamed his attack on his Cook Islands genes – heart problems ran in both sides of his family.
Heartwarming: Porirua man Mark Kairua with his family, from left, Grace, 7, wife Clair, Sophia, 5, and Alex, 2.