Tai Chi anniversary
The Matamata Taoist Tai Chi Society is nearing a major milestone and past members are invited to help mark the occasion.
Started in 1993 by locals Nellie Joe and Nan Christophers, the Matamata society will reach 20 years in April.
Celebrations will include a Taoist workshop with experienced instructors, followed by a five-course banquet on April 11.
Member Jill Fletcher said the society would like to see past and present members come together for the day.
‘‘It would be great for some of the past members to come and share their experiences and stories,’’ she said.
Taoist Tai Chi was created in Toronto, Canada, in 1970 by Master Moy Lin-Shin and came to New Zealand in 1990.
Nellie Joe first started practising Tai Chi at home after her son Dr Steven Joe suggested it could help with her osteoporosis.
‘‘He said to me, ‘Mum if you don’t do something about it you’re going to end up in a wheelchair.’
‘‘So he started doing Tai Chi with me. He used to come over every night to make sure I was doing it.’’
Health benefits of Tai Chi can include improved circulation, balance and posture; increased strength and flexibility; and reduced stress. It can be particularly helpful to the elderly.
With regular practice it is even thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and depression.
In 1993 a Tai Chi group from Tauranga came to Matamata to give a demonstration and classes started soon after.
Several Tauranga instructors would travel to Matamata each week to teach interested beginners the art of Taoist Tai Chi.
This involved learning the sequence of 108 moves known as The Set.
After two years, Nellie Joe qualified as an instructor and she continued to teach Tai Chi in Matamata for 15 years.
The society maintained a steady membership of 40 to 50 and today has 45 members, many of whom are well into their eighties.
President Ross Sainsbury said Taoist Tai Chi was learnt through repetition and the society had a class for beginners on Monday evenings.
They also had two practice classes on Tuesday and Friday mornings and a continuing class, for more experienced members, on Wednesday evenings.
‘‘It’s a very gentle form of exercise ... involves a lot of stretching,’’ he said.
Anyone interested in learning Tai Chi or attending the celebration banquet can contact Jill Fletcher on 880 9310.
Flashback: An article published in the Matamata Chronicle in 1994 celebrating the Matamata Taoist Tai Chi Society’s first anniversary.