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Solo kayaker’s journey across Tasman world first for asthma

Solo kayaker’s journey across the Tasman a world first for asthma

On the 19th of April, Scott Donaldson left Coffs Harbour, on a mission to be the first person to kayak across the Tasman Sea alone. Now he’s about to arrive on New Zealand shores. In partnership with Asthma New Zealand, Scott has been raising awareness of the importance of aerobic activity for health.

The journey is spectacular, not only because it is a world first, but also because of Scott’s own health. Both he and four year-old son Zac have asthma, a cause he and his family are passionate about supporting.

Wife Sarah considers it important to promote correct asthma management, as the condition affects approximately 20% of New Zealanders. “Physical exercise is vital for effective asthma management,” she says. “It’s essential for those with asthma, as well as having other benefits such as cardiovascular health”.

Asthma New Zealand is proud to be aligned with the Donaldson’s feat. “We are delighted to have strong New Zealanders supporting and advocating on behalf of people with asthma,” says Executive Director Linda Thompson. “What better way to reaffirm our organisation’s intentions than by joining up with people who are so passionate about our cause?”

Supporting those with asthma runs in the Donaldson family. Scott’s mother Charmaine has been heavily involved with Asthma Waikato, and is now a life member who volunteers teaching asthma education in schools.

Despite the challenges, the Donaldson’s were enthusiastic about aligning themselves with an asthma charity. “It’s been a difficult time for me emotionally,” says Sarah. “In the first two weeks of Scott’s journey, Zac went to hospital twice, due to severe exacerbations of his asthma. While that was frightening, it reaffirmed why we’ve been doing this.”

Aerobic exercise is essential for everyone’s health, but especially for those with asthma. “Asthma symptoms cause the lining of the airways to become inflamed and the muscles to constrict,” explains Asthma New Zealand nurse Ann Wheat. “Being unfit means the lungs have to work harder to get enough oxygen. Aerobic exercise that increases cardio fitness allows the lungs to work more efficiently and makes the whole process easier.”

While fit and healthy himself, Scott’s asthma added another dimension to the trip. Kayaking is hard work, and he’s had to keep an eye on his health throughout. The journey did not come without trepidation; Australian Andrew McAuley disappeared at sea in 2007, while attempting the same feat.

Asthma New Zealand are poised to join locals and family welcoming Scott home, as Executive Director, Linda Thompson and asthma Nurse Educator, and once local Taranaki girl, Karen Little, make the trip down to Taranaki from Auckland in the ‘asthma bus’, Asthma New Zealand’s Mobile Clinic. One on one sessions giving advice and information will be available for anyone in the community – just look for the bright blue van down by the waterfront!

To track exactly when (and where) Scott is due to land, visit


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