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Positive Ageing chair has clear vision for group

Positive Ageing chair has clear vision for group

Russell Hallam and Jos Pemberton

Newly-elected Positive Ageing Rotorua chairman, Russell Hallam, says older people have plenty to offer working alongside the Rotorua Lakes Council to meet the aspirations of the wider community.

He has a clear vision for the newly formed group which has been established as part of the council’s People Portfolio to advocate for the district’s older population.

“The vision is for Rotorua to become a model age-friendly district. I’m convinced that older people in our community have a lot to offer in helping to achieve Rotorua 2030 goals and taking the district forward,” Mr Hallam says.

A resident of Rotorua since 1989, Mr Hallam was a teacher for more than two decades including more than 12 years as principal at Kea Street Specialist School before retiring.

He has been involved in community groups at local, regional and national levels and is currently vice president of Grey Power in Rotorua, chairman of the Rotorua branch of NZ Superannuitants and a volunteer with the Cancer Society.

Mr Hallam has been advocating for a better voice for older residents at council level for some time and is pleased a group has been formed to have input into council decision-making.

“We have an increasing number of older people who have a valuable contribution to make in the planning and development of council programmes, not just in addressing other older people’s needs, concerns and interests but those of the whole community as well.

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“We’re concerned about the same types of issues as, for instance, families who have children with disabilities.”

Mr Hallam says he is looking forward to working alongside the council and representing Rotorua’s older people.

“While we won’t always agree amongst ourselves, or with council, I’m very confident we will develop the ways and means to advocate for those whose interests we’re charged with representing. As individuals we are already having conversations out in the community and getting feedback, and we will be using our networks to keep people informed.

In addition to Mr Hallam, the Positive Ageing Rotorua group also includes vice-chairperson Jos Pemberton, Cheryl Campbell, Wendy Roe, Miriam Ruberl, Mary Ann Nixon, Edie Vercoe, Barrie Fenton, Lynnette Whata, and Melvyn Bowen.

Mrs Pemberton moved to Rotorua from Tauranga over two years ago, married a local and joined the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce. While she had been involved with Rotorua in the past as chairperson of both Netball Bay of Plenty and the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic franchise, she said she learned more about the community by working at the Chamber.

“When the opportunity arose to be part of the Positive Ageing Group, I knew it was one way for me to contribute and give back to the community. The fast-growing ageing community in Rotorua is as diverse as every other group - with not every older person having retired from the workforce and ready to be put out to pasture.

“Like all sectors of the community we have broad and diverse issues to be considered. We are full and part-time employed, business owners, retirees, caregivers of grandchildren or family members with ill health, home owners, residents of retirement villages and pensioner flats, and so much more. In fact we are the same as every other group, but perhaps with more grey hair and wrinkles – but certainly with a great deal of wisdom and experience to offer.”

Mrs Pemberton said the Positive Ageing Rotorua committee has an excellent range of people covering different sectors of its age group.

Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, who leads the council’s People Portfolio, says Positive Ageing Rotorua will be a valuable resource for council but it would not be the only way the council will engage and consult with the district’s older population. Input will also be sought from other groups representing older people she said.

“This group provides a direct way for input to be made into council decision-making and access to a wide network. I’m looking forward to working with them.

“While the members were not selected as representatives of particular organisations, they are involved in other organisations and will provide links and help us when we need to engage across the sector.

“What we wanted for Positive Ageing Rotorua was a group of people who could advocate for older people in general, rather than for any particular organisations they were involved with.

Terms of reference for the group were developed from a series of community meetings with seniors in the 50 plus age group over several months, and were agreed to by those who having input. Applications were invited for positions on Positive Ageing Rotorua and there were 27 applicants from which 10 people were selected to form the first Positive Ageing Rotorua. The group will meet monthly.


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