Glass half full Reuben

Wed 24 May 2017

NEWS_Reuben80-year-old Pacific Homecare client Reuben Ngata is a proud east coast man of Ngati Porou descent. Diagnosed with Polio in 1961, his life unexpectedly changed. Never one to refuse a challenge, Reuben made the most of the situation living his life to the fullest. We share his story

Born in the rural town of Tikitiki and raised on a farm in Kakariki, Reuben attended school at Waiomatatini Maori School and Ngata Memorial College in Ruatoria.

Going to work at age 16, Reuben tried his hand at many physical jobs, working as a labourer doing fencing, scrub cutting, splitting posts and more. He then joined the New Zealand Army at age 18.

Three years later he re-joined the family farm, going on to run it for his parents.

But, tragedy struck in 1961 when he was diagnosed with Poliomyelitis (more commonly known as polio).

The World Health Organisation states the highly infectious virus multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis, which can be permanent.

The diagnosis was a shock for Reuben, who up to then had loved his active life, playing sport and working in physical jobs.

Re-evaluating his situation, he took the opportunity to learn shoe making skills from a family member that offered to teach him. Reuben thrived in his trade, becoming a specialist surgical shoe maker.

Not letting his polio stop him from being active, Reuben also became involved with weightlifting and travelled the world competing in countries including Israel, England, Scotland and Canada. He won multiple medals while competing, and says a highlight was representing New Zealand as a Paralympian at the Commonwealth Games.

Along the way his family grew, and he is happily married with three children, five grandchildren, two great grandchildren and another on the way.

After working in the shoe making field for 33 years, he retired in Auckland where he resides now.

His home is his pride, and Reuben loves to work on his house, section and gardens.

More recently, Reuben started to have trouble with his shoulder, making it harder for him to do things around his house.

While recovering from his injury in hospital, he was referred to Pacific Homecare and now receives personal care services from his Support Worker.

He says he loves the staff at Pacific Homecare, including his regular Support Workers and relievers. He also regularly enjoys coming to the office to catch up and have a great time with the friendly staff.

“Reuben is very cheerful and vibrant. He is a client who loves to pop in and make himself known to the staff and loves to interact with everyone,” says his Service Coordinator.

“He is also very understanding of the challenges the office sometimes faces with having to send relievers in unexpected situations and Reuben makes those workers feel very welcome in his home.”

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