Improving the lives and long-term outcomes of people affected by bleeding disorders since 1958

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Promoting excellence in haemophilia 
care, education, advocacy and support.

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2023 HFNZ National family camp: Ngāruawāhia

HFNZ members were welcomed onto Tūrangawaewae maraeOn 11 April nearly 90 people from around the motu gathered in Ngāruawāhia for the 2023 National Family Camp (NFC). This number included 17 whānau, along with leaders, staff, and clinicians. We were also pleased to welcome members of the HFNZ board to this very special event in the HFNZ calendar.

Young families, where a child is newly diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, often need support and information to manage the impact of the disorder on their family. The NFC enables parents to access education in a supportive environment, while their children are enjoying their own recreational programmes. Opportunities are included for families to mix and mingle so that they can establish friendships and develop support networks with other families who understand and live with bleeding disorders.

Usually, the age range for children with bleeding disorders at camp is 0-10. For this camp, the age limit for children was raised to 13 or under. This reflects the impact of Covid on our events and workshops, and that we've been unable to run a National Family Camp since 2019.

Members rolled in through the afternoon of Friday 11 April. It was lovely to see so many smiling faces after such a long wait for this event. Before the camp started, the weather forecast had been a concern. This was borne out on the first evening, when the heavens opened during our first activity: marshmallow toasting on the campfire. Luckily, there was some shelter for s’mores eating, and we headed back to the main hall for introductions and dryness.

Day 2 saw parents head off to the first of their education sessions, while our fabulous youth leaders entertained the children. Special mention must go to Louise Tupou, who ran our crèche. This was a tough job, which Louise and her team did very well.

The education sessions on day 2 started with the traditional parents’ panel, where a group of parents was able to share their BD journeys, and respond to members’ questions. This was followed by a presentation from the Waikato hospital dental team, before haemophilia nurse specialist BJ Ramsay talked about the basics of haemophilia and von Willebrands. In the afternoon Julia Phillips talked about the latest advances in BD treatment.

While all this was happening, the older children built and sailed their own rafts before going kayaking. and the younger group spent time creating animal masks.

Later in the day, we were very privileged to be welcomed onto the Tūrangawaewae marae. This very important marae is the home of Tūheitia Paki, the Māori King. It was very moving to see the historic buildings and taonga, and hear some of the history associated with the marae and the Ngāruawāhia area. This visit really was a highlight.

The day was rounded out by the big HFNZ disco. It was awesome to see kids and parents up dancing to the beats. I’m sure there were some tired bodies afterwards. The guest DJ did a great job, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed the games and fun.

Day 3 started with Deon talking to the parents about the history and future of HFNZ, while the kids learned about the clotting cascade with BJ. Activities and education continued throughout the morning, before the whole group headed off to Hamilton Zoo for the afternoon. This was a fantastic trip, which was enjoyed by all.

After a couple of full days, the final night was movie night for the younger members, while their parents gathered to share and socialise. This was the perfect way to finish a very successful camp, with tired people all around enjoying the chance to just relax.

This event would not have been possible without the support of a wonderful group of leaders. A big thank you must go to Louise, Jessamyn, Evekanya, and Eshka for all their hard work in crèche, along with Benedict, Gabriel, Anna, Nicholas, Brendan, and Victoria for supporting the other children through a range of activities. The energy and enthusiasm this group added to the camp was priceless.

Finally, we’d like to thank Roche, Rātā Foundation, Pub Charities, and Waikato Trust for contributing funding towards this event. Without their support, we would not be able to offer such high quality events and activities to our members.