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Precious memories captured

The late Cherie Dette and her daughter Dyami Kirwan who was visiting from Australia. PHOTO/JUDY WAGG

Emily Ireland

Every moment counts when a loved one is terminally ill.

And capturing those moments forever is just one of Hospice Wairarapa’s many gifts to their patients’ families.

Hospice Wairarapa’s Precious Memories programme pairs terminally-ill patients with volunteer photographers to create a digital memory, leaving a special bereavement legacy.

One of their photoshoots captured the mother-daughter bond between Masterton patient Cherie Dette and her daughter Dyami Kirwan who was visiting from Australia.

Cherie lost her cancer battle on June 30 last year, aged 46.

In an interview last year, Cherie said she wished she had found hospice sooner.

Hospice provided her with yoga sessions, help with her garden, massages, window cleaning, and the photography session with her daughter.

Cherie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.

In early 2015 Cherie was told the cancer had spread to both of her lungs and was super aggressive and fast-growing – doctors said it was inoperable.

Suzie Adamson general manager Hospice Wairarapa said Cherie was an “incredible woman” and that it was a pleasure to have been able to capture her legacy through Precious Memories.

“It’s about giving the patients we work with the opportunity to create a legacy,” Suzie said.

“We’ve done a birthday party for a one-year-old and sadly that was his first and only birthday party.

“We’ve done an 80-year-old’s birthday party at Copthorne, we’ve done beautiful photoshoots at the park, at people’s places, we’ve done a video for a gentleman who was too ill to travel to England for his son’s wedding, and that video was played at the wedding ceremony.

“It’s about giving the family something in bereavement to remember.”

Suzie said people were not very good at talking about death and dying.

“The irony is hospice is not about death and dying – it’s about living every moment.

“Precious Memories gives families the chance to live that moment forever.”

The two volunteer photographers that work with Wairarapa Hospice are Judy Wagg and Paul Adamson.

Suzie recalled one family Judy worked with who had eight children.

“Our photographer said to the husband and wife – I want you to put your arms around your wife and give her a kiss.

“The kids went, oh yuck why would you want to do that.

“Later on, Judy said it was because, when your partner goes, I want you to look at that photo and remember what it felt like when he looked at you and hugged you and kissed you.

“That’s what happens with Precious Memories.

“It’s so humbling that people trust you with this part of their journey.

“People are incredibly strong.

“It’s not often we get a patient that is really struggling.

“They come to accept what’s there and together, we support them to make every moment count.”

Precious Memories was the recipient of a Canon community grant where they received $4000 worth of Canon equipment and $1000 cash.

The cash component is being used to print and frame images to give to families.

Street Appeal

This week is Hospice Awareness week.

An annual street appeal will be held on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18.

There will be volunteer collectors stationed at key spots (railways stations, supermarkets, prime street locations) in Masterton, Greytown, Carterton, Featherston and Martinborough each day.

House of Travel and the Hospice Shop will be holding fundraising sausage sizzles outside their stores on the Friday, and Mitre 10 MEGA will be having one on Saturday.

EFTPOS will be available at New World Masterton but otherwise Hospice Wairarapa encourages people to go to town with “pockets full of change and hearts full of generosity”.

All proceeds are returned directly to Hospice Wairarapa to ensure it can continue to offer its suite of services free of charge to all those on a palliative journey in our community.

Palliative care

There are nine care facilities in Wairarapa which provide care for people who are near the end of their life and their families/whanau.

They are contracted and funded by the DHB.

All the facilities included in the table below are certified by the Ministry of Health to provide long term hospital and medical care.

They have registered nurses on duty 24/7.

At least one registered nurse on every shift has received specific training in palliative care and they have professional support from specialist nurses, specialist GPs and Te Omanga specialists.

Support workers also receive training in palliative care.

Some facilities also have nurse managers with specialist hospice experience and expertise.

These care facilities are: Wharekaka in Martinborough, Arbor House in Greytown, Carter Court in Carterton, Roseneath Lifecare in Carterton, Glenwood Masonic in Masterton, Wairarapa Village in Masterton, Kandahar Home in Masterton, Lansdowne Court in Masterton, and Lansdowne Park in Masterton.

Metlifecare ceased operating in Wairarapa in August 2016 and this facility has since been owned and managed by Wairarapa Village Ltd.

The nurse manager there also has hospice experience.

This is the second in a 10-part Midweek series bringing awareness to the community about Hospice Wairarapa in an effort to increase support for the charity.

Next week: Out & About club


  1. I’m Cherie Dettes mother, Yvonne Dette. I miss her so much it hurts. Just wanted to say this. RIP My Lovely.

  2. Wow. I will turn 46 on the 30th of June this year. I am part of Crescendo Cuisine that caters for Win a Wedding Wairarapa. We are so humbled to be a part of an incredible team of providers that can do a little to help.

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