South Wairarapa locals are putting on their “glad rags” and hitting the dance floor to support a much-needed community health service.
Later this month, Kuranui College will play host to the Great South Wairarapa Ball – with all proceeds from the formal event going towards the new Pirinoa Medical Clinic.
The health centre, now running out of the old dental clinic at Pirinoa School, provides wrap-around care for South Wairarapa’s rural community, which was previously struggling to access both medical and social services.
The clinic, founded by a team of local health professionals, including nurse practitioner Corina Ngatai, does not yet receive government funding and has been reliant on community donations.
The upcoming Great South Wairarapa Ball was the brainchild of Kuranui College teacher Elizabeth Verkleij, who became inspired after chatting with clinic co-founder Ngatai – also a part-time nurse at Kuranui’s health centre – over morning tea.
This is the second charity ball Verkleij has organised in Wairarapa, with last year’s Great Eketāhuna Ball raising funds for the Eketāhuna Community Health Centre.
She said it was a “no-brainer” to do the same for Ngatai and the Pirinoa Medical Clinic.
“Corina is doing some very cool mahi in our community,” Verkleij said.
“Our rural health care needs all the help it can get. A lot of people in South Wairarapa were really struggling – some people were having to drive about an hour to Featherston for a doctor’s appointment.
“Health care is a human right – and Corina is doing the work to make it accessible to our rural families.
“The ball will be a chance for people to put on their glad rags, enjoy some sparkle and glamour, and support this important service.”
Ngatai said it was important to “reduce barriers” to rural healthcare, especially considering petrol prices and the increasing cost of living.
“It’s about people’s time, too. Patients were having to take the day off for a 15 minute appointment with their GP,” she said.
“[The clinic] is much more beneficial – they can just whip down to Pirinoa and see a doctor without it eating into their whole day.”
The clinic is now staffed by a team from Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa, and patient numbers are steadily growing.
The Great South Wairarapa Ball, held on November 26 from 6.30pm, will feature music from Martinborough-based band Short Circuit, a catered supper, and a cash bar.
Tickets are available from Kuranui College and Pirinoa School – $50 for singles, $80 for two people. Cash sales are preferred. Entry is R18.