For immediate release
Monday 2nd November
Parkinson’s Awareness Week Launched at Parliament
Parkinson’s Awareness Week from 1 to 7 November 2009 was marked by the launch of multilingual pamphlets at Parliament on
‘Korero Mai – Speak to me’ is the theme of this year’s Awareness Week. This initiative will see Parkinson’s New Zealand,
and their 20 divisions across the country, focus on reaching out to families affected by Parkinson’s disease who may
find English-only material a barrier to access to vital information.
‘A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be hard to comprehend and for people who speak little or no English it can be even more
confusing, stressful and alienating,‘ says the National Director of Parkinson’s New Zealand, Deirdre O’Sullivan.
In addition to the English and Te Reo Māori versions, An Introduction to Parkinson’s, which describes Parkinson’s
disease symptoms, treatments and related services, will be available in Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Samoan, Spanish, Tongan,
traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
According to the 2006 census, 2.2 percent of New Zealand’s population, or 88,000 people, cannot maintain an everyday
conversation in English, and over 671,000 people in New Zealand speak two or more languages.
The launch was hosted by Associate Minister of Health, Hon. Peter Dunne, and was attended by Ministers, cultural
representatives, community leaders, health providers and people with Parkinson's and their families.
Parkinson’s New Zealand is proud to work towards being more accessible to all New Zealanders affected by Parkinson’s, as
Parkinson’s does not discriminate – it can affect anyone of any age and ethnicity.
• One in every 500 New Zealanders has Parkinson’s – around 9,000 people.
• Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that occurs when insufficient quantities of the chemical dopamine
are produced by the brain
• People with Parkinson’s tend not to refer to themselves as ‘sufferers’, opting for a more positive ‘people affected by
• The main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
o Tremor (shaking)
o Stiffness and rigidity
o Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
• Other symptoms can include changes in mood and anxiety, poor balance and altered speech
• A large number of people with Parkinson’s are aged over 65, however the average age of diagnosis is 59, and many New
Zealanders are diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s in their thirties and forties.
• Parkinson’s New Zealand is a national not-for-profit with 20 divisions throughout the country and 35 Field Officers
who work with people with Parkinson’s as part of multi-disciplinary team