Taking Charge of Your Health

My name is Michelle Onekawa and I’m going to tell you
a bit about myself and my life. In 2000 I did a Bachelor of Arts at Massey University which took a lot of determination. I’m the type of person that likes to get away from the mould of being a typical disabled person, in terms of if there’s something that I’ve wanted to do and I know that I can, then I normally do do it. I’m in the process of finishing a book – an autobiography Having cerebral palsy can be quite frustrating and for me writing is a way of getting it out. It’s been quite cathartic, I’d say. I love being a mum. This is my daughter Natasha She is a part of my life that I was meant to have even though I was always told that I couldn’t have kids. Obviously, people were wrong. I’ve been able to look after her because of my family mostly and – I think – determination on my part. NASC is a body that is able to help people with disabilities. Without them, I think that I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today. [Interviewer]: What’s changed around you now? I’ve got a ramp and a wet area shower. I’m quite lucky with my chair because it’s a power chair and I’m able to get out and about in it by myself. I’m also able to lie in it without getting on my bed. Without a caregiver I wouldn’t be able to get up so yeah – they’re pretty important. I opted to have a Maori service provider. There hasn’t been one ever. Whakama is just a way of saying Maori who are scared to ask for help and hopefully by help with the CD Maori people who have disabilities won’t be afraid to ask for help. [Interviewer]: How would you be getting on without that kind of support? I wouldn’t be as independent as I am. I would be in care, 24 hours. I think my disability would just consume me. There is support out there. If I needed support then I first of all I’d ring CCS or NASC. Life is worth living. I am a strong person because I have a disability but I’ve made sure that my disability never rules my life it’s just part of who I am.

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