Your Community, Your Voice Blog

Welcome to the Arthritis New Zealand Your Community, Your Voice Blog. This blogging community brings together the expertise, insights and experiences of a diverse range of people who are living with different kinds of arthritis, as well as Arthritis Educators working for Arthritis New Zealand, clinicians and allied health professionals.

This is an inclusive, positive and empowering place for those affected by arthritis to share their experiences, knowledge and insights for the benefit of the broader community.

Arthritis & Election 2017

Politics matters! We know that more than 620,000 people have a diagnosis of arthritis. If even 10 percent of those people contacted their local MP they would be a formidable voice for change. How can we make sure this happens? This year’s election campaign is a...

Athena Dennis: Blogging 101: Beginner’s checklist

Here is a checklist of things to consider adding to your posts to make them more relevant, lively and interesting to the reader. Although this checklist isn't prescriptive, it is advice. We encourage you to let your creative juices flow and be the free-wheeling...

Athena Dennis: Writing for Arthritis New Zealand: Blogger guidelines

Kia ora! So you would like to join our blogging community at Arthritis New Zealand? We’re so happy to have you on-board. Your thoughts, opinions and experience of either having arthritis or helping those with arthritis will be immeasurably helpful to other people. He...


Hand Therapist

I’m a hand therapist who regularly sees people overcoming difficulties with thumb and hand arthritis. It’s possible to make improvements with a willingness to learn new ways of doing things and I’m excited about using social media to share ideas and experiences. Read more on Handhub’s blog.

Daniel Umaga

Pacific Community Development Coordinator - Arthritis NZ

Talofa lava, my name is Dan Umaga. I was born in Newtown, Wellington in the 1960s. I am a first generation New Zealand-born Samoan. Our family shifted to Wainuiomata in 1965 where I grew up. Read more on Daniel’s blog.

Jane Messer

Arthritis Educator/ RN - Arthritis NZ

Hi Everyone. I’m Jane an RN working as an arthritis educator for the past nine years.

I really enjoy my job, as I’m supporting the community to understand their arthritis diagnosis and how to manage to live positively with this long term health condition. Read more on Jane’s blog.


I am 21 years young from a small town where everybody knows everything and everyone. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the tender age of 19 but had gone through two years of tests and procedures to get to this.

But is that all? Follow me and my journey through all the little bumps in the road. Read more on Sera’s blog.


Age 69. Made in New Zealand. I was born and schooled in Hastings, spent thirty years living in Whakatane. In my retirement years, I now live in Tauranga with my husband and a ning-nong calico cat. I’m a published writer, however, these days write for enjoyment only. Read more on Valma’s blog.


Age 28. I have had SLE since I was 12 and Rheumatoid arthritis since I was 18, I am a total believer in how a positive mind is the first step in treating any symptoms and want to share how this frame of mind can help. I believe in educating people on medication or alternative treatment, as I am big on using both methods. Read more on Kate’s blog.

Jane Wilson

Policy Advisor/Arthritis New Zealand

Hi, I’m Jane. I have a background in policy development and research and worked for government and in the health sector before joining Arthritis New Zealand. Read more on Jane’s blog.


I’m Tim, 55, and have osteoarthritis. No matter what your age, a diagnosis of arthritis is a difficult change to come to terms with. I want to encourage others who live with arthritis to do the single best thing in their lives – keep moving.In August 2017 I take part in my toughest cycling challenge yet – the Le Mans Pearl Izumi 24H Velo. Read more on Tim’s blog.


G’day I’m Bruce I work in the engineering sector and I’m also known as hottriggeredkiwi. A clue to my history is that I grew up on a dairy farm near a tiny town in rural Waikato.

I was diagnosed with sero-negative ankylosing spondilitis back in the late 80’s. Read more on Hotriggeredkiwi’s blog.


Olivia, aged 26: I currently have my own blog about my experience of living with Lupus and would love to share my journey of navigating this illness with others. I am really passionate about spreading awareness about how Arthritis impacts younger people. Read more on Olivia’s blog.


Hi, I’m Erin and I’ve lived with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since 1973. I was born in the United States and obtained a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy there in 1998. In 1999 I married a Kiwi and moved to live in New Zealand. Read more on Erin’s blog.


A small town kid living in a big city, dinosaur geek, musician and human to multiple cats. I’ve had arthritis since I was ten years old, and I’m keen to share my experiences of navigating the world and trying to adult while living with chronic illness. Read more on Gezellig’s blog.

Sarah S 


Hi I’m Sarah. I’m 35 and I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 22. It’s been a challenge over the years to raise my three kids and reach my goals while navigating life with a chronic condition. Read more on Sarah S’s blog.

Kylie Frost 

Hi I’m Kylie Frost. I suffer from a form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis. Inflammation in my spine and other joints is causing my bones to fuse together. The only way I can prevent this is to keep moving. Read more on Kylie’s blog.

Arthritis & Election 2017

Politics matters! We know that more than 620,000 people have a diagnosis of arthritis. If even 10 percent of those people contacted their local MP they would be a formidable voice for change. How can we make sure this happens? This year’s election campaign is a...

Kylie Frost: Dinner won’t cook itself, but how do I open all of the product packaging?

It is 6 o'clock at night and I have finally finished work for the day. I head to the fridge to check what I can cook for dinner. In another life I was a chef and loved to cook. Now I dread it. Oh goody, mince again. Maybe lasagne? The thought fills me with dread. Not...

Kylie Frost: It’s the little things that matter

Having ankylosing spondylitis has taught me many things. I was always shy and quiet. I never spoke up for myself and would never ask for help. Over the years I have found my voice, both in talking with doctors and by sharing my journey with people.

Hotriggeredkiwi: Never let the bastard (arthritis) win

The iciness quickly cut through to the bone as I walked to the beach. Then the pain transferred to the cutting of razor sharp edges of oyster shells and dull bites of stones on bones as they hit pressure points of my feet.

Val Bird: To loo or not to loo, that is the question!

I started gripping the toilet-roll-holder as a ‘push me up.’ However, while this helped me to get back on my feet, it still caused a nasty crunching pain in my knee. I was also concerned that one day the toilet roll holder would give way, causing both me and the toilet wall a significant problem.

Gezellig: How arthritis has made me stronger

what’s often overlooked with many chronic illnesses and disabilities is the way they can shape you in positive ways as a person. I think I would have grown up to relate to the world in a different way if I hadn’t had arthritis since childhood; not necessarily in a better way or a worse way, just differently. Some of the aspects of my character that I’m most proud of have, I think, been enhanced by the experiences I’ve had. Let me elaborate.

Sarah S: “Open here” a letter to pharmaceutical companies about medication packaging

Dear pharmaceutical companies,

I’m really reliant on you guys right now. These last few weeks I’ve realised just how reliant.

You see, I need your medications to lower my immune system’s response. Your creations keep me moving. They give me the ability to get up in the morning, care for my children, walk my youngest daughter to school, go to work, attend university, use a knife and fork, cook meals, and sometimes if I’m lucky, they give me the energy to catch up with my friends and have a good time.

Jane Messer: Should we all move to Arizona or Queensland?

Find what works for you. Keep some energy for enjoyable activities. Hang in there and don’t go it alone – reach out for support. Spring is just around the corner!

Erin: When the glass is half empty, not half full

I would encourage you not to be afraid or embarrassed to talk to your GP or rheumatologist if you’re struggling with insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, lack of appetite or feelings of exhaustion. Six months on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication may make all the difference to you. It never hurts to ask.

Daniel Umaga: On becoming a beacon for those with Gout

A key task for me in my work at Arthritis New Zealand is promoting awareness and services about gout amongst Pacific communities. Gout is the second most common form of arthritis in New Zealand and more prevalent here per head of population than anywhere else in the world. More than 160,000 people were diagnosed with gout in 2014 and 22,000 of these were Pacific people.

Valma: Don’t throw out the lady with the bathwater

I learnt a lesson last year while taking this arthritic body on holiday. Here we were in scenic Queenstown on a coach tour when a last-minute change of hotels meant my request for a room with a walk-in shower was a ‘no go.’ All the rooms in this hotel had a shower...

Hotriggeredkiwi: Daydreaming in Aotearoa

As with anything else, the tougher and more distant the gain, the more satisfying the reward. Walking to location in the pre-dawn half-light, I’m sure that my forever trusty tripod has turned into the heaviest dark slithering wet beastie with a life of its own.

Tim Neal: “Art” is the name of the unwanted guest at my place

Today’s words come to you courtesy of something all who live with ART (my nickname for arthritis) will understand, I'm sure. Next month I take part in my toughest cycling challenge yet – the Le Mans Pearl Izumi 24H Velo. Apart from the physical training, the mental...

Cyclist Tim keeps moving – in spite of arthritis

Tim Neal lives with osteoarthritis and has endured several major operations on his joints. But that won’t stop him competing next month in the Le Mans Pearl Izumi 24 hour cycling race in France and raising money for Arthritis New Zealand. Tim was first diagnosed with...

Kylie Frost: My road to living again with arthritis

Two years ago I left my rheumatologist’s office with nothing more than advice. No further treatment options were available. There was no magic pill to make my pain disappear. Over 30 years of searching for an answer and I finally had a diagnosis. I had a name –...

Sarah S: The ‘you’re too young to have arthritis’ guide to exercise

If you’ve had arthritis a while, the chances are that someone (or perhaps many people) have reminded you of the importance of exercise for managing arthritis. The medical professionals are right about that – exercise is a helpful tool for pain management. In fact,...

Gezellig: Tips for getting through flare-ups

I’ve been struggling all week to come up with a topic for this blog post. I haven’t felt particularly inspired or creative and have been struggling just to manage day-to-day life. I’ve put it down to the fact that my arthritis has been flaring a bit this week, nothing...

Erin: Arthritis arrives

I was walking to my car when I dropped my keys. I stood staring at them. I was alone on the large expanse of grass at university. No one was around to help. Now what? Arthritis arrives I was only seven years old when I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis...

Olivia: Life-changing words

“That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.” - Elizabeth Wurtzel "Your daughter has systemic lupus erythematosus." It was six simple words, strung together in a sentence that would dramatically change a young family’s life, as they nervously sat in...

Hotriggeredkiwi: Day’s dawning

Another long week at work with 50-plus hours on the clock... again, the extrication of self out of an extremely warm, soft and cosy bed on this cold autumnal morning is a toughie. I have to wake up anyway, even if only to silence the alarm that is yet to go off at...

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