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Heart Saver AED winner: Wainui Marae

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among adults in New Zealand, killing five times more than the national road death toll. To reduce the impact of sudden cardiac arrest, Cigna and GrownUps have joined Heart Saver’s campaign to give away two AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) each month to deserving community groups.

The most recent recipient of an AED is Wainui Marae. Getting an AED for her community is something Waiatua Hikuwai has felt very strongly about since learning that cardiac arrest has resulted in the death of two kaumatua at her rural Wainui Marae in Kaeo, Northland.

“I’m sure if we had an AED we might have been able to save them,” says Waiatua. “I couldn’t understand why we didn’t have one.”

Just recently, a member of this small community suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be airlifted out. Fortunately, in this instance they were able to receive treatment in time and survived. However, it did highlight the importance of having closer access to an AED and that’s when Waiatua entered the Heart Saver AED competition.

“Our mokopuna in this picture totally understand what it means to have the AED accessible for our hapu – some of them became tearful when they found out. Thank you Heart Saver for changing lives, we are very grateful.”

The Wainui Marae in Kaeo, Northland, is situated in the centre of a valley. The marae is the civil defence location for the area and their facilities are often hired out by groups for functions. It’s a 45-minute trip for an ambulance to arrive from Kerikeri so knowing that an AED is now available at the heart of their community is a real relief for Waiatua.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to have won this AED for our people, everyone is so pleased. We know that the sooner you can access an AED the better your chances of survival. We’re going to put it in the entrance to the wharekai where it can be easily viewed and accessed by anyone in the area.”

Heart Saver, Cigna and GrownUps are delighted to donate an AED to Wainui Marae and hope that it will serve their community for years to come.