HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5 minutes with ... Teuvira Upokotea
Massage for many people evokes the idea of repose and pampering, however there is a vast difference between relaxation and therapeutic massage, and at the forefront of the latter for the Cook Islands therapeutic platform is TeuviraUpokotea, also known as Vira,masseuse therapist of the MatarikiMaoro located at the quaint hut towards the back half of the Punanganui Market.
Maro or massage has not only readjusted our ill aligned postural stance but has also helped to shapeand contour our cook islands culturerespectively, as is commonly practiced traditional maro coupled with the use of akari pi or coconut oil steeped and mixed with local medicinal herbs is an age old remedy for most ailments and it was this very notion that first introduced Upokotea to the world of remedial massage. “When I was younger I received a number of sporting injuries because we didn’t have any physiotherapist I would have to visit the local mamas and papas who would do maro to help me recondition my body after every sporting game so with the old practitioners that gave me the starting point.”
From that definitive point Vira met with Human Resource Development (HRD) to inquire about furthering his knowledge in massage which could offer for him the necessary means of funding. Successful was Upokotea proposal that he was eventually granted a scholarship to attend and study with Wellpark College in Auckalnd, the largest therapeutic massage institute in New Zealand.
 “Upon returning the knowledge I had, I realized was still not enough, I needed more,” says Vira, he then re-approached HRD and was awarded a second scholarship to return to Wellpark College and in engage in Diploma level studies in remedial therapeutic massage.
For most people the distinction between remedial massage and relaxation massage is fused into one however Wellpark college teacher and mentor to Vira, Barbara Allpress expresses the adherent differences between the two. Remedial therapy is a two tiered platform, firstly it will look very closely at the history of long term pain or people who have persistent pain for example the construction worker with tight shoulders or the sportsman with over worked quads, and look at the repetitive movement through history that has caused trauma. Secondly and most importantly the practice of articular mobilization is applied whereby the corrective method of aligning your posture and placement of your bones is adjusted reflexology and lymphatic drainage
With level 6 qualifications and Diploma in Therapeutic massageTeuviraUpokotea spent a total of two and a half years gaining the necessary knowledge in human skeletal and muscular anatomy and the relationship the body plays in conjunction to our health, “it’s not just past injuries, it’s our health, our diets, what we put in is just as important, our hydration levels, water retention all of these things contribute to our wellbeing.”
But as an industry mentor Allpress argues that the difference between relaxation and therapeutic is sizable and largely marked down to industry experience and qualification. The New Zealand funded short term course that has seen an “influx of graduates” are of a level 3 standard explains Allpress, equivalent to a high school level qualification or basic level, not nearly sufficient for remedial therapy but adequate for relaxation type massage which fills a very large niche market here in the cook Islands.
“Remedial therapy that Vira does also looks at reflexology and lymphatic drainage it’s quite specific and very different from receiving a relaxation, pamper type massage,” shares Allpress.
For the MatarikiMaoro therapist Vira, a number of patients have graced his table over time from both international visitors to local person’s such as pearl crafter Sam Karaponga, who leans toward the better side of his sixties,and has carried a fractured 4th vertebraecaused by a spear tackle since his rugby hay days in the late 70’s. To further complicate Karaponga situation in 1996 he further endured a lethal blow from loose freight that fractured his skull and caused paralysis. Karapongaunderwent intensive surgery as the hair line fracture had now lengthened pinching on his nerves in his back, with a slim 50/50 survival rate Karaponga pulled through and was placed on a long waiting list for a placement in rehabilitation services in New Zealand. Reduced to a pair of crutches to aid any movement, loss of mobility and “ceasing muscles” Sam ventured to the Creative Centre to inquire about services for the disabled in Rarotonga where Vira was giving consultations.
Sam Karaponga, desperate for some advancement in his rehabilitation and mobility sort out a treatment programme with Upokotoea over a 3 month period, the programme included a session of articular mobilization therapy working on the fluid retention or build up in his legs regenerating the circulation and blood flow to the affected areas. The results for Karaponga included increased mobility, maneuvering and movement with ease, feeling returned to his legs, normalcy to the skin colour and texture “and now I can get in and out of my car with ease!,” Sam smiles.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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