Creating safer communities is a passion

Extending a helping hand to somebody in need is second nature to Nanette Nathoo, QSM, the latest SuperSeniors Champion.

The hospice volunteer, business owner, and head of the Auckland Indian Association Crime Prevention Committee, is passionate about creating safer communities.

She is working with Auckland Police to develop videos, workshops and safety messages about how to take care of yourself and others.

Nanette Nathoo

The optimistic and bubbly personality (right) has experienced her own share of very difficult times, especially during 2015.

“I lost my young 28-year-old son, my baby Prasant, in a fatal truck and train accident, just on his way to work. Just snap like that, in a blink of an eye,” she says.

“And I lost my dad when I was carrying my first child, my daughter, back in ‘74 and that was a bus accident in Hobson St."

“When you’ve lost two people… you look at life in a different perspective.”

Her mother’s words gave her comfort.

“Mum said, ‘Life’s a drama and if you can’t understand something, well, step back because whatever happens is meant to happen, and you can’t change that.’

“Sometimes you’ve got to step back and then you actually see it in a different light."

“Something you think is really tragic and bad… but my son could be more needed somewhere else so I looked at it that way.”

Committed to volunteering

Mrs Nathoo grieved deeply and was determined to continue her volunteer work.

“After I lost my son Prasant, I was more involved with working with the communities and NZ Police.

“I was more motivated on crime prevention and safety.

“Buckle your children when you get in, you see so many people driving and using their mobile phone.

It’s all the basics but people, if they can get away with it, they get away with it until something happens to them.

“It was nothing like that in my son’s accident but I just want to get the message for safety whether it be scams or burglaries.”  

Getting the safety message across to ethnic communities is important, she says.

“A lot of people are scared to ring 111 and they don’t necessarily know you can ask for a different language – it’s not just always in English.

“Everybody knows about scams and security, about locking your place up, don’t leave valuables in your car but we, as humans, we need little reminders so that was my avenue.”

Nanette Nathoo with Minister

Mrs Nathoo is urging seniors to get help when they really need it.

“I think for seniors especially, they’re too proud to ask for help.”

She points to a 95-year-old friend of hers who was interviewed for home help over the phone.

“She sounds like me, bubbly. She would never sound as if she’s 95 years old so she actually didn’t get help when she did need it but she would not ask for it.”

Simple things can be done which are a big help she believes.

“If you’ve got a cold – ask the family can you cook dinner for me, just simple little things.

Little things count and that’s what makes an impact in others’ lives; whether it be a simple meal or coming and vacuuming.”

Nanette Nathoo (left) with Minister Maggie Barry

Mrs Nathoo says older people need to look after their health.

“Health is your wealth – it could just be sitting in the sun, getting vitamin D, not drinking enough water, getting dehydrated, lots of little, little things can make a big impact."

“The elders don’t want to go to the doctors so they get sicker and sicker – the bronchitis sets in because they didn’t go and get antibiotics when they should have.”

Pets are also important she believes.

“Pets are very important in your life. They give you a lot of life and company and quite often, the elderly are very lonely."

“For the elderly, sometimes it’s just a visit from a pet, you know.”

Live life to the full

Living life to the full is additional advice.

“A hobby, start a bucket list, do things you’ve always wanted to, or do things on the spur of the moment; that’s even more exciting."

“I’ve just done that recently and I’ve booked a trip to India with a delegation representing New Zealand and I haven’t been back to India since 1988. It’s that impulse – go dancing, sing.”

“At the end of the day, what makes you happy and you’re enjoying it, whether it be golf or going on a cruise. I highly recommend going on a cruise –you meet different people, there’s so many activities, everything’s on board if you’re restricted or in a wheelchair, or you need assistance.”

The voluntary work Mrs Nathoo does, including visits to the hospice and her safety messages, is very important to her.

“Nothing is paid for, it’s all done from the heart and if you can help somebody..do it.”

Family is also a priority.

“Family is very important. Family time, grandchildren, history, the legacy,” she says.

“Quite often our grandchildren don’t know the struggle their grandparents had. My daughter Roshni wants to start videoing her granddad and hear his stories of how he first came out and they only had a few bob in their pocket.”

Mrs Nathoo says obstacles, hard times and tragedy are experienced by everyone.  

“That’s part of life, the way we get sun and the way we get rain, day to day. You can have all the plans in the world yet if they’re not meant to be."

“The old saying of live for today… that really comes home true because tomorrow is never promised.”