Illness can't hold back determined pair

By Sophie Ryan

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Award winner Carol Cooper-Taylor, of Dargaville, with Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae. Photo/Supplied
Award winner Carol Cooper-Taylor, of Dargaville, with Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae. Photo/Supplied

Two Northlanders with respiratory diseases have been recognised for not letting their illnesses hold them back from achieving excellent things.

Esther-Jordan Muriwai and Carol Cooper-Taylor were presented Asthma Foundation Achievers' Awards in Wellington at Government House by the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Ms Cooper-Taylor, of Dargaville, has 31 per cent lung function and says her breathing is so obstructed she can no longer work.

"Imagine living your life breathing through a straw, that's what it feels like," she said.

She was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) eight years ago when her lung function got very low.

"I've had asthma all my adult life and it had gradually gotten worse," she said. After having a career in academia, Ms Cooper-Taylor felt compelled to write a book about living with COPD, the fourth most common cause of death in New Zealand.

"I can't do as much physically but I still have my mental capacity and so I thought why not write a book about [COPD]."

She manages the disease with inhalers and a continuous positive airway pressure machine at night.

Ms Muriwai has bronchiectasis, a crippling respiratory condition that is the aftermath of a childhood bout of whooping cough.

The Whangarei woman set up the Northland Bronchiectasis Support Group last year when she was 22.

Miss Muriwai was too unwell to talk to the Northern Advocate, but Ms Cooper-Taylor met her at the awards dinner and described her as an inspiring woman.

Asthma Foundation chief executive Angela Francis said managing a respiratory condition can be the difference between letting it dominate your life, or living a healthy life and achieving your goals.

Asthma Foundation patron, the Sir Jerry said the recipients have been brave, resilient and diligent in terms of managing their condition while also achieving excellence.

The ceremony was held as part of the Asthma Foundation's 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Ms Cooper-Taylor's book is online at and has been downloaded more than 3000 times.

- Northern Advocate

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