By Meghan Lawrence

The death of a Kiwi woman on holiday in Rarotonga has motivated family to donate to the island's health services.

Bruce Robertson, the husband of Waikato woman Michelle Robertson, who died on August 5, has spoken out about the unforeseen circumstances surrounding his wife's death.

The couple were holidaying with a group of friends in the Cook Islands, when 37-year-old Michelle became bedridden with a sore back.


Bruce said his wife's condition didn't improve so he took her to a local doctor where she was given medication to help with the pain and to stop nausea.

"She was in bed for the next couple of days and didn't get any better," he said.

"It was the day before we were meant to fly out that I went and had a look at her and her eyes were starting to go yellow.

"We took her to the hospital and found out it was a hell of a lot worse than we thought."

Michelle was diagnosed with an internal infection "which had attacked her kidneys, and once the kidneys stopped working it started to attack her liver", Bruce said.

"Her kidneys had been stopped for a while. They pumped her full of stuff but the damage was already done."

Bruce said he has "all the praise in the world" for the work the hospital did, "but unfortunately there wasn't a dialysis machine on the island".

On his return to New Zealand, Bruce and a friend have decided to try and source a dialysis machine and donate it to the Rarotonga Hospital.


"I have a friend who is now talking to Waikato Hospital to see what we can do to get a machine over there.

"As soon as we find out what is required we are going to start up a Givealittle page or something like that."

Michelle Robertson with husband Bruce (middle) and son Levi (left).
Michelle Robertson with husband Bruce (middle) and son Levi (left).

A celebration of Michelle's life was held at St Peter's Catholic Church, in Cambridge, on August 16.

Bruce said over 400 people attended the service which farewelled the "respected" and "dearly loved" wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunty and friend.

Michelle was born in Whanganui but moved to the Waikato town of Cambridge as a young child.

She was the eldest of four siblings, two sisters and a brother, and attended St Peter's Catholic School and Cambridge High School.

Bruce said the pair met when they moved in next door to each other.

"I moved into a house over the fence from her with a couple of flat mates.

"We must have been a bit noisy because they started coming over and asking us to quiet down, but then her and her younger sister started coming over and joining in the noise.

"It grew from there. That was nearly 15 years ago."

The couple had been married for 13 years and had one child together, 12-year-old Levi. Michelle also had two stepdaughters, Nicole and Karla.

"She had four big loves: family, friends, cooking and red wine," Bruce said.

"She was probably the best cook and baker in both families. She loved to cook and it was always one of those things that when people came around there was always some baking in the pantry.

"Levi said to me just the other day, 'I need to go and take some cooking classes because it won't be the same without Mum.'

"She was a fantastic mother and really family orientated. Anything our son did, she was 100 per cent involved with. She also helped coach rugby and basketball with me."

Michelle had worked for Briscoes Cambridge for 12 years.

Bruce said the family was taking things day by day, and would like to thank friends and family for their support.

"The outpouring of emotions from family and friends, and even people I don't know, has been incredible and I am really thankful for the support the whole town has given us."