Asthma sufferers are learning a thing or two on triggers and how to deal with an asthma emergency through one colourful character.

Sailor the Pufferfish visited Tawera Bilingual School as part of a Bay of Plenty tour of the te reo asthma musical show this morning in conjunction with World Asthma Day.

Hosted by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand the engaging Māori musical show is the first of its kind within Aotearoa, aiming to educate tamariki and kaiako within Māori medium schools on asthma triggers, how to self-manage asthma and what to do in an asthma emergency.

More than 1000 Māori children were admitted to hospital in 2017 after a potentially life-threatening attack. The foundation believed many of these hospitalisations could be prevented.

Head of education and research Teresa Demetriou said the show was able to get the message across to tamariki in a non-threatening and entertaining way.

"Being able to deliver this show in te reo Māori helps us to engage the Māori community in a way that we haven't been able to do previously.


"Children just love the music and the bright, colourful sailor puppet."

Asthma was a common illness of the respiratory system which one child in seven needed to take medicine for in New Zealand.

People with asthma had sensitive airways which could be triggered by the environment, leading to swelling and tightening of the airways making it difficult to breathe. 

Presented by Rotorua local Hinerongonui Kingi the show had already been delivered to 12 kura throughout the region.

Hinerongonui Kingi with Sir John Clarke, the foundation's chief cultural adviser. Photo / Supplied
Hinerongonui Kingi with Sir John Clarke, the foundation's chief cultural adviser. Photo / Supplied

Kingi said, "He tino whakahirahira ki te whakaako ki ō tātou tamariki me ō tātou kaiako e pā ana ki te mate huangō.

"Ko te hauora pai te tino kaupapa kia ora pai ai tātou. E harikoa ana au ki te whakaatu atu kia koutou i te whakaaturanga mate huangō nei ki ō tātou Kura Kaupapa Māori i tēnei tau."

In addition to the Sailor Shows, the foundation was also running an interactive World Asthma Day schools campaign which had seen more than 130 schools across New Zealand sign up to be involved.

Hundreds of asthma school activity packs had been sent out to schools in preparation for World Asthma Day.

World Asthma Day was celebrated worldwide and the activity pack was available for all early childhood education centres, primary schools, intermediate schools and secondary schools throughout New Zealand.

Asthma Facts:


-Māori, Pacific peoples and low-income families are around three times more likely to be hospitalised by asthma

-More than 597,000 New Zealanders take medication for asthma

-That's one in eight adults, one in seven children

-7685 hospital admissions caused by asthma in 2017 – of which 40 per cent were children under 15

-The cost of asthma to the nation is more than $1 billion per year

-77 Kiwis die from asthma each year