Tropicana fever spread like wildfire as Geneva Healthcare’s annual Spring Ball for Clients with disabilities hit the Ellerslie Event Centre in Auckland on Friday 8 September. Donned in Hawaiian shirts, lava lavas, grass skirts and puletasis, everyone basked in the vibrant Pacific island vibe of tropical hues, music and dancing as the Tropicana themed festivities started at one of the major highlights in Geneva’s disability Clients’ social calendar.

Geneva’s Clients were treated to a lively evening hosted by New Zealand’s boxing legend, David Tua, and Miss International New Zealand 2017 beauty queen, Michelle Isemonger; with Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health; Sonia Hawea, Chief Executive of Taikura Trust; their families, Support Workers and management from Geneva, and partner organisations.

Geneva provides persons with disabilities rehabilitation services and a caring home environment at their 25 Community Living Residences across Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, and Tauranga. The annual Spring Ball is just one of the many ways that their Clients live their best lives.

“Tonight is for you, our wonderful Clients from Community Living and Geneva Elevator; for you, our Staff and our Support Workers! It is your night to celebrate yourselves and all your amazing achievements; and for all of us to celebrate life – and tonight is a testament that we are all living our best one,” says Josephine Wallis, Geneva Healthcare Chief Executive and Founder. And as the showreel showcasing everyone’s milestones and achievements rolled across the large screens, Clients reflected on the year that was with a lot of cheers, laughter and awe.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health, highlighted all the great work being done in New Zealand’s health care industry to enable people with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest and overcome barriers to independence. “The lives you [Clients] live are deeply inspiring to those of us who don’t have to face the daily challenges that you do. And it’s a great night to celebrate life in general and look forward to the future.”

Awards of distinction were presented to deserving recipients on the night. Mercury’s Head of Operations, Andrew Peckham, presented Mercury’s Bright Spark Award to Kathy Jo Hillman-Te Rupe, the Geneva resident whose energy inspired others around her in brightening up the environment they live in. “We (at Mercury) are proud of our association with Geneva because at the deepest level we share some common values. We feel very strongly about playing our part in the communities where we operate and caring for Kiwis who need it most.”

The Residents’ Choice Award for the exceptional Support Worker who has gone out of their way to help Geneva Clients achieve their goals by keeping them connected to those closest to them and to their communities, was given to Karen Willacy of 13 Uta Street, Rotorua Community Living House.

The Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the Client Advisory Group in recognition of their outstanding contribution that enables their fellow residents to enjoy their home and community. This group is made up of Community Living Client representatives who work alongside Geneva’s management team to help ensure all Clients are able to live their best lives.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman presented the awards for the night’s Ball Queen, Patricia Harder; Ball King, Tamati (Thomas) Hamiora; as well as the Best Dressed Support Worker, Darshna Darshika.

The night also featured a light-hearted video of some lucky Clients training with David Tua; as well as Michelle Isemonger’s rendition of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song for the recent September celebrants. Geneva Elevator’s Music Therapy Client Choir performed two of their favourite songs, ‘Te Aroha’ by Te Puoho Katene, and ‘Yellow Submarine’ by The Beatles. While Geneva’s very own Executive Director, Peter Wilberfoss, led the Geneva Staff Ukulele Band as they started the night’s Tropicana dancing with a number of hit songs including Pokarekare Ana and ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles. Then it was time for everyone to hit the dance floor and boogie into the night.

This year’s annual Spring Ball was a great partnership between Geneva and other organisations who came together to make the event possible – Mercury, Cerebral Palsy Society of New Zealand, Vodafone, ASB, Buddle Findlay, Endeavour, Ray White, SecureCom, and Trade Me.

The night of Tropicana fun was a celebration of life, hope, and all the exciting possibilities that await the residents of Geneva’s Community Living Homes and Geneva Elevator Clients. Everyone left beaming with smiles and warm hearts as they look forward to next year’s Geneva Spring Ball.


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