Teaming up to quit smoking with the Wero Challenge

26 March 2015

Gisborne people are teaming up to stub out a habit that is still rife in the Gisborne community. Smokers are forming teams and pledging to quit smoking for three months, as part of a national competition, the WERO Challenge, which kicks off on 1 April, 2015.

The challenge was launched at Te Wananga o Aotearoa earlier this month (Wednesday 11 March). We now have ten teams signed up says Wero coordinator Di Akurangi from Tairāwhiti District Health.

“Evidence shows that if you smoke you are four times more likely to beat the addiction if you quit in a group. In a group people get a lot of support, there’s more accountability, and a reluctance to let your team mates down. This all helps people succeed – it’s a unified battle. Also the competitiveness of the challenge is a strong motivator, especially when participants are whanau members competing against one another.”

“Lots of organisations are on board to support the challenge. All participants must blow into a device called a smokerlyzer. It checks whether you are a smoker and eligible for the challenge. It measures how many toxins are in body thanks to smoking. The Smoking Cessation Team from Turanga Health will do weekly smokerlyzer tests on each participant to track how they are doing. They provide participants with gum, lozenges and patches to help alleviate cravings, and also deliver weekly mentoring sessions to the teams.”

“To keep challengers active the YMCA are providing three-month access to their gym and bootcamps. Shane Hooks from CrossFit 4010 is offering weekly team training sessions.”

The WERO Challenge was developed by the University of Auckland in a bid to help Maori and Pacific Islanders quit smoking (though anyone can take part). Participants are supported by health practitioners and are tested each week with a smokerlyzer.

The group with the most quitters after three months will win $5000 cash for a charity, community group or marae of their choice. There are also weekly spot prizes.

There is still time to join up. Contact Di Akurangi at TDH

 Whanau Toko i te Ora.

Young parents quitting smoking

Raiha Goldsmith is a Kaiawhina with Maori Women’s Welfare League supporting young mums. She brought a group of young parents along to launch to get them focused on their health and becoming smokefree. “With the Wero Challenge they will all be able to support each other. Being healthier and having more money in their pockets will be good for the kids.”


Medanare Phillips     

Medanare Phillips (Whanau Toko i te Ora)
is a mother of two and is hapu with her third child. “I have been smoking since I was 14 and never really tried to give up. Raiha has encouraged me to give this a go. The kid’s daddy has also signed up. Keeping active going to the gym will be a good bonus."

Christina Niania

Christina Niania (Whanau Toko i te Ora)
“I recently lost my dad so I felt like I wanted to give this a go. It will be a good thing for my kids. They are nine and five. They see me make a coffee and go outside and they know what I am doing. On a bad day I will have ten smokes and I can’t afford it. I have tried to give up before but it was hard."

Ora Taukamo

Ora Taukamo (Ararau Up Five)
"I have joined up with my workmates from Turanga Ararau. I am doing this for myself and my whanau. I have tried to quit before and it didn't work because I was trying to do it on my own. I think quitting as part of a group will make a difference. Getting smokerlyzed and knowing what my toxin levels are gives me something definite to work towards.”