Murray Linnell is an ocean swimmer who has discovered a passion for an on-water challenge that’s more than a sport, it is a culture, an identity, a community. Waka Ama.
Throughout Polynesia waka is the hull, ama is the outrigger and together we have Waka Ama. Waka Ama are light and fast, demanding but fun and very exciting for a team to race.
Murray thinks Waka Ama is a great sport for the House to House Challenge for Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) New Zealand. For this story we will call the campaign Kainga tahi, Kainga Rua to honour the tangata whenua language of Aotearoa New Zealand. The proverb illuminates that when a child has to leave behind their own home (kainga tahi), RMHC New Zealand provides a supportive other home (kainga rua).
Kainga tahi, Kainga rua is a physical endurance challenge to raise awareness and much-needed funds. Fundraisers like Murray can choose any non-motorised physical activity they like, run, bike, swim, or even paddle. Clock up 210km in the month as an individual or as a team to support RMHC New Zealand.
210km is the average distance an RMHC New Zealand family has to bring their child to receive hospital treatment away from home.
RMHC New Zealand is a ‘home-away-from-home’ for families, free from distracting stresses like accommodation, meals, and parking. All these costs are donated by amazing fundraisers and partners, so families can stay just a stone's throw away from their child in hospital.
Murray and his wife Megan know exactly what that is like for families staying with RMHC New Zealand. Their son Rupert was in class at Napier Boys High School when he was suddenly hit by massive chest pain. It felt like a heart attack, but it was actually his lung collapsing.
This is called a Spontaneous Pneumothorax – because it is for no known reason at all. After 10 days in Hawkes Bay Hospital – the lung failed to seal. “They had to Air Ambulance him to Wellington,” Murray said, “for quite an invasive nasty and highly painful treatment.”
The surgeons had to make sure Rupert’s lung would not collapse again. They did this by removing a wedge of lung (Wedge Resection) and then effectively gluing the lung to the wall of his chest, to form a weld of scar tissue. This is called a chemical & abrasive Pleurodesis. It is extremely painful but it reduces the chance of re-collapse from 60% to just 1%. Rupert fully recovered.
While Rupert spent a full week in the Cardiothoracic High Dependency Unit, his family were able to stay across the road, just metres away, at Ronald McDonald House® Wellington.
Murray made an important discovery about RMHC New Zealand. It’s not just the free accommodation, the meals, the relief of stress, and the closeness of their son. “It’s like a family. A whole big, massive support network. It was the people you actually met. How you all participate in making the meal … knowing that across the road is your son or daughter who is critically ill. It’s quite healing. It’s a fantastic place to be.”
As soon as Murray saw the Kainga tahi, Kainga Rua challenge pop up on his Instagram, he couldn’t wait to get behind it, and his Takitimu Outrigger Canoe Club team would be on board.
This sense of whanau is what makes Waka Ama a perfect match for the Kainga tahi, Kainga Rua Challenge. Waka Ama is a diverse community, with all ages and backgrounds welcoming everyone and working together, digging paddles deep, with all hands on deck – just like the families, staff, volunteers, and supporters of RMHC New Zealand.
You too can be part of your own Kainga tahi, Kainga Rua/House-to-House Challenge. Join Murray and so many others in going the extra mile – or 210km - in March, for families with a child, like Murray’s son Rupert in hospital.
Sign up to support like Murray and his mates today!