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by Chris Tobin

New Zealand needs to prepare for a tsunami of health issues such as dementia, president of Alzheimers NZ Dr Ngaire Dixon says.

Speaking at the handover of a cheque for $20,162 from Midland Freemasons to Alzheimers South Canterbury last week she said there were 70,000 people with dementia in New Zealand and this number was expected to treble by 2050 costing New Zealand $5billion a year.

“We’re getting the word out there with education. New Zealand faces a challenge because we’re going to be facing a tsunami due to the ageing population.

“Also it is related to how people are living. We know that if you look after your heart you also look after your brain.”

She said there was a stigma attached to dementia which they were attempting to reduce.

“We are just so grateful to get this money; we are self-funded.”

The money would be used in South Canterbury.

Another cheque for $20,162 was presented to a trustee of Parkinsons NZ, Andrew Dunn, of Palmerston North, who said the money would also be used in South Canterbury.

“We are trying to support home visits and with this we will be able to do that for several years to come.”

The grants were presented by the grandmaster of Midland district freemasons, Alex Solomon, and were made by Perpetual Guardian on behalf of the M.M. and D.J. Robertson Charitable Trust which has been wound up. The late D.J. (Donald) was born in Timaru and operated a thriving importing business in Auckland.

Former New Zealand Freemasons grandmaster, David Mace, of Auckland said Freemasons gave nearly $1million a month in charitable work through such things as the hospice movement. They had accumulated assets of just short of $1billion.

“After World War 2, there were 175,000 Freemasons in New Zealand. Our numbers have diminished (to 7000) but we are doing very well and are very strong with a track record of caring.”

Mr Solomon said four lodges operated in Timaru based at the Masonic Complex in Maltby Ave – St John, THe Caledonian Lodge No 16, Lodge Koranga 197 and Lodge Timaru 196.