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New MND support group in Taranaki

Community, Support

29 April 2024

MND Support Group in Taranaki

Photo caption: Jen (left) & Megan (right) are bringing together whānau impacted by MND

After losing her mum to motor neurone disease, Jen Smart saw a need to support grieving families.  “I always wanted to make people aware that if families feel supported then it helps the person living with motor neurone disease,” she says. 

Jen ran a Taranaki support group for 10 years in 1992 after her mum Phyllis died aged 62. Watching her friends’ recent devastating journeys has spurred her into action.  “I grieved turning 62 as Mum was a committed volunteer passionate about helping others. She had so much to give.”  

After a year of Jen’s four siblings being told by doctors that their mum had depression or had suffered a stroke or a breakdown, they were shocked by her diagnosis as there was no family history of motor neurone disease.  

“I quickly organised our wedding as Mum couldn’t walk or talk four months later. But throughout the whole ordeal, she was bright and never complained. We all looked after Mum at home as back then hospice was only for people with cancer.”  

Motor Neurone Disease New Zealand Regional Support Advisor Megan TeBoekhorst travels from Hamilton to visit 15 people living in Taranaki with a fatal illness.  

“People are amazing – they learn to take each day as it comes,” says Megan. “While we haven’t found a cure, you can make life easier for them and their families.” 

The Taranaki MND Support Group will meet every third Wednesday in the vicarage at St Mary's Cathedral Church. The next meeting is 15th May at 10.30am. 

You are invited to join the MND support group if you:

  • have MND
  • are a carer of a person with MND
  • are a local health or community care worker involved in the care of people with MND.

Enquiries to   or .

Thank you to the Neurological Foundation for allowing us to include their write up of the recent support meeting.

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