July 14, 2024

Zenith Tranquil

Information treatments and health conditions

Council overlooking own rules: therapist

2 min read
A Gore massage therapist and rongoā Māori practitioner says Gore District Council is wilfully disregarding the health benefits of the indigenous and other therapeutic services she offers.

Elaine Booker opened her “wellness centre” Pixie Well at a residential property in Albany St, Gore, in September last year.

During planning for the new business, Ms Booker contacted Gore District Council to establish whether resource consent was required for the centre’s activities, which include massage therapy, rongoā Māori, lomilomi, yoga, dance therapy and classes, facials and some spiritual services.

The council decided “in its entirety” the business provided commercial, rather than healthcare, services, meaning a resource consent was required, for which Ms Booker was charged a total of $3029.75.

After consulting a lawyer in December last year, Ms Booker said she discovered that no resource consent would have been required if her business had been defined as a healthcare provider.

“Rongoā Māori is accepted by ACC as being a recognised healthcare treatment modality on a par with Western medicine.

“In its correspondence with me, the council is trying to claim massage therapies including rongoā Māori, lymphatic drainage and lomilomi cannot be classed as healthcare activities.

“I feel council staff are not listening, and viewing some of the traditional therapies I offer through a Westernised lens.

“Even though it’s a relatively small sum, because I’m trying to get established down here every dollar matters, and it seems wilfully ignorant of the council to disregard its own rules regarding consents for healthcare activities.”

During a hearing regarding the consent on May 27, the council said it would waive $450 of the fees.

However, that did not satisfy Ms Booker.

“It’s been very frustrating, and I’d simply like the council to acknowledge the healthcare benefits of the therapies I offer, and then follow its own rules.”

A council spokeswoman said applications for resource consent were assessed “as a complete proposal”.

“Ms Booker’s application, in its entirety, was to provide services of a commercial nature.

“The resource consent application lodged by Ms Booker was for a wellness centre.

“There is no mention of healthcare. The activities listed in the application were predominantly of a commercial nature — for example, classes for yoga, Pilates, ballet, facials, beauty therapy, life coaching and traditional dance.

“Before lodging her application Ms Booker was told the proposal was a commercial activity and resource consent approval was required.

“She lodged her application on that basis …”

The spokeswoman said council staff had an understanding of traditional therapies.

“The council’s understanding and appreciation of [traditional] therapies is not the issue.

“As already stated, many of the activities proposed by Ms Booker fell outside the definition of healthcare and therefore she required a resource consent.”

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