Friday, 21 June 2019


International professionals part of team at Eden Clinic

Ruben Arriola arrived in Whitianga in September last year to study English for four weeks at Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre (COLC). He hails from Eibar, a city in the Basque Country of Spain, where he grew up and worked for two years as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, specialising in tuina (a Chinese medical massage) and acupuncture.

Ruben became interested in traditional Chinese medicine through the work of his father, who’s both a medical doctor and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.
Ruben studied traditional Chinese medicine in Madrid for six years. He returned to Eibar after the completion of his studies. The two years Ruben worked in Eibar was taxing and he decided the middle of this year that an OE would be a good escape.
Ruben’s four weeks at COLC was the first four weeks of his OE. It didn’t take him long to realise that he really liked Whitianga and the people of the town and he approached Libby George, the owner of Eden Clinic in Albert Street, to see if she would allow him to work at with her for six months after he has seen more of New Zealand. “I certainly wanted my OE to be an amazing experience, but I also wanted it to be an opportunity to get some international work experience and, if possible, improve my professional skills,” says Ruben.
“I heard Ruben out when he came to see me,” says Libby. “My immediate reaction was to say ‘no,’ but after 10 seconds I changed my answer to ‘yes.’ I’m the only traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist at Eden Clinic and having Ruben working with me would lighten my workload, especially over the busy summer season. For the past 23 years I’ve always been open between Christmas and New Year and I knew things can get frantic during that time.”
After having travelled through New Zealand in an old self-contained van he purchased, Ruben formally joined the Eden Clinic team three weeks ago. “I was glad to come back to Whitianga,” he says. “The Coromandel is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful part of New Zealand.”
Ruben isn’t the only member of the Eden Clinic team who came from overseas. “Simon Hopfengartner trained as a naturopath and osteopath in Germany and works with us as an alignment specialist,” says Libby. “He has a specific focus on pregnant women and newborn babies.”
Simon qualified in 2010 and worked in Nuremberg in Germany before relocating to New Zealand and starting to work with Libby in 2016.
In addition to Libby, Ruben and Simon, the Eden team consist of three naturopaths - Anne Kerr-Bell, Abigail Smith and Kirsten Donovan. “Anne and Abigail are providing relaxing and therapeutic massages as well, while Kirsten is responsible for the wellness reviews of our clients and recommending where appropriate the practitioner products we stock,” says Libby.
Once his six months contract with Eden Clinic has come to an end, Ruben hopes to spend some time in China. “There’s more about tuina and acupuncture I need to learn,” he says. “After that, who knows, going back to Eibar is probably what will happen. Wherever I end up, one thing is certain, my time in Whitianga will always be a part of the amazing experience I wanted my OE to be.”
Libby started to work as a massage therapist in Whitianga 23 years ago, when she put out an advertising sign in Monk Street. “Within 20 minutes I had four bookings,” she says. “In 2000, when I was in my 40s, I went back to school and studied traditional Chinese medicine at the New Zealand School of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Today I have an integrative approach to natural medicine, incorporating traditional Chinese medicine with massage and cutting-edge science.
“I’m proud of the way Eden Clinic has grown over the years and having international professionals like Simon and Ruben as part of our team is really special.”
Pictured: Libby George, the owner of Eden Clinic, with Simon Hopfengartrner (on the left) and Ruben Arriola.



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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.