Monday, 06 July 2020


The new local who met the Duchess

The new local who met the Duchess

With the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge and their son, Prince George visiting New Zealand the past few weeks, the question inevitably was asked, “Was there someone in Mercury Bay who met one, or all, of the royals?” And the answer is yes. Anna Geard, a counsellor who until recently worked at Rainbow Place and now living in Whitianga, met Kate, the Duchess, in Hamilton on 12 April.

Rainbow Place is the children’s service of Hospice Waikato in Hamilton. It’s a centre providing support for children with a life limiting or life threatening illness and children experiencing grief and loss through the serious illness or death of a loved one. “Kate is the patron of children’s hospices in the United Kingdom,” said Anna. “She wanted to visit a similar children’s service in New Zealand and take some ideas with her back home. Rainbow Place was fortunate to be chosen as the children’s service for her to visit in New Zealand.

“Over the past two years I have been working with a boy whom has experienced a sudden and traumatic bereavement. Part of what I did with him was sand-play therapy.  It’s a form of therapy that is used in counselling to help a person process and express thoughts and feelings that are difficult to put into words. As Kate was keen to hear experiences from those we work with themselves, my colleagues and I felt he had something special to share with Kate. I asked him if he would be open to doing this with my support and he was. On the day, I introduced him to her and he shared a piece of work he had done in the sand tray around his journey through grief, the ups and downs from the very beginning until now.

Kate was very interested in and sensitive to what he had to say. She came across genuine and down to earth. She was just fantastic. “Kate met with some other children and young people as well in the centre’s art therapy, play therapy and teen spaces and then it was time for an amazing Mad Hatters tea party. Many of the Rainbow place kids and their families were there. That was something I will remember forever. The families have been through so much. Kate spent time talking to everyone and really listening to their stories. The children and their families had a fantastic and memorable time.”

So, what brings Anna to Whitianga? “I had an opportunity last year to reassess what I want from life. I’ve been working as a counsellor in high-end agency work for the past eight years and I decided I needed a lifestyle change. I wanted to live by the ocean in a smaller community. I have family here in Whitianga and have spent a lot of time in this area as a child and especially over the past three years. This is where I want to be at this time in my life. I would like to get a counselling practice off the ground, working with all ages, especially children and youth and their families as this is my area of expertise. And I would love to teach lots of yoga, for adults and kids, that’s something I’m passionate about.”

Probing about her passion for yoga, Anna revealed that she’s previously taught yoga at studios in Auckland and Hamilton and at a kindergarten, to kids aged three to five. “They loved it,” she said. She has also had lots of sports teams, including Chiefs rugby players, in her yoga classes, “And they loved it too.”

That’s it then, meet Anna Geard - new Whitianga resident, counsellor and yoga teacher. And someone who had the privilege to meet Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, the mother of George, the future King of England.


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