Award for New Zealand Campaigner 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



Last month, Arie “Ed” Grootegoed received the Air Zealand Lifetime Achiever's Award for Health and Safety for his work as the Welfare Investigating Officer for the Asbestos Diseases Association of New Zealand. The ceremony, at the National Workplace Health and Safety Conference on April 9, was a poignant experience for 82-year old Ed as his partner Lois, who had campaigned alongside him for 19 years, died last year. Like many plumbers, Ed's exposure to asbestos has had serious consequences for his health; in the 1990s, he discovered that he had contracted an asbestos-related lung disease.


In his acceptance speech, Ed spoke about his exposure to asbestos:

“I started my working life in New Zealand in 1952… My first job was in Dunedin, working with one of the largest plumbing and heating contractors, doing all the work for the Otago and Southland Hospital Board. Our main job was to renew all the old sinks and benches, fixing the plumbing and heating and adding extensions to the hospitals. I was sent to Gore hospital to install new boilers and pipework…I spent more than 3 years on the new Waikare Hospital installing the plumbing, heating, chlorifiers and the steam mains to the hospital… I spent the last bit of my working life, fixing the plumbing and heating on schools, mainly in the West Auckland area, and also a bit on hospitals.

I joined the Asbestso Diseases Association after my retirement, because I was heavily exposed to asbestos in New Zealand. I wanted to help others in my situation…I have spent the last 14 years trying to make people aware of the dangers of asbestos and how to protect themselves from it…”

For the years 1996-2005, New Zealand recorded the world's highest period mortality rates for pleural mesothelioma: 21.2 deaths/million/year. According to the New Zealand Cancer Register between 1992-2005 there were 850 cases of mesothelioma and 21,863 cases of lung cancer, of which 4,154 were believed to be asbestos-related.

May 19, 2008



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