It’s impossible to resist Tautu Kaima’s cheeky laugh. The 49 year old from Rotorua is an incredibly positive personality, who can’t help but lift the mood of those around him.
Then perhaps it is unsurprising that Tautu is the life of every party. “My life before the accident, I was what you might call a wild-child. I used to grab my guitar and go to parties, weddings, everything,” he says.
Last year Tautu had an accident that led to the amputation of his leg. He admits that for a while this dampened the usually lively man’s spirits.
“For all my friends to find out that I was stuck inside a building inside 4 walls, they were surprised I didn’t lose it. But, my outlook on life is to just live it. Doesn’t matter what you go through. Every day is a new day. If you have a bad day, that’s beyond you now,” he says.
Eventually what got Tautu through this difficult time was his love of music. Tautu plays the guitar and loves to sing.
“My music taste is pretty much everything. From heavy metal to opera. A lot of people freak out when I sing opera,” he laughs.
Tautu is a part of an online music community called Powertool. The way it works is simple. “You plug in your microphone and you can sing. Then people in the forum give you feedback. It’s a really good community.”
He explains that members of the community often become friends. Many also have a disability like Tautu. “I hear other people’s heartache, what they’re going through. It’s amazing. It makes you think wow I’m going through something similar,” he says.
In terms of the day to day disability-related supports, what helped Tautu after the accident was Individualised Funding.
“I’ve been on IF (Individualised Funding) with Manawanui for about 11 months. It was a God-sent when I found out about it and what it involves. It’s really helped me. Without it I think I’d be up a creek without a horse.”.
Individualised Funding has allowed Tautu to choose who he employs as support staff to work around his schedule.
“My staff are fantastic as carers. Not only do they cook and clean and do my washing, but they also massage my limbs because I have very dry skin. They check everything. They make sure everything is running fine. If I need to go to the doctors or anything, they make sure I get to the doctors. All my appointments are covered. It’s been very good.”
Today Tautu has a positive outlook on his future and is looking forward to receiving a prosthetic and walking again.
“I’m going to do all the things I used to do— go fishing, go to the lakes. I know it’s all doable. I know it’s in the future and I look forward to it.”
Individualised Funding is a form of funding for people needing disability support. Individualised Funding can give a person more choice, control and flexibility as they decide who, when and how provides their supports. IF is based on a philosophy of person-centred control, in which people should be able to lead ordinary lives and have choice and control over their lives.