About

Our mission

SpinPoi is dedicated to improving lives through poi - a fun, accessible, affordable way to engage both the mind and body.

SpinPoi was founded by Dr. Kate Riegle van West, an interdisciplinary researcher and artist with a passion for play and wellbeing. Over the past decade she has conducted the first study to scientifically investigate the effects of poi on health, invented the Orbitar (a digital poi musical instrument), and has given poi workshops across the globe. She was awarded the Future Leader Award from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Best Doctoral Thesis award from the University of Auckland for her work in the poi/health field. She continues to push the boundaries of poi, with a focus on utilizing poi in aged care as a tool for improving physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing.

From a young age Kate gravitated toward climbing on things/hanging upside down/causing general panic for her parents. At age 7 she joined a youth circus in the USA, and immediately knew the circus was her home. It was also where she eventually discovered poi, an unassuming sock with a weight in the end that completely spun her life around (pun intended). Kate continued performing and coaching circus throughout her studies and career as a digital artist, web designer, and musician, but became frustrated with the lack of evidence around poi as a tool for improving health. At age 28 she left her job at Harvard University and moved to New Zealand, where poi began, to pursue a PhD on a ball on a cord. In 2018 she completed her PhD which entailed the first scientific study on the effects of poi on physical and cognitive function. Kate currently resides in New Zealand, working with aged care facilities and other organizations worldwide to use poi as a tool for improving health.

Advisory team

William Orr

Rehabilitative Physiotherapist

William has been working as a Rehabilitative Physiotherapist for the past 15 years and is passionate about getting people moving and healthy. He completed a post graduate certificate in musculoskeletal physiotherapy at Auckland University of Technology and is a skilled assessor of movement dysfunction, helping people through all ages and stages of life to restore optimal function and live an active life. He is working with SpinPoi to utilize poi as a rehabilitative tool, engaging the body and mind to improve overall functional ability.

Cathy Stinear

Applied Clinical Neuroscientist

Associate Professor Cathy Stinear is the Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Medicine at the University of Auckland, and the Director of the Brain Research Clinic at the Centre for Brain Research. Her work focuses on translating neuroscience discoveries into clinical practice. Cathy supervised the first scientific study on poi, health, and older adults, and continues to play an important role in shaping subsequent poi/health research.

Orquidea Tamayo Mortera

Registered & Qualified Diversional Therapist

Orquidea is the National Diversional Therapist for Summerset and President of the New Zealand Society of Diversional & Recreational Therapists Inc. She works with people of all ages and abilities to design and implement recreation and leisure-based therapeutic programs which support, challenge and enhance psychological, spiritual, social, emotional and physical wellbeing. Orquidea advises SpinPoi’s work around using poi as a therapeutic intervention in aged care.   

Certified SpinPoi Instructors

Maria Niedermann
Uster, Switzerland
Janine Warne
New South Wales, Australia
Bruno Rubini
Auckland, New Zealand
Jamie Moore
United Kingdom
Kate Riegle van West
Auckland, New Zealand

get in touch

Email Kate (kate@spinpoi.com) or sign up for one of the mailing lists below to receive updates.​

Workshop/Lesson Updates

Enter your email to receive updates about upcoming poi workshops and lessons


General SpinPoi Updates

Enter your email to receive general updates about what SpinPoi is up to in the world of poi/health