SpinPoi is a social enterprise dedicated to improving health and wellbeing through poi. We support individuals and organizations across the globe with our evidence-based programs, specializing in improving quality of life for seniors. We have been featured across international media including BBC World News, ABC News, TVNZ, Radio New Zealand, and Maori Television.
SpinPoi was founded by Dr. Kate Riegle van West, a scientist, artist, and entrepreneur with a passion for play and wellbeing. Kate completed her PhD in the health benefits of poi at the University of Auckland, where she conducted the first study to scientifically investigate the effects of poi on physical and cognitive function. She was awarded the Future Leader Award from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Best Doctoral Thesis Award for her work in the poi/health field.
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.
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Our Advisory Team
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.
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.