"Living with dementia" videos make 78-year koro a Tik Tok star

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Jayden Kingi has gained over 45,000 followers on Tik Tok after posting a series of videos of his 78-year-old koro Jim Kingi who lives with severe dementia.

Kingi (Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) has been a primary caregiver of his koro since 2020 and started his social media posts two months ago.

“My partner posted a video of me and Pāpā dancing in the shed and that just got a lot of aroha and comments from people who can relate to our situation, and then we just carried on with how we were living from there,” says Kingi.

Almost 70,000 New Zealanders live with dementia and Māori dementia rates will more than double by 2050.

Many sufferers are in residential homes. However, the decision to look after his koro was an easy decision, says James.

“I wasn’t dropping anything major to come and help.”

Before having severe dementia, Kingi remembers his koro as a hard worker, a loving man and “all about whānau.”

But some memories are lost forever.

“He was a builder by trade, and he was also in the army but we don’t have too many stories about that. He said he would tell us when he got older, but obviously he can’t anymore.”  

Kingi is constantly inundated with emails and direct messages of love and support from his followers around the world.

"It's hard to keep up with them. But it’s really beautiful," he says.