When asked for insights gained through her research on children with a disability, Maree Kirk says, “See the child first!” Maree initially started studying to find ways to best support her 21 year old son Spencer. However, it’s a path which eventually steered her towards an academic career, with her Masters degree focusing on wellbeing for children with a disability in New Zealand.
For Ngaire Booth, the most challenging aspect of being a carer is the sense of isolation that it brings. Going through the pain of seeing her once energetic husband’s decline over the last 22 years from Parkinson’s disease has been profound. She says this isolation can be devastating, and solutions need to be tackled through policy change.
Meletilini Logan first formed a strong bond with Jeannette Queensell-Logan when she was a few months old, however she feared the tiny baby wouldn’t make it through the night. Although she’d met Jeannette a few times previous to this, this was the first time Mele had stayed up all night with her.
When Kailey Spicer became a carer for her Mum, who has Huntington’s Disease, the young former brand manager at a large company had zero experience of her new role ahead.
In 1997 Diane Vivian and her husband Erin took on the full-time care of their two grandchildren. When she looked around for support, she found none.
It’s a memorable image, and a powerful one: Dunedin mum Sandra Jones decked out in an orange fluoro suit holding a large sign reading “crime doesn't pay, caregiving doesn't either" in Dunedin’s Octagon. She was one of the battlers in the struggle for family carers to be paid - something which ultimately resulted in the Funded Family Care payment.
I never met the iconic social and women's rights campaigner Sonja Davies, but she played an important role in the development of New Zealand's carer movement and the national charitable trust that is now Carers NZ.
Sonja died in 2005, years after I contacted her when, as a family carer living in rural Northland, I felt dismayed by the lack of help for people like me.
On the day the PM announced her pregnancy, a letter pinged into Carers NZ's inbox from her office.
It was her statement of support for She Cares, supporting and celebrating our country's women family caregivers.
Keri didn’t grow up with her Dad, but when she ran into him as an adult, the former rest home caregiver knew he needed her help.
“I bumped into him in Wellington and all my experience with caring and servicing people kicked into place after seeing the way he was living and being treated,” the 51-year-old says. “And so began my journey looking after my Dad.”