Grandparents fight for grandchild to have normal life

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

They fought for her custody, now they're fighting for her education. Grandparents Paige Jordan and Michael Gower have taken full-time care of their granddaughter, who they say has been discriminated against.

Jordan (Te Aitanga-a-Mate, Te Atiawa ki Pōneke) says, “It's hard- I'm not going to lie and say it's not hard but she's ours she belongs to us and we love her very much.”

Jordan has been asked to take her daughter out of her daycare centre due to an incident with another child.

“We just felt that the lack of management being up-front with us, with the whole process of how it all happened it's just left us in a bit of a pickle really,” says Jordan.

Manager at House of Wonder in Gisborne, Sherryll Markie-Brookes says, "It is our obligation to ensure fair and equitable outcomes for all learners.  Our staff have gone above and beyond to ensure this has been happening.  We have been in frequent communication with Ms Jordan and the Ministry of Education."

Kapohanga has been diagnosed with an attachment disorder, is clinically deaf and has behavioural issues.  Her grandparents secured custody from the mother, who is incarcerated.

Jordan says, “It's not because they're a bad kid, they come with a story, they have a story why they might be feeling that way so it's just a little bit of empathy and compassion.”

The Ministry of Education are working with the family to find an inclusive education setting for Kapohanga next year, but only seven hours of care is funded at primary school level.

“We've been fighting for her before she even came into our world and we're going to keep on fighting until I go out,” says Jordan.

The focus will shift to finding appropriate primary school education for their grandchild next year.

Should you wish to support the cause, a Givealittle page has been set up to support Kapohanga a Rangi.