Emotional start to 2022 for whānau as 10-month-old tests positive for Covid-19

updated By Heta Gardiner
Baby Kahutai's father, Hiawe Bercich, fought back tears explaining the situation.  Photo / File

It was a tough start to the year for a whānau living in Australia, when they were told on the evening of New Year's Day their 10-month-old baby Kahutai had tested positive for Covid-19.

“At first it hit us hard. It hit my wife really hard. She was really emotional straight away when receiving the text,” says Kahutai’s father, Hiawe Bercich, who also tested positive a few days after his son and wife Crystal. 

Now the whānau are self-isolating and, as well as managing the health of their son and themselves, there is also the financial burden that the current situation has left the family in.

“Everything initially, at first hit us really hard because that was all our main worry was, 'how can we maintain our food, do groceries, how can we maintain our rent?' You can’t go to mahi, can’t work, but bills don’t stop, aye.”

A situation made even harder being so far away from home, Hiawe fought back tears as he spoke about the difficulty of going through this situation in Newcastle, with his whānau back in New Zealand.

“It’s harder more so because there is not much of my family here, obviously with the old lady over there in NZ, and the majority of the family over there. It has impacted really hard because the ones that you feel that you need aren’t close enough to help. So what little messages that we receive have kept us happy.”

Hiawe and Crystal are both double vaxxed and are managing their symptoms. However, their big concern is for Kahutai, and while the support services did eventually reach out to them and provide the necessary support and information, it wasn’t immediate, which had the whānau feeling like they were left “in limbo”. 

“No matter what phone number we contacted or who we contacted - directly to local hospitals, local GP people, everything - we were always just transferred to someone else. It took just over 24 hours for anyone to get back to us.”

With the trying times ahead, Hiawe says maintaining a positive attitude is key, and he appreciates the support his whānau has received.

“We’re really thankful for whānau and family out there, and friends around here at Newcastle especially, who have extended that hand of help.”