Oz-based Māori mum touched by NZ aroha for son

By Kelvin McDonald
Tyson and mum Laura Lawrence. Photo/Supplied.

A Māori mum in Australia who is raising a child with high-care needs and his four sisters on her own is emotional that whānau back home in Aotearoa would care about her son's needs.

Perth mum Laura Lawrence (Te Rarawa) is mum to 3 1/2 year-old Tyson, who has high-care needs as a result of a stroke he suffered at birth which left his brain starved of oxygen.

Tyson suffered a stroke at birth which starved his brain of oxygen. Photo/Supplied.

"We were...told that Tyson may not survive and to be prepared for his passing," she says, "Fortunately for us, Tyson fought hard and is still with us today and I'm happy to say he is thriving at everything the best he can."

Tyson was left with an extensive array of health issues that are a daily challenge for his full-time caregiver mum.

"Due to the stroke Tyson has been diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, spastic and dyskinetic quadriplegia, global development delay, left-sided hearing loss...cerebral vision impairment, gross and fine motor skill delay, aspiration risk and scoliosis risk- Tyson is non-verbal and wheelchair-bound," she says.

Tyson receives a kihi from sister Indi. Photo/Supplied.

Lawrence says the stress surrounding Tyson's birth placed a huge strain on the family and ultimately left her carrying the full weight of responsibility for the care of the whānau. 

"As you could imagine, the news shook our family pretty heavily which led to a major breakdown in the family home, leaving myself to care for, not only Tyson and his high-care needs, but also his four older sisters."

Tyson with his big sisters. Hunter, Kiara (nursing Tyson), Indi and Lani. Photo/Supplied.

Lawrence's daughters Indi (7), Hunter (13), Lani (16) and Kiara (18) were all born in Australia.

It's a struggle for Lawrence to support her whānau financially but she's fortunate that she's lived in the country for 20-plus years and is eligible for Australian government assistance.

"It is quite hard.  I'm on the single parent payment obviously and I just get carer's payments and that's sort of how I get by with my son."

Due to the extent of Tyson's health needs, there isn't any realistic opportunity for Lawrence to find outside work. 

"I don't work, I'm unable to work at the moment because of his high-care needs, although he has just started kindy this year three days a week."  

"But still, trying to find a job in those days is a bit tricky because he has appointments as well.  So I have to leave it free for him whenever it comes up.  Then I've just got to go."

Tyson's mum has set up a GoFundMe page to help buy a new vehicle to transport him. Photo/Supplied.

Recently, Lawrence set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for a vehicle to transport Tyson. 

"My son's physiotherapist, she suggested that I start a GoFundMe page to raise funds to put towards a new vehicle.  She said there were a few families that had success through that so I thought I'd just try it out and give it a shot." 

The whānau's current vehicle needs repairs and isn't suitable for Tyson's wheelchair. 

"Our current car is on its last legs which I cannot afford to fix nor have modifications done to give my son the proper access into the vehicle, without having to physically lift him in and out of his wheelchair and into the car," says Lawrence.

"We are in need of a vehicle that is newer and eligible for funding to have modifications done for wheelchair access which would make life a little less stressful."

Lawrence says the family need a reliable vehicle that can get Tyson to appointments and transport the whānau around the city. 

"We have numerous appnts (sic) every week from hospital to therapy sessions and this year Tyson will be starting kindy, so we're hoping to raise enough funds to put towards a new car so that I can get him to all his appnts, school and those special family outings without any stress and worry." 

So far, Lawrence has raised almost $4,000 towards her $15,000 target.

"Just to have you reach out to me from home is really 'wow' ... I never thought that would happen."  Photo/Supplied.

When approached by Te Kāea about her fundraising efforts, Lawrence said she was touched that people from home in Aotearoa would care about her son's needs.  

"I shared it on the Maoris (sic) in Perth page but haven't had much response.  For me, the families back home are always pretty supportive with this sort of thing," she says.

"Just to have you reach out to me from home is really 'wow'. It's really cool, I didn't think that would happen but...I am just really taken aback by it.  I just feel- I don't know- It's just amazing.  Someone from home just reached out, so it's really cool, I never thought that would happen." 

Lawrence says any support however small will be greatly received, even just letting others know about their situation.

"Any donation whether it be big or small or even just sharing this post will be greatly appreciated by our family and as Tyson's mum I'd like to thank you all so much for reading his short story."   

Click here to support Tyson.