Wairoa community calls for help dealing with meth epidemic

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Meth is taking its toll on the community of Wairoa, where grandmothers are now taking it upon themselves to care for their grandchildren. 

The questions is, who is supporting them?

Wikitoria Hauraki says tamariki are being cared for by “the grandparents, aunties, uncles, because the parents are either in jail, on P, or can't look after them.  There's nothing there for support for them.”

Ratima Hauraki says, “There's...nothing set up here in Wairoa to help, not only the parents but also the whānau looking after the tamariki, or even helping the parents that are addicted to meth.”

Local community groups say many parents who are hooked on meth are neglecting their children.

Speaking of one grandparent, Ngaire Culshaw says, "She's got her mokopuna because the daughter in-law's whole family- the parents, the grandparents, all of them- to them it's natural to do P in the house so, these little babies..."

“If a mother takes meth, if a father takes meth, who's feeding the child?  That's our biggest concern, who's changing that nappy, who's doing their bottle?"

A marae trustee and caretaker, Wikitoria Hauraki says users are also stealing from the marae, everything from food to soap and toilet paper.

“That's the level of what people are, your toilet paper, your dish wash, your pot scrubs, if they can take all that, it means they got more money in their benefit for their drug habit...that's the reality of it and people saying it doesn't happen there, they're lying, it does."

Hauraki says some of the grandparents are reluctant to ask anyone for help in fear that their grandchildren might be taken away by Oranga Tamariki.

“They need to have a break because a lot of these kids do have developmental issues like ADHD, Autism, so there's nothing even here for the children, to help with their learning abilities and developments.  There's also nothing here for those caregivers, to have a timeout for them.”

The anti-meth advocates are now looking at ways to develop a community-led solution.