Caregivers just can't stop

17:00, Aug 08 2012
Caregivers Heather and James Tuhoro
A MILESTONE: Heather and James Tuhoro with foster child Jordan McNally, 21, and great granddaughter Rerenga Mai Piwakawaka-May, 2.

A Hamilton couple's remarkable contribution as caregivers for Child Youth and Family has been recognised.

Heather and James Tuhoro, both 69, have been caregivers for Child Youth and Family since 1997 and three months ago number 501 walked through the door.

Yesterday, the couple were thrown a surprise ceremony by CYF to mark that milestone.

It's a job they both stumbled into. At age 50, they moved from Auckland to Hamilton.

"We were told we were too old to work . . . So we found something else to do," Mrs Tuhoro said.

A friend suggested caregiving - although Mr Tuhoro thought they meant for adults.


When he arrived at the training, he was pleased to find out they'd be looking after children.

Since then their modest, four-bedroom Chartwell home has provided a haven for hundreds of children.

The couple have two daughters of their own, nine grandchildren and almost nine great grandchildren, but they say those 501 other children are also part of their family.

While some only stayed for a short time, others stayed for as long as 12 years.

Yesterday, 21-year-old Jordan McNally thanked the Tuhoros for taking him in at age 11.

"It was pretty tough. I remember crying that first night," he said.

"Heather said: ‘Don't worry, everything will be alright' and everything has been alright ever since."

He stayed in their official care till age 17, but then decided to board there.

"I was pretty lucky to have been put into their care, not everyone has that opportunity."

Mr McNally, now doing an engineering apprenticeship, said Mr Tuhoro was "his dad".

The Tuhoros reckon patience is crucial in raising foster children.

They are not ready to give up yet.

"We just love it too much."

Waikato Times