Farewelling Liz - caregiver extraordinaire

Published: May 21, 2024

Oranga Tamariki Caregiver Recruitment and Support, Adoption and Care & Protection kaimahi gathered at Grey Lynn site on Wednesday 15 May to thank and farewell one of their caregiving whānau.

Photo of Charlotte Liz sitting together on a sofa taken on Mothers Day 2024
Mother and daughter – Liz and Charlotte, celebrating Mother’s Day 2024.

Liz has provided transitional care for 209 tamariki over the past 28 years, and at 68 years of age she has decided to retire from caregiving.

“It’s been quite a ride,” Liz said, and one she couldn’t have done without the support of her family.

“It’s taken a year to get to this decision, reminiscing about some of the children who’ve come through our home, the fun we’ve had with a lot of them, trauma at times because their needs have been so huge, but then the joy of seeing the difference from when they arrive to when they leave - that has been the blessing.”

Liz’s longest placement was for 7 years. That baby is now 23 years old and still keeps in contact with Liz and her whānau.

Long days and nights

Adoption Supervisor Karen de Wit spoke of the impact Liz and her whānau have had on parents, adoptive parents, social workers, and most of all babies.

“So many of them are now adults, the intergenerational impact cannot be understated – the impact will last forever.”

Many of the tamariki Liz has cared for have had significant medical needs, requiring all the knowledge and skills Liz gained from training at First Aid, CPR, Early Bird, Autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Brain Trust and Life Story courses.

“The days are long, the years are short, and Liz as a caregiver knows that more than anybody, caring for babies around the clock,” Karen said.

Farewell Liz sign
Caregiver Recruitment and Support, Adoption and Care & Protection kaimahi hosted a farewell morning tea for Liz at Oranga Tamariki Grey Lynn site.

Aroha, manaakitanga and service

Thanking Liz for her aroha and service, General Manager Care Janet Smart said, “Caregivers are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Thank you for making the world a better place and thank you to Liz’s family for sharing her.”

Janet also acknowledged the Caregiver Recruitment and Support team who have supported Liz over the years and how important that teamwork is.

Liz’s current Caregiver Social Worker Lisa O’Neill recalled their first meeting, for an adoption placement, around 15 years ago. “It was a cold, rainy day. Liz’s home was warm and welcoming, it smelt like cheese scones, and Liz was ready to welcome this newborn baby with really high needs into her home,” Lisa said.

Liz has received recognition and accolades including a Queens Service Medal for caregiving (2011) and an Excellence in Foster Care Award (2013). She was nominated for New Zealander of the Year in 2018 and received Certificates for Local Hero of the Year and Senior of the Year.

A fond whānau farewell

Liz’s daughter Charlotte and fellow caregivers were also guests at the farewell morning tea.

In sharing how grateful she has been for all the support she’s received, Liz said “It’s not only the babies you care for. It’s the journey you travel with those babies, families, fellow caregivers - people you meet on the way. They’re the people you can talk to because they’re travelling the same journey, doing the same thing.

Thank you for entrusting me to care for your babies, I’ll never forget this, and I hope I’ve served you well.”

Liz was presented with leaving gifts representing growth and new beginnings, “the new beginnings you’ve given tamariki, and now, a new beginning for you, Charlotte and your whānau,” said Adoption Social Worker Alix Berry-Smith.