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Hamilton woman raising 10 grandchildren on her own 'overwhelmed' as donations flood in

A grandmother of 10 who quit her job and moved from Blenheim to Hamilton to care for the children has had a helping hand from the community to settle in.

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Martine gave a house tour to show off all the furniture, food and firewood she was gifted. Source: Supplied

Martine, who didn't want her surname published, said she's still emotional and overwhelmed at the donations she's received.

The solo grandparent now has five grandchildren - aged 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10 - in her care full time, as well as five others in her home every other week. One of the children is non-verbal and autistic and others have behavioural issues.

"It was either this or have the children split up and go into foster homes so I thought I've got to do it for the children and my daughter," Martine told 1 NEWS.

However, during the fast transition she said she hadn't had much help from Government agencies.

Thankfully, not-for-profit group Kids In Need Waikato had gone above and beyond to help her new life in the North Island.

The group's organiser, Linda Roil, was called upon to set the kids up with the basics like hair brushes and toothbrushes, but Martine, who has been helped into social housing, said when she arrived it was empty.

"To be confronted with an empty house must have been devastating," Ms Roil told 1 NEWS.

Some donated beds, toys and books for the children. Source: Supplied

Kids In Need called for donations on Facebook and before long hundreds of people had offered belongings - 10 beds, firewood, a television and clothes.

"The response was so awesome. It was hard to keep a tab on who wanted to donate what. I myself was feeling very overwhelmed but that was a happy problem," Ms Roil said.

Martine said she and the children now have everything they need thanks to the group.

"I've been balling my eyes out all the time, they've made my home now."

She said she would have got there on her own but it would've taken a long time to accumulate the belongings.

"This is for the children, they need to be in a sound environment. I wouldn't be able to do it without them," she added.

"For me and the kids it's very emotional, very overwhelming.

"If it wasn't for Kids In Need I'd be lucky to have a bed for the kids. I'd have nothing in the home and not as much kai."

Martine was donated a table and chairs, as well as clothes for the children. Source: Supplied

Martine is like many though.

"I take my hat off to these grandparents and offer ongoing support with clothing etc, including get-togethers so they can support each other," Ms Roil said.

"I get many requests to supply care packs for the children as they often arrive with very little, sometimes with just what they are wearing.

Ms Roil also works alongside Grandparents Raising Grandchildren NZ and often attends their meetings.

Pat Davis, who runs meetings for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in the Hamilton area, told 1 NEWS raising children again can be a shock for many, and grandparents don't get the same entitlements as foster carers.

"It's hard," he said, adding that members face many challenges, including their own physical health, managing children's trauma,  financial pressure, and anxiety and stress of going through the court system and dealing with Government agencies.

"Our health concerns become second fiddle to the children," he said.

"Many saving for retirement are using their family nest egg to fight for these children, to care and keep the children together."

National membership from 2019 to 2020 has increased 17 per cent to now over 7500 members, involving about 15,000 grandchildren.

The organisation runs monthly meetings throughout the country, from Kaitaia to Bluff, as well as providing specialised knowledge and skills to assist caregivers around education, training and other critical information.

Mr Davis said there are about 250 members in his area, of which they get up to 60 attending the meetings each month.

"It's essential, we're talking about mental health issues as much as anything. Having these meetings allows people walking their journey walk with others on their journey."

Kids In Need Waikato Charitable Trust has a Givealittle page set up for people to help others in need.

Some bunk beds for the children. Source: Supplied