Kiwi kids affected by parents addicted to methamphetamine share their stories

Brave children affected by the meth use of their mothers while pregnant share their story. Source: Sunday


Topics



Sister of Kiwi teen killed by mass murderer on Norwegian island makes emotional return

The sister of the Kiwi teenager killed by mass murderer Anders Breivik in Norway seven years ago has made an emotional return to the summer camp where her sister spent her last days.

Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn was one of 77 who died in the attack on Utoya Island in 2011.

Sharidyn's sister Savannah Svebakk-Bohn, 14, is now the same age her elder sister was when she was murdered when attending a Young Labour summer camp.

"I wanted to honour the fact if I go there, I will be honouring her staying there, her living, the fact she was happy for the few days that she was there," Savannah said.

Sharidyn was the youngest victim of Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in the mass terror attack.

The family moved home to the Bay of Plenty several years ago, where they planted a tree in Sharidyn's memory on Mount Maunganui.

Now back in Norway, they spoke to 1 NEWS via Skype about Savannah's decision to go back to the place her older sister had spent her last few days.

"They weren't sure that they would get me back and I thought that it was a difficult question to ask them but that it was necessary, important," she said.

Her mother, Vanessa Svebakk, said "we were all crying" but that they "understood it was important to her".

"As hard as it was for us to say yes, the decision at the end of the day had to be Savannah's," Ms Svebakk said.

Savannah asked her parents if she could attend the camp on what would have been Sharidyn's 21st birthday – and just days before the seventh anniversary of her death.

"Savannah's focus hasn't been on how her sister died, it has been on how Sharidyn lived, which is an inspiration for us as her parents."

Amongst the sadness, there was joy. Savannah said she had fun at the camp - playing games, making new friends and sleeping in the same camping area her sister did.

"I just thought that it was important to walk around a little bit. I felt that was my way of kind of coming to an understanding about what Sheridyn did," Savannah said.

Leaving her on the island overnight was extremely difficult for her parents - but now they say it was worth it.

"I don't think anyone would've been able to give us the gift. She brought everything full circle," Vanessa said.

"We lost a daughter there but we also got one home."

"It does give me happy memories but I don't think I can shake the feeling of knowing my sister was killed there. I can't ever feel completely at peace there, ever, because of what happened, but it's nice to know that what I did is to try honour her memory," Savannah said.

The family - who hope to one day move back to New Zealand - now say it may not be Savannah's last visit to the island.

Savannah Svebakk-Bonn, 14, is the same age her elder sister was when she was murdered while attending a Young Labour camp on Uttoya Island. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Man with Down syndrome turns down donation offers, just wants early access to KiwiSaver

Within minutes of his story going to air on 1 NEWS last night, a generous member of the public offered to help fund a trip to Italy for a man with Down Syndrome – a gesture which was appreciated but declined with thanks.

Tim Fairhall, 39, wants to use his KiwiSaver to visit his brother overseas while he's still in good health, but is unable to do so under current guidelines.

"Thank you for being so nice but this is my money," Mr Fairhall said.

His mother and carer, Joan Fairhall, said, "It's his. He's saved it and as soon as we can get access it, we can start planning the trip of his lifetime".

By the time Mr Fairhall is able to access the money at age 65, he will be "the equivalent of about 90", she said.

The family's call to allow Mr Fairhall to access to his KiwiSaver funds before his health deteriorates is supported by one of the country's leading tax experts.

Geof Nightingale, a PWC tax partner, says there are solutions, including simply widening the current KiwiSaver exemptions.

"Those regulations would be perhaps recommended by a minister - maybe in conjunction with the Retirement Commissioner - and that might say, 'Here's a special class of case we hadn't thought about that might allow for an early withdrawal,'" Mr Nightingale said.

The Government responded, saying, "KiwiSaver on the whole is working well and doing what it's designed to".

However, minister Kris Faafoi says that doesn't mean he is unsympathetic to Mr Fairhall's situation - or that there are no changes or improvements which can be made.

Mr Faafoi says he will respond to a letter he has received from Mr Fairhall's mother, and adds that the terms of reference for a three-yearly review of retirement income policies will be set by early December.

"We don't need any contributions, we don't need Give a Little or anything like that - we just need to be able to access his KiwiSaver," Ms Fairhall said.

Members of the public have offered money to help Tim Fairhall travel to visit his brother after access to his KiwiSaver money was denied. Source: 1 NEWS