Verokura (Vero) Andrew and her grandmother Mama Tapu Andrew. 20121134
The decision to leave her job and look after her grandparents was easy for Verokura Andrew and she quickly realised that to care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honours.
2004, Verokura (Vero) Andrew left her job to take care of her grandfather Temata
Andrew who had suffered a stroke and needed round the clock care.
He passed away two years later at the age of 79.
But she continued to stay home to look after her grandmother
Tapumanoanoa Andrew (nee Tinirau), affectionately known as Mama Tapu, who is 91-years
Born on April 2, 1982, Vero was raised by her mother Mia
and grandparents, until her mother moved to Hawaii with her husband Dave
Thomson (former maire exporters).
She attended Arorangi Primary and Tereora College
until New Zealand School Certificate (NZSC).
Vero says the decision to stay home and take on the
responsibility of caring for her grandfather was easy.
“I had to leave work, there was only myself and my
brother (working) and our grandparents at home.”
The biggest challenges she faced was learning how to
take care of him, as half his body was paralysed.
“We were in hospital for a solid month, learning how
to take care of him, learning how to feed, bathe and turn him over every two
Papa Temata was bedridden for two years and there were
many days Vero found difficult.
“But in my mind, I always thought of it as a lesson
and it would always have purpose although at the time it was not that clear;
and I knew there was something important I would learn.
“I quickly realised that to care for those who once
cared for us is one of the highest honours; no paper, degree or bachelor could
compare to that.”
Tapu rises every morning at 3 or 4am and turns the light on - her time for
devotion, she reads well with glasses.
Kai tea (breakfast) ensues, a nap about 9am followed
by her favourite hobby of the art of sewing tivaivai.
Great grandchildren stop in for visits, when they
leave the quiet settles in again.
The family are devoted Apostolic Church members.
“Mama loves church,” Vero says.
The home groups in the village of Arorangi meet at
their home on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“She is ready and sits on the veranda at 5pm waiting
for the start at 7pm…”
Come Sunday, Mama Tapu is dressed and ready for church
at 8.30am, although the service does not start until 10am.
“We leave home at 9 o’clock so we are not rushing, we settle
her in her seat before church starts.
“She feels like she’s in a movie when people watch
her, that’s why we get there early.”
Mama Tapu is diabetic and has heart problems and Vero
ensures she takes her daily medication.
A close friend of the family believes Mama Tapu does
not suffer from amnesia because of the loving care she gets from Vero.
“Vero is always with Mama 24/7, entertaining and keeping
Mama busy with their tivaivai sewing.
“It’s a mystery but a blessing for Mama to still be alert
and focused, amen to that.”
Bishop Tutai Pere acknowledges Vero’s devout
commitment saying, “your most precious lifetime treasure – your beloved grandparents
– the late Papa Temata and Mama Tapu Andrew.”
“Just as Jesus spoke from his cross, with great agony
and dying breath in John 19: 26 & 27 said thus: ‘When Jesus therefore saw
his mother, and disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother,
Woman, behold thy son”! 27, Then said he to the disciple, behold thy mother!
And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
“Ephesians 6:1-3 says: ‘Children, obey your parents in
the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first
commandment with promise. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live
long on the earth’.”
year marks 29 years since Vero gave her life to Jesus at the age of nine, when
she and her brother were baptised.
“I was not given a choice at the time because we lived
and were brought up by our grandparents, so whatever Papa said, goes,” she says.
“My life as a born again child of God was guided and
nourished by loving grandparents who wanted only the best for us.
“We were taught and expected to obey every command and
requirement both from the word and from our Papa and Mama.
“I thank God for them both who had grounded me in God.”
Vero wants younger people to remember and respect their
parents/grandparents, “because they were with you at a young age”.
“So, don’t leave them when they are old.”
In 2019 Mama Tapu experienced a serious health scare.
Vero knew what to do.
She knew how to change an adult’s nappy, to feed a
helpless person, to make her happy, when to talk and when to just let her sing
aloud, no matter what time of the night it was.
“I learned to pray no matter what the outcome, and to
always be thankful.”
It has been 16 years for Vero as a full time carer and
she says there is nothing she would have done differently if she had the chance
Vero believes everything that happens in life has
purpose and reason.
“God knows our past and future, from the day we were
born right up to now; the Lord has blessed us with the strength to keep holding
on and keep caring for our mama.”
“The elderly need someone to look after them, for
their daily meds, doctor’s appointments, transportation, cleaning, cooking,
laundry, bathing…these are duties that I gladly do for my mama, daily.”
She has a message for children and grandchildren.
“Your parents don’t owe you anything and they are
getting older with each passing day. They will not be here forever. Instead of thinking
they are a constant source of stress and drama, we should be the ones
lightening the load for them; they have already done their jobs of raising us,”
“It’s time to grow up. Look after your parents and
visit your grandparents, make time to visit them, call, text or video call; offer
to mow their lawn, cook for them, take them out.”
The worst feeling isn’t being lonely... it’s being
forgotten, Vero says.
“So many of our elderly population are forgotten about
or disregarded. One day we will all be where they are, is this how we want to
“Our elderly deserve to be honoured and respected.”
believes Mama Tapu is living a long life because she has been an obedient child
and through the constant prayers of the saints.
“The loving and attentive care of our spiritual dad
Bishop Pere has also been our strength; my family, near and far that also look
out for us, I thank all of them for the support. And last but not least, my God
who when I need someone is there, thank you God for loving me to love Mama.”
Taking their photograph, Mama Tapu insists Vero sits
“I’m Mama Tapu’s sidekick,” Vero says with a laugh.