Love at first sight as Qian meets big sister

By Maggie McNaughton

The half-sister of 3-year-old Qian Xun Xue - dubbed Little Pumpkin - has spoken of the overwhelming love she felt when she saw her for the first time yesterday.

Grace Xue, 27, met her new-found sister and her sister's grandmother Xiao Ping Liu, who lives in China, at two meetings in Auckland yesterday to discuss who would have custody of the little girl.

"Obviously I'm still a stranger to her. Today is the first time she has seen my face. She is a very beautiful, innocent, loving child ... I just fell in love with her immediately," said Ms Xue, who lives in Auckland.

She described how her sister played with her 1-year-old son Edward and gave her a picture she had drawn.

"She gave me a drawing, which I'm going to keep ... it was a typical kid's drawing, flowers ... I gave her a greenstone tiki-twist. It represents that two life forms are bound for eternity and I just hope that no matter where she is going to be, New Zealand is still going to be part of her life forever," she said as she fought back tears.

She wouldn't disclose where her sister would live, but was confident she would play a part in her life. She said a formal decision would be made at a court hearing on Thursday.

"I had a very positive meeting with them today and I will be playing a part in my sister's life," she said. "Just as to who will assume the guardianship of Qian Xun Xue is due to be formally determined. But, as I have always said, this is not going to be a contentious issue. I have left the meetings today confident I will develop a loving relationship with my little sister and I'm confident her well-being will be taken care of.

"My 1-year-old son and my sister were starting to destroy each other's items they were playing with, which was very sweet to watch."

Qian Xun was abandoned at a Melbourne train station by their fugitive father Nai Yin Xue after he allegedly murdered the child's mother, An An Liu.

Qian Xun has been in the custody of Child, Youth and Family since her arrival last week from Australia.

She said she admired the courage and strength of Xiao Liu and it was easy for them to agree on things: "I have great love for my little sister and her grandmother and I want to make sure I'm here to support them both."

The first meeting was an informal one between the family, while the second was official and involved Child, Youth and Family.

She said her sister seemed well cared for and happy.

"Obviously there may be deeper issues that we still need to address."

Ms Xue, who said her father walked out of her life two months after they arrived in New Zealand and that she had previously suffered mild abuse from him, again asked her father to turn himself into police.

"If he's listening I ask you to come forward and contact the police."

Ms Xue also commented on the internet backlash she has faced for establishing the Little Pumpkin Trust, with many people saying she is money-hungry and has no reason for wanting to help a child she doesn't know.

But she restated that the trust was solely to help care for abandoned children in New Zealand and Australia.

"I want nothing out of this trust. My support for the trust is unconditional and I ask, please give it yours."

Ms Xue has received legal advice saying comments on websites can be defamatory, but said she was unlikely to take legal action.

"No matter what you do, there are always going to be different voices," she said. "People usually see the world from their own eyes and because of different experiences, different cultural environments.

"It's not really anybody's fault that somebody will come to conclusions. That's really all I can do - do what I think is the best and what I think is the right thing to do at this moment."

She said she was coping reasonably well with the ordeal surrounding a sister she did not know she had until last week but that it had been emotional.

"I really appreciate the support from my neighbours, from my friends and family," she said.

"Also, I really appreciate the public support and other members of the trust."

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