Life is slowly returning to normal for one Flaxmere family who were thrown into turmoil when 5-year-old Kayzah-Shae Wairama was hit by a car as he played at the end of his mother's driveway.
Kayzah-Shae was flown to Starship Hospital in Auckland after the August 13 accident, where he received treatment for serious head injuries.
The driver handed himself into police two days later and appeared in court last week where he pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to stop and ascertain injury.
Kayzah-Shae's grandmother, Lovey Orlowski, brought her brave young grandson to visit Hawke's Bay Today newsroom yesterday and said she wanted to let everyone know he is doing well. Her grandson returned to Hawke's Bay last Thursday after a four-week stint in Auckland.
He was initially treated at Starship Children's Hospital where he was placed in an induced coma and had surgery to ease swelling on his brain, before being transferred to the Wilson Rehabilitation Centre.
"As soon as he was able to, they focused on physiotherapy and treating his eyes, which have become a little bit crossed."
Both of Kayzah-Shae'sparents made the trip up to Auckland to be with their son during his recovery, staying at the Ronald McDonald house and later at motels near the hospital.
"It has been a very stressful time for them. They have four other young children who were taken to Australia to be looked after by my daughter's sister-in- law so they could concentrate on Kayzah-Shae,"said Ms Orlowski.
Kayzah-Shae and his father flew home together last week while Ms Orlowski's daughter, Melanie Shillingford, went to Australia to collect the other children.
Ms Orlowski said Kayzah-Shae is happy to be home and is looking forward to returning to school at Flaxmere Primary when he is feeling fit enough.
"He is really missing his friends and wants to see his teacher, but we're not going to rush him. We don't want to over-work his brain. He still has appointments at the hospital here he will have to attend too."
Ms Orlowski said she has noticed a couple of changes in her grandson following his return home but said she and his doctors are hopeful he will make a full recovery over time.
"He does have a little bit of a twitch now that I notice especially when he's sleeping, and it's slowed him down a bit. He used to always want to run everywhere, to get outside and play but now he's happy just to play with his toys inside.
"His speech is better than before the accident though, he used to slur his words a bit but he doesn't anymore."
She said the past few months have been tough on the family, especially her daughter Melanie who had only just returned from hospital with her baby girl when Kayzah-Shae was hit by the car.
"She did have a few moments where she more or less wanted to give up. She didn't know what to do."
Ms Orlowski wanted to thank Henare O'Keefe for his help in getting her daughter to Auckland to be with Kayzah-Shae, and said he even went as far as to hire a van for them all to go up together. She said her daughter is hoping to move house when she returns from Australia with the rest of the children.
"She hates being in that house. She won't go to the end of the driveway to get the mail because she can still hear her son's screams, there are still skid marks on the road."
The family have been following court proceedings regarding the driver of the car, Joshua Watson.
Ms Orlowski said she is satisfied that he handed himself in and wanted to thank the police for keeping her and the rest of the family up-to-date.
She said her daughter wanted to attend Watson's sentencing on October 23.
"It's just not fair that he's still driving around, he's on bail driving around in a different car."
Ms Orlowski said despite the stress of the last month, support from family and from the community have kept them going. "I've got seven children, 34 grandchildren and 10 greats and they are all still around in Flaxmere and Hastings. That's what has kept me going. We also want to thank Henare O'Keefe and his wife, and their supporters. They were an amazing help getting my daughter up to Auckland to concentrate on her son."
She said Kayzah-Shae is very lucky and she is "so so happy" to have him home. "Just about losing him was incredibly scary. He's a very lucky boy. We are so blessed that he is still here."