A fish market in Sydney hardly sounds like the place to contract a speaker for your child friendly cities forum in Napier, but that's the way it was when veteran social justice campaigner Pat Magill met Australian battler Helen Eason.
A month after the unusual deal was done, Eason, with two of her children and her mother in tow, spoke at the Napier Pilot City Trust's Child Friendly Day on Wednesday.
Also on the programme was the Minister for Children and of Education, Tracey Martin.
It marked the end of the trust's 30th Unity Walk and week commemorations, and the 30th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The meeting wasn't just between two passersby in a busy fish market, for Magill is a 93-year-old retired Napier businessman who has battled for social justice reform for half his life.
Eason, half his age, is emerging from being part of some of Australia's worst statistics.
She's an Aboriginal mum who three times had children removed from her care by welfare authorities, emerging as a survivor, a victor and now a campaigner.
"I had 16 years in the system," says the founder of Sydney-based Nelly's Healing Centre, billed as a holistic support service for Aboriginal women and their families she says were cast-out by a system that never catered for them, their needs, or their children.
"I got them back, I won."
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Mother Hazel founded Grandmothers Against Removals, which has targeted adoption legislation seen as a default mechanism for permanent separation of children from their families, and their Aboriginal culture.
She says the fish-market meeting happened when friends asked if she would meet Magill, who was in Australia for a conference.
She said she met him, and listened only a few minutes when she decided a transtasman trip was clearly the next step.
Much of it was about Magill's hopes of the Napier City Council declaring Napier a Child Friendly City, to ensure the interests of children are considered in all policy and decisions affecting the future of the city.
Eason says: "I thought, I've got to be there. We need to share, we need to learn from each other. We need to fight this together."
She says that what she's learned made New Zealand sound so familiar, another place where indigenous culture had been targeted over the years, marginalising the people and particularly impacting on mothers, children and family wellbeing.
She had heard stories and testimony of the same cycles, removals taking place without appropriate intervention, and with a lack of supporting evidence, amid falsified affidavits often not even seen by the subjects of them, and traps widened by minimal access to legal information and representation.
She said that had ultimately led to the despairing consequences of losing a child, which she says often departmentally evolve into reasons used to justify the action.
"It all sounds so familiar," she says.
"I've always wanted to work with them. I did all the programmes. Some of them I did three times. They never wanted to work with us."
Mayor Kirsten Wise also spoke at Wednesday's forum, which was held in Napier's MTG Century Theatre.