There were many times when Whanganui mum Carrissa Brown thought her "positive, amazing, confident" son Te Awanui was so badly injured he would die.

The feisty 10-year-old fell down a steep bank on Durie Hill, cracking his head.

He was rushed to Whanganui's emergency department but his chances did not look good as his skull was fractured and there was bleeding on his brain.

"My whole soul was torn from me," said Brown as she recalled those horrific times when her son was in an induced coma.


But after seven days Te Awanui responded to treatment and mum is ecstatic that he is likely to make a full recovery.

Brown, Te Awanui, his two brothers and cousins were on a jaunt round the the Whanganui bridges on June 3 when they came to the Durie Hill steps.

Te Awanui left his bike in Anzac Parade and raced off up the steps wearing his helmet. That helmet may have saved his life.

On the way down he ducked under a railing, thinking to walk down the slope, but he slipped on wet grass and fell down a steep bank, cracking his head as he went.

His mother saw him disappear and, hearing a second "big smash", she stood on the steps and screamed.

Two people walking down the hill — "angels from heaven", Brown calls them — saw Te Awanui lying on the road with blood leaking out of the back of his head.

One called the ambulance, while the other did some reiki healing on the boy. He was moving in and out of consciousness as they waited frantically for the ambulance.

The two were taken straight to the emergency department, where she stayed with him.

Mum Carrissa Brown is relieved her 10-year-old son Te Awanui is still alive. With them is dog Nala. Photo / Stuart Munro Whanganui Chronicle
Mum Carrissa Brown is relieved her 10-year-old son Te Awanui is still alive. With them is dog Nala. Photo / Stuart Munro Whanganui Chronicle

"The doctors and nurses were working frantically around him, and I was just thinking, 'Thank God'. There was nothing more that they could have done."

Te Awanui was put into an induced coma, and a CT scan found his skull was fractured and there was bleeding in his brain. A neurosurgeon was available in Wellington, and by sunset mother and son were being flown there in a helicopter.

They found a surgical team waiting, and Te Awanui was taken straight into theatre where a triangular piece of his skull was removed. After that he was in intensive care, hooked up to machines and in a coma for a week.

After five days, nurses tried bringing him out, but he didn't respond. It was the same on day six, despite his mother singing karakia and doing karanga to call him back.

On the seventh day he did respond and, after a day, the machines were removed and he was moved to the children's ward.

His mother stayed in nearby Ronald McDonald House. It didn't cost her anything and she says people were amazingly kind.

Next the two were flown to Auckland, where they spent a month living at the Wilson Centre for children with brain injuries.

Then it was back to Whanganui, with both nervous about how they would cope with ordinary life.

Mum says Te Awanui is easily tired and annoyed, has a short attention span but is now even more of a risk-taker. He has a scar on his scalp covered by hair, but otherwise looks the same as ever.

He has a caregiver with him constantly from Monday to Friday, paid for by ACC, and now goes to his Kai Iwi School for an hour twice a week — and comes away "zonked".

Brown has not yet been able to resume her Kaha Ra Mirimiri massage practice, or making and selling kawakawa rongoā remedies, but she is delighted Te Awanui continues to make fast progress.

His Wellington doctor expects him to make a 100 per cent recovery — and now his mum expects the same.

Most of all, Carrissa Brown is grateful to everyone who has helped along the way.

"When you need help, it's there ... and then some," she said.

A Givealittle page has raised about $4500 to help the family.