By ALAN PERROTT
The adoption of Kahurautete by Donna Hall and Eddie Durie followed a long-standing family pledge.
Ms Hall said yesterday that 8-month-old Kahu was born at the couple's Lower Hutt home with the intention of being "placed" with them by her whanau to help make up for the loss of a previous child.
"Four and a half years ago, we lost a child to spina bifida at seven and a half months in the pregnancy," she said.
"At the time that happened, I thought the world had ended. My mother and my family said if we ever had another child in the family she would be given, or placed, with us. Last year God gave my family Kahurautete. That's our baby, that's how she came to us."
The child's birth mother is Anaha Morehu, Ms Hall's half-sister.
Although the birth began at the Lower Hutt home on August 15 last year, Kahu was born by caesarean at Wellington Hospital. Ms Hall said the child was named after Justice Durie's grandmother.
"She will be known as Kahu for all of her growing life. She has a rose garden planted for her at her birth. She was born here in Lower Hutt in our home. The only home she has known is the one she has been taken from. She is a strong child. She has her birth mother's beautiful eyes."
The couple have been in close contact with Kahu's birth mother and the rest of their whanau since the kidnapping.
"This is a terrible blow for our whole family," said Ms Hall.
"My mother, who is in her 80s, has been crying since she heard about this. She has a delicate heart condition. She was here in our home when Kahurautete was born. She was there to see the placement work."
Kahu's fulltime caregiver Nancy Tait Brooking said she was still in shock over the kidnapping of a baby she described as a miracle.
"I'm not coping as well as I should. Kahu had that ability to draw people to her of every creed and race. I've experienced her doing that. I didn't matter who was walking past her pushchair, they would stop and say 'what a beautiful baby', even in the most upmarket cafes."
Family sources said the relationship between Ms Hall and Justice Durie slowly emerged after his previous marriage to a second cousin of Ms Hall ended.
Relatives said the pair began to spend more time with each other as they were both lawyers living in Wellington and working with Maori Affairs.
Justice Durie has two adopted children, Tamatea and Wairakei, from his previous marriage and Ms Hall has an adopted daughter, Te Aho.
Full coverage: Baby Kahu kidnapping
Picture: Kahurautete Durie
Picture: Kahurautete's clothing
Picture: the car being sought by police
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By ALAN PERROTT