14 Dec 2017

Commissioner rejects coroner's child-register plan

10:00 am on 14 December 2017

The Children's Commissioner will not back a register to monitor all children despite a coroner saying it will save lives.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft.

The Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft said there was no need to "reinvent the wheel" to keep children safe. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Coroner Wallace Bain made the recommendation after the brutal killing of Nia Glassie 10 years ago, and has repeated his call after considering the case of three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri.

Moko died in 2015 after prolonged abuse by his two carers, Tania Shailer and David Haerewa.

He was kicked, slapped, bitten, thrown and stomped on.

When he began soiling himself, he had faeces rubbed in his face as punishment. He died of a ruptured bowel and a head injury.

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Moko Rangitoheriri Photo: Supplied

In the findings released yesterday, Dr Bain said too many opportunities to help Moko were missed by several agencies in the months leading up to his death.

Ten years ago after the killing of Nia Glassie, he recommended that all children be registered from birth with government agencies. Another 94 children have died in that time.

Dr Bain said whatever the cost, child abuse has to be stopped and a register could save lives.

Rotoua Coroner Dr Wallace Bain pictured at the cornoners inquest into the death of Moko Rangitoheriri held at the Rotorua District Court.

Coroner Wallace Bain at the inquest into the death of Moko Rangitoheriri earlier this year. Photo: Pool / Alan Gibson

But Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft said it would mean nothing unless the services delivered were high-quality and effective.

He said agencies like Well Child Tamariki Ora and Children's Teams already exist, and it would be pointless to "reinvent the wheel".

"That's why using and expanding existing services is a better immediate first step, and ensuring that they're well trained."

Judge Becroft said to end violence against children, government agencies needed to work alongside highly trained community agencies.

'We have children dying'

But Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, the former head of Women's Refuge, said the equivalent of three classrooms of children have died since Nia Glassie.

"We can't be precious in this instance, we have children dying, and they're dying regularly.

"This is a major recommendation out of a coroner's report, surely this time it's going to be acted upon."

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait. Photo: SUPPLIED

Ms Raukawa-Tait said it did not have to become a negative programme.

She said community groups would need to deliver services because families did not trust government agencies.

Arama Ngapo-Lipscombe is the lawyer for Moko's mother Nicola Dally-Paki.

She would back a register but adds a word of caution.

"There will be a fear that it's used to prejudge, prejudice, predetermine and that will lead to professionals making judgements without taking into account a person's circumstance.

"There is a risk they will look at the register and profile them."

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