A Maori child poverty advocate says a drop in the number of referrals to Child Youth and Family might be an indication there is more awareness and not a drop in actual abuse.
The government statistics show 16,000 children were abused in the 12 months to June, more than 2000 fewer that the previous 12 months.
Consultant and advocate Anton Blank said the numbers may coincide with a new strategy - where police or doctors do not automatically report incidents to Child Youth and Family.
He said from experience when there has been a lot of education about child abuse there will be a spike in reporting that may not reflect an increase in children being mistreated.
Mr Blank said some of the issues that Mr Wills has mentioned are coming into play so that rather than proceeding to prosecution, police are instead referring families to community agencies for intervention and support.