This is the real verdict ...
No question, the jury acquitted but the hidden verdict is actually guilty – again.
The New Zealand community is still in the dock over the long-running record of murder with our children as victims and through our failure to stop the terrible trend.
The Kahui case is typical both for what happened and what seems certain to follow – the horror of first revelations, public demands for action, slow ebbing of national interest as the big headlines moved, now a new flurry of emotion and words.
Of course there are astounding differences – in the speed and the unprecedented total rejection of the Crown case and in the implications of the defence theory.
But if history repeats itself – and that is a familiar worrying pattern – this case will fade from the public consciousness as others have.
Maybe, it will take longer but, if you doubt that, remember these facts in this column last August:
New Canterbury University then revealed 91 “child homicides” in this country between 1991 and 2000 – two-thirds of them under five, one in four under one.
In the 2007 June year – Starship’s worst on record - doctors and nurses there dealt with 38 suspect admissions, 25 with those “non-accidental” injuries, one dead.
The total in the previous six years, 181 children with suspected or definite child abuse. Thirteen of them died. I wrote then: “The government, its departments with responsibilities to protect our children, the community, families and whanau, neighbours, friends, have all been regularly and publicly conscience-stricken over the years.
“And they then put the terrible details of the deaths behind them – until the next incident when they unconsciously repeat the process.”
Once again, this is one of those times.
The country – understandably stunned again by the fate of the tiny Kahui brothers – is in a guilt and outrage phase.
But how long will it last and what will be the outcome?
If you doubt that, remember if you can Delcelia Witika, two, bashed, burnt and hit so hard her appendix burst, than left alone to die while her mother and her partner went socialising.
Craig Manukau, 11, his mother turned the radio volume up trying to drown the noise of his father kicking him to death.
Tichena Crosland, three, battered to death by her father.
James Whakaruru, four, punched and stomped to death by his mother’s boyfriend.
Lillybing, 23 months, who died alone in her cot from head and internal injuries while her mother was out partying.
Olympia, 11, and Saliel Aplin, 12, knifed to death by their stepfather.
Nia Glassie, three, with claims of her in a spinning tumble drier and on a revolving clothes line.
That’s only part of a list which seems endless, with one thing each of my files has in common: After public anger – and the familiar “we mustn’t let this happen again” – the killings just went on and on. And still do. For the record: The police announcement within hours of the court defeat that there will be no further investigation into the Kahui deaths, that the file is now closed, is a sharp contrast to reactions which went on for years after the pardoning of Arthur Thomas for the Crewe murders.
Police made it clear then that the Crewe file was still open – and possibly still is.
As the Kahui file should be.
Now, it’s time that a nation so publicly shaken by the loss of a certain rugby trophy and a forward pass it still moans about, got its priorities straight and protected its children.
Until that happens a guilty verdict hangs over all of us.
As I have written before: “Their names are like tombstones, an accusing litany of the innocent dead.” Oh, yes, the Budget. Amid a tsunami of figures and promises, two questions: • How come that a government which in a time of “fiscal plenty” as Michael Cullen might label it – has been unable for years to spend such money, can now find it so readily when the electoral clock is ticking and its poll ratings are collapsing? • How come, without any real inside knowledge on the state of the economy now and in the months ahead, can National make such specific tax cut promises in response to those bribes?
The national executive of the RSA has – so to speak – put the cap on the vexed “hats on/hats off” question.
The issue is whether chemotherapy patients, or those disfigured, or those who have lost their hair because of medical conditions should be forced to take their hats off inside RSA clubs.
The RSA wants all reasonable requests to wear a hat inside clubs to be considered with “courtesy and respect” with practicality and compassion in mind.
This action is a victory for the wife of an ex-serviceman who first raised the “no hat” rule in this column.
She told how her veteran husband, a cancer victim, was refusing chemotherapy if the local RSA club’s hats off rule afterwards stopped him covering his hairless head, causing him to drop out of the club and losing contact with his friends and the good fellowship he enjoyed there.
The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services national executive took her letter to heart.
It’s now sending out guidelines to all of New Zealand’s member associations.
These will make clear how they can and should waive the no hats rule and specifying that these detailed conditions be written into club rules.
Calling for all those going to the clubs to be “treated with respect and consideration”, particularly those men and women who have been disfigured in some manner, the letter says “it would be more of an affront to our basic goals of care for people to refuse a member entry on account of a hat than to allow it”.
But the letter also spells out a drill covering the issue: “It is a requirement that special permission to wear headgear be sought from either an executive member of the manager of the local club” – and what sort of “headgear” also be considered.
And every effort should be made to alert members to the fact that an exception has been asked for and granted – so wearing a hat will not be challenged.
Not just men either. “Women may wear a hat – if it is part of a uniform or formal dress.”
But otherwise, the same rules and standards apply – and presumably the same health and compassion conditions.
To contact Pat Booth email: firstname.lastname@example.org. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.