Bay of Plenty Times
Children are dying needlessly here in NZ
Nevaeh Ager was only 2 years oldwhenshe died. I expect she would have been excitedly waiting for the arrival of her baby brother. But she never got to meet him.
Nevaehwas killed while her mother wasin hospital giving birth.
Her little body was found in the tidal flats of the Little Waihi estuary in Maketu¯ — killed by her father Aaron Izett, whowashigh on P.
Hewas convicted earlier this monthof her murder.
Her tragic death is the latest in a long line of incredibly sad and unacceptable child deaths innew Zealand.
Andit doesn’t seemto be a problemweare overcoming.
Anindependent Police Complaints Authority investigation found police mishandled a 111 call from Nevaeh’s great-grandmother, Niki Sturgess.
She wanted help getting her great-grandchild out of the house in Maketu because shewasconcerned about Izett’s behaviour.
Shewas told police did not have the power to intervene because she and her husband did not have custody of Nevaeh.
Police did not send anyone to do awelfare check at the house.
Nevaehwas found dead the next day in the estuary, weighteddown with rocks.
Police say they let Nevaeh and her family down.
But her father also let her down. Hewas the person she should have been able to rely on for protection, comfort, and nurturing.
Nevaeh’s death hassome sickening parallels with 6-year-old Coral Burrows, whoin 2003was beaten to death and hidden under a bush by her stepfather, Stephen Williams.
Hewas also high on P at the time. Williams isnowserving a life sentence in prison.
Chris and Cru Kahui, Nia Glassie, JJ Ruhe-lawrence, Jyniah Te Awa, Mokorangitoheriri.
These aresome of thenamesof childrenwhoshould today be growing, living, thriving.
Instead, their lives were cut short by violence or neglect.
Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children (1— 14 years) innewzealand; there are about 8.4 unintentional injuryrelated deaths per 100,000 children (aged0to 14) annually, according to thenewzealand Medical Journal.
In 2016Nzmereportednew Zealand has the fifth-worst child abuse record out of 31OECD countries and on average a child is killed here every five weeks. It’s now2020 and what has changed?
It’s time for aroyal Commission of Inquiry. Weneed tightermore robust systems in place to identify vulnerable children and families.
The issue is a complicated one — drugs, family violence, poverty are all factors. But it’s onewemust tackle. Lives of vulnerable, innocent children depend on it.