Tiny voices from the grave ...

Central Leader - - News -

To whom it may con­cern – and that should be all of us.

Please ac­cept this as an ur­gent pe­ti­tion call­ing for changes to laws and min­istry meth­ods, an end to bland – even dis­in­ter­ested – pub­lic at­ti­tudes and ter­ri­fy­ingly bru­tal pri­vate at­tacks on chil­dren.

Named be­low, we want politi­cians to hon­our the trust they asked for.

We want the pub­lic to see and hear what is hap­pen­ing around them.

We want peo­ple who know about ter­ri­ble child beat­ing to speak up, ig­nore the risk they face through what some are call­ing “nark­ing”.

They’re not dob­bing peo­ple in, they’re giv­ing other kids the pro­tec­tion we didn’t get.

We want the na­tion’s bat­tered and abused chil­dren to have greater pri­or­ity than emis­sions con­trol and a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied horse flu vac­cine.

Other con­tro­ver­sies take up time, en­ergy and money while this cri­sis of lit­er­ally life and death goes on un­chal­lenged.

We want leaders and de­ci­sion-mak­ers to act, fam­ily and whanau to break their years of ter­ri­ble si­lence and in­dif­fer­ence.

We want those who can and should act to end this scan­dal – now.

We can’t tell you what to do, any­more than we could end the cru­elty that killed us. Some of us didn’t live long enough to learn to sign our name, much less vote.

But if we can land on the moon surely we can pro­tect small chil­dren who are said to be loved and cher­ished so much and yet get beaten and ne­glected so long and so of­ten. Like we were. Signed on our be­half: Del­celia Wi­tika – I was two in 1991 when my mother and her boyfriend bashed, burned and hit me so hard my ap­pen­dix burst. They went to jail for man­slaugh­ter. I died.

Craig Manukau – My mother turned the ra­dio up to block out the noise when my fa­ther kicked me to death in 1992. I was 11.

Veronika Tak­erei-Mahu – I was 11 months in 1995 when a pub­lic health nurse re­ported she was wor­ried about my safety. But they didn’t lis­ten – be­fore my fa­ther beat me to death.

Tichena Crosland – I was three when CYFS took me away from my mother, Moana Whaka­maru­rangi, and my fa­ther David got cus­tody in 1997. Three months later I died from ter­ri­ble head in­juries and with a badly dam­aged vagina. My dad was jailed for my mur­der but ac­quit­ted of my rape.

James Whakaruru – Like Nia Glassie, my name and photo were all over the me­dia back in 1999 when I was beaten and stomped to death by my mother’s boyfriend Benny Haerewa who was out of jail af­ter he beat me up. He got 12 years for man­slaugh­ter. I was dead at four.

Hinewaoriki (Lilly­bing) Karaitiana-Ma­ti­aha – Two of my aunts were jailed for my man­slaugh­ter in 2000. I had brain swelling, bruis­ing and lac­er­a­tions to my gen­i­tals. I never had any love and died in my cot on my sec­ond birth­day while my mum was out par­ty­ing.

Mere­ana Ed­monds –I died of three se­ri­ous brain in­juries af­ter my mother and her part­ner Dorothy Tipene beat me. I was six. My mum was sen­tenced to eight years in 2000 and her friend got 27 months.

Saliel Aplin – My step­fa­ther was sent to jail for 25 years non-pa­role af­ter my sis­ter Olympia and I died of knife wounds in 2001. I was 12, she was 11.

Ta­mati Pokai – I was three in 2003 when my foster fa­ther beat me to death be­cause I brought a packet of jelly­beans home from kindy.

Coral-Ellen Bur­rows – When I didn’t want to go to school, my step­fa­ther Steven Wil­liams said I was cheeky, beat me to death and hid my body. That was 2003. I was six. My real dad had al­ready told of­fi­cials he was wor­ried about me but that didn’t save me.

Tan­garoa Matiu – I was three when my step­fa­ther took to me in 2004 af­ter I filled my pants be­cause I was fright­ened. Po­lice reck­oned he hit me 100 times in 20 min­utes, some of it with a piece of wood. When mum came, she didn’t stop him, she slapped me. He got life for mur­der, I lost mine, my mum got seven years for man­slaugh­ter.

Ngatikaura Ngata – Same with me. It was in 2006 and I was three and I filled my pants too. I got done over with a few things, like a base­ball bat. My step­fa­ther and my mum both got eight years for man­slaugh­ter.

Name sup­pressed – I don’t know why those guys did all this to me in 2005. Threw me against the wall, beat me, made me eat dog poos. They lived with my mother. She knew it hap­pened and did noth­ing to stop it. She got 18 months. Har­ley Wharew­era got 10 years, Jeremy Tawa got two. I was dead at two.

Chris and Cru Kahui – No one will say who killed us in 2006. Our fa­ther was ac­quit­ted of mur­der and there are no plans to charge any- one else over our bad head in­juries and bro­ken bones. De­tec­tives had to cope with the si­lence of our fam­ily.

Nia Glassie – Every­one knows what hap­pened to me – spun around on a re­volv­ing clothes­line, put into a tum­ble drier, kicked around the head, thrown on the floor. Five, in­clud­ing my mother, have yet to be sen­tenced af­ter con­vic­tions in­clud­ing mur­der and man­slaugh­ter.

And the ter­ri­ble list isn’t fin­ished.

Dy­lan Ho­hepa Tonga Ri­moni – I lit­er­ally ended up in Starship this April, dead at three with “un­ex­plained head in­juries”. A woman has been charged with my mur­der.

Pe­ti­tion PS: Why didn’t some­one do some­thing be­fore now to pro­tect us over all those years – and other New Zealand kids whose agony went un­de­tected or who are still in dan­ger? Please lis­ten to our voices now. • I say: Why has the hor­ror of it not got through to law­mak­ers and law en­forcers, to the fam­i­lies and the whanau who see the dread­ful in­juries, hear the un­likely explanations – “He fell off his bike ... she was on my shoul­ders and fell off ... maybe their younger brother in­jured them like that ... it was all just a bit of fun”.

New Jus­tice Min­is­ter Si­mon Power prom­ises “per- sonal pri­or­ity” to law changes – “we must send a mes­sage that such acts are ob­scene”.

He talks of moves in the new gov­ern­ment’s first 100 days.

Long over­due. By at least 17 years, as the “pe­ti­tion” shows. Prob­a­bly much more than that.

Child bash­ing and killing cer­tainly didn’t be­gin as a new trend in 1991.

Nor did the un­for­giv­able code of si­lence that still con­tin­ues.

Any new law must find ways of deal­ing with that – what le­gal his­to­ri­ans un­der­stand­ably and for good rea­son may la­bel as the Kahui prece­dent – or the Motueka method.

A five-month-old Motueka boy has a frac­tured skull, sus­pected brain dam­age and in­juries so bad that one pae­di­a­tri­cian had only seen be­fore in a child who fell 11 storeys.

Po­lice say the in­juries were de­lib­er­ately in­flicted last month but five of the ex­tended fam­ily, in­clud­ing his par­ents, who were there dur­ing that time­frame, have closed ranks.

Look hard at this un­ac­cept­able hole in the law, Mr Power. And fast. •

To con­tact Pat Booth email off­pat@snl.co.nz. All replies are open for pub­li­ca­tion un­less marked Not For Pub­li­ca­tion.

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