Child toll must come down

South Waikato News - - Front Page - NI­COLA BREN­NAN-TUPARA

The South Waikato is no stranger to hor­rific child abuse cases.

Nia Glassie, Tyla-ma­ree Flynn, Moko Ran­gi­to­heriri, Pir­i­mai Sim­monds, and broth­ers Wini­ata and Si­mon Matekino are all buried within the dis­trict’s soil – each of their deaths shock­ing the com­mu­nity.

That’s why the South Waikato News is get­ting be­hind the re­launch of Stuff’s Faces of In­no­cents project.

So within the pages of the pa­per this week you’ll find in­for­ma­tion on that, as well as sto­ries of South Waikato chil­dren who lost their lives at the hands of their care­givers.

I make no apolo­gies for re­port­ing these deaths de­spite their hor­rific na­ture.

A com­mu­nity pa­per should not only cel­e­brate the good, but also shine the light on the bad so that change can oc­cur.

The death of Moko, who is buried at Mokai Marae, in­censed cit­i­zens to march in the streets, de­mand­ing an­swers and ac­count­abil­ity from the fam­ily, the com­mu­nity, and the au­thor­i­ties.

Sub­jected to hor­ren­dous abuse from David Haerewa and Ta­nia Shailer, Moko could never be called lucky. But the pub­lic grief caused by his death means he will never be for­got­ten.

But many other child vic­tims have been de­nied that last­ing legacy.

The Faces of In­no­cents project has cre­ated a pub­lic me­mo­rial to child vic­tims of abuse, ne­glect or mal­treat­ment.

And now an in­ter­ac­tive Child Vic­tim Toll – list­ing the 209 chil­dren lost in the last 25 years – means their sto­ries can be in­di­vid­u­ally told.

As­sem­bled and up­dated by our re­porters, it is the first and only pub­lic source of its kind.

Last year, our data­base records 14 chil­dren who died.

The toll is an im­per­fect mea­sure. De­spite our ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tions, some chil­dren will have es­caped no­tice.

We have taken up the man­tle of track­ing this vi­tal in­for­ma­tion.

We hope this toll will in­spire more New Zealan­ders to act: to learn about the scale of the prob­lem; vol­un­teer to help chil­dren at risk; do­nate to sup­port an agency work­ing to pre­vent child abuse; and re­port any signs of pos­si­ble abuse.

For Moko, Tyla-ma­ree, Nia, Si­mon and Wini­ata and ev­ery child vic­tim, we say: we must not ac­cept an in­ex­orable rise in the num­ber of Faces of In­no­cents. The Child Vic­tim Toll must come down.

For more or ways you can be in­volved go to stuff.co.nz

The deaths of Tyla-ma­ree Flynn, Moko Ran­gi­to­heriri and Nia Glassie shook the South Waikato com­mu­nity.

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