Child toll must come down
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.