Man charged with baby’s murder
A Kaitaia man is in custody charged with the murder of four-week-old Kaitaia baby Maree Takuira Mita Ngahere.
The man, 22, was granted interim name suppression when he appeared in Kaitaia District Court on Thursday, charged with murder of Maree in Kaitaia on February 19.
The man also faces a charge of assault on a child in relation to a separate matter and is charged with assaulting a one year old in Manurewa between December 1 and January 16.
The accused was remanded in custody by Judge Deidre Orchard to reappear in the High Court at Whanga¯rei on March 21.
About 20 people sat in silence in the public gallery during the man’s appearance in court. He was visibly upset in the dock.
Maree died on February 19, with police reporting her death was not accidental.
Results from a post-mortem indicated she suffered a brain injury and bleeding to her brain. There was also severe bruising on one arm and thigh.
Police thanked the community for coming forward after an appeal for information was made.
“I want to really thank the Far North community, particularly the people of Kaitaia, for their support throughout this inquiry,” acting Detective Inspector Lloyd Schmid said.
“The message that I want to get out is that it’s their community — we can’t police this by ourselves. They have stepped up and provided us with that support. It was a combination of that support and the hard work of this [police] team here has got us to that first step,” he said.
“We’re only at the beginning of this journey.”
Mr Schmid said police’s door was always open for people with further information.
“If people think they have anything of value, we’re certainly willing to sit down and listen to what they have to say.”
On average, a child in NZ is killed every five weeks, putting the country high on the list of the world’s worst offenders, according to a 2016 report.
Sixty-one children died as a result of non-accidental injuries in New Zealand between 2006 and 2016.
The New Zealand Police Homicide Victims Report 2017, released last year, showed 686 people were killed by homicide in NZ over that period, with children under five making up 12 per cent of the victims.
Media attention was focused on Kaitaia District Court on Thursday, when the murder-accused appeared. Inset: Maree Takuira Mita Ngahere.