Terepo Taura-Griffiths, James Joseph (‘JJ’) Ruhe Lawrence, Kash McKinnon, Dylan Hohepa Tonga Rimoni, Nia Glassie, Jhia Te Tua, Tyla-Maree Flynn, Baby Afoa, Hail-Sage McClutchie, Mikara Ranui Jarius Reti, Benjamin Mikaio, Ngatikaura Ngati, Christopher Arepa & Cru Omeka Kahui, Faith Leaso, Cezar Taylor, Mikara Reti, Serenity Scott, Sahara Baker-Koro, Serenity Scott.
All of these names have something in common- they are all children, one 8 year old, one 6 year old and rest just toddlers and pre-toddlers, they are all names of New Zealand children, they all suffered abuse by carers, and they are all DEAD. The list is also incomplete, but these are many of the cases resulting in death that have occurred in just the last few years or so- there are many more incidents where the damage to the children hasn’t been lethal but none-the-less life-threatening. To say that this is a disgrace to an extent minimises the problem- it is much worse than a disgrace.
New Zealand is often promoted internationally as a country of wonderful resources, spectacular scenery and beautiful people. Do beautiful people kill their children? Do beautiful people beat, starve and neglect their children? Do beautiful people put their children in the hands of drunk or drugged bullies? Obviously the answer is ‘no’. So is the image promoted overseas wrong? If the record is thus and the statistics are to be believed, then certainly in part the answer is ‘yes’.
This is a problem that our government (and I don’t mean THIS government, I mean ANY government of the day) MUST address with urgency. It is a social issue that is above race. It is a social issue that obviously does have elements that relate to race because 60% of the reported cases of child abuse involve Maori despite the fact that Maori represent just 15% of the population. But Maori also represent too large a proportion of the unemployed, of the impoverished, of the jailed, and of the families on or below the poverty line. People have their opinions of where the problem lies and what must be done to solve it and they probably all have merit to some degree.
Whatever needs to happen needs to happen NOW! Let’s not have more commissions doing research then committees sitting around and discussing the findings. Surely enough data has already been collected- by research, by studies and by anecdotal evidence from a range of various authorities. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, Government Of The Day, put poverty and unemployment at the top of your list and start things moving so that we can look forward to a future where ALL of our children are safe in the arms of their loved ones.
See Also: National Disgrace Continues and How Many Tragedies Have Led To This? and When Will It End?