Trigger warning: child abuse, child death
  1. I write a lot of lists on here about how great New Zealand is, and why I love living here and being a New Zealander so much. Something I haven't written about are the ways in which New Zealand isn't such a great place. I've always intended to, I've got about six different lists in my drafts folder to back me up, and they all touch on this subject.
  2. The ugly truth about New Zealand is that we have one of the highest rates of domestic violence, and child abuse leading to child death in the developed world.
  3. The most recent, prominent case is that of the death of Moko Rangitoheriri, a three year old boy who was brutally murdered by two people. Tania Shailer and David Haerewa were acting as caregivers to Moko and his seven year old sister while their mother was looking after an older sibling in Starship children's hospital in Auckland.
  4. Over five weeks, Tania Shalier and David Haerewa hit, kicked, and threw Moko. They dropped him face-first on the ground. They bit him. They locked him in the bathroom for two weeks, starving him. The rubbed his own faeces in his face. They stomped on him so hard that his bowel ruptured, causing septic shock.
  5. His seven year old sister would stay home from school to try and sneak him food. She hid Moko in wardrobes so they couldn't hurt him. She did everything in her power to protect Moko from the two people who should have been protecting him. And they forced her to participate in his final torture, telling her they would kill her mum if she didn't.
  6. They told her that their mother didn't want her or Moko, that she didn't love them. They physically abused Moko and psychologically abused his sister.
  7. This little girl told her mother that it was her fault Moko died, that she did it all. It was only after her mum promised her that Shailer and Haerewa were in jail and couldn't get to them that she felt safe enough to tell the truth about what had happened. That poor little girl blamed herself for her little brothers death.
  8. She told her aunt that she wished she had died too.
  9. Moko died in August 10 of last year, his eyes so swollen that the nurse couldn't lift his eyelids to check his pupil, his little body unrecognisable to his own mum.
  10. In September, Shailer and Haerewa plead not guilty to murder charges. And in May they plead guilty to manslaughter charges in a plea bargain deal.
  11. Manslaughter. Like they hadn't meant to do it. Like the violence they inflicted on Moko, on his tiny, three year old body wasn't supposed to kill him.
  12. Today Shailer and Haerewa were sentenced to 17 years' prison. The highest sentence imposed in New Zealand history for the manslaughter of a child. But it's not enough. Manslaughter is not enough.
  13. Thousands of New Zealanders marched outside high courts across the country this morning, protesting against Moko's killers being sentenced to manslaughter and not murder.
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  19. New Zealand marches for every victim of child abuse. For every child killed. For all of the children who are being hurt and killed by the people who are supposed to love and protect them.
  20. And Moko is only one example.
  21. Nia Glassie
  22. Leon Jayet-Cole
  23. Ihaka Paora Braxton Stokes
  24. Maggie Renee Watson
  25. Gracie-May McSorley
  26. Chris and Cru Kahui
  27. We have the fifth worst child abuse record in the world. 204 children have been killed in the last 20 years. On average, one child dies every five weeks. It's disgusting, it's horrific, and it's shameful.
  28. And it's not okay. Ever.