Moko is not alone: The story that’s all too familiar in New Zealand

It was a struggle to hold back the tears watching Moko’s mother speak out on TV3’s Story last night.

She described the harrowing detail of the horrific acts committed to Moko at the hands of his supposed carers, David Haerewa and Tania Shailer.

Moko’s mother, Nicola Dally-Paki first heard of the harrowing details of Moko’s prolonged death from her daughter who was just seven years old at the time.

Moko and his sister are not alone. The story of child abuse is one that’s all too familiar for our tiny country of 4.4 million and something we have confronted in the headlines many times before.

Just five years ago New Zealanders were reading the horrific story of three-year-old Nia Glassy, who was kicked, beaten, held over a fire, put into a spinning clothes dryer, pushed into piles of rubbish, thrown against a wall, dropped to the floor and hung from a rotary clothes line — all by members of her household.

Five years before that the headlines were on the story of Chris and Cru Kahui. The babies were dead from massive brain damage to both children, a broken femur for one.

These are just a few of the high-profile stories behind the statistics, but there are many more. Last year alone there were 15 child homicides in New Zealand, while a child is admitted to a New Zealand hospital every second day with injuries arising from assault, neglect or maltreatment. Nearly half of them are aged under five.

We’ve lost too many already and many more are living out there with the lifelong scars of neglect and abuse.

Every child deserves a safe environment and loving care. We need to ensure all vulnerable children get the best opportunity for a happy, healthy childhood. We as a country and as a community need to come together to make this happen.

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