By KELLY MAKIHA
A three-year- old Bay of Plenty girl lay seriously injured for 36 hours before anyone sought medical help for her, police say.
The girl is in a coma in Auckland's Starship Hospital after being physically abused at her Rotorua home over three weeks, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper said.
No one has been charged with the alleged long-term abuse of the girl.
However, four people - none of whom are her parents - have been charged with assaulting the child over a three-day period between Wednesday and Friday last week.
Mr Loper said the girl lay suffering - possibly unconscious - with serious injuries for at least 36 hours before she was taken to Rotorua Hospital on Sunday morning.
It is understood the alleged abuse included tying the little girl to a clothes' line at the rear of her Frank St home in Koutu while she was spun around.
Mr Loper said the toddler was flown to Starship on Sunday night and was now in a coma in a serious but stable condition.
She has a serious head injury and abdominal injuries and is in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
A woman aged 17, and two men aged 19 and 21 yesterday appeared in Rotorua District Court jointly charged with assaulting the child. A fourth man, aged 17, appeared in Auckland District Court on the same charge.
Mr Loper declined to comment on how the girl's injuries occurred.
He said the toddler's mother was at Starship but her father had not been around for several years.
"Police inquiries reveal the girl had been allegedly repeatedly assaulted by extended family members for up to three weeks prior to being admitted to hospital."
The Rotorua Daily Post went to the Frank St house at the end of a right-of-way yesterday .
The property backs on to vacant land that has been used as a rubbish dump.
Dirty nappies, children's clothes, empty beer and bourbon cans and bottles, old toys, a mobile phone and a stereo were strewn on the ground.
Neighbours said it was a good area but there had been problems associated with the rental property where the girl lived.
Several neighbours had called police on Saturday about 8pm after a fight broke out at the house during a 21st birthday party.
The fight had settled down by the time police arrived and no one was arrested.
Mr Loper said the injured girl was at a different house during the party.
One neighbour said the tenants moved in at the start of the year. She wasn't sure who lived there as there always seemed to be people coming and going. She believed two toddlers, an eight and a 10-year-old were among those who lived at the house.
Another neighbour said there had been concern about vehicles speeding along the right-of-way.
Mr Loper said police would this week spend time talking to family members as well as organisations linked to the child, including her kohanga reo. He said Child Youth and Family had no history with the child but the case would be handed over to it now.
The charged trio did not have legal representation and did not enter pleas. Judge James Weir remanded them in custody until Monday.