The organisers of a "Tauranga Rally for Moko" are calling on the community to come out in force to add their voices to the nationwide call for communities to stamp out child abuse.
Papamoa mother Rochelle Doyle and her daughter Cheyjuana Doyle, 25, are spearheading the public rally being held on June 27 from 9am at Edgewater Fan on The Strand to coincide with David Haerewa and Tania Shailer's sentencing in the High Court at Rotorua.
Street marches were also planned across the country sparked by public uproar over the horrific abuse Taupo youngster Moko Rangioheriri, 3, was subjected to during his time in their care.
Moko was kicked, slapped, stomped on, had faeces rubbed in his face and was bitten.
He died in Taupo Hospital in August last year after suffering internal bleeding, septic shock from his leaking bowel and swelling of the brain.
Originally charged with Moko's murder, Shailer and Haerewa pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Ms Doyle said as a mother and a grandmother she was appalled to learn what happened to Moko.
"Over the years, like most New Zealanders, I've become increasingly concerned about our child abuse statistics, particularly the number of our babies dying. Despite all the agencies, and community groups working hard to support at-risk families, there still seems to be a huge missing link. I don't know what it is but we urgently need to find out what it is, and act to quickly to fill the gap." Ms Doyle, in her fourth year of a social work degree at Tauranga's University of Waikato campus, said she could no longer stand by and do nothing.
"Child abuse is not a Maori issue, or a poverty issue as some people have suggested. It's a community-wide problem and therefore it needs the whole community's commitment to stopping the cycle of abuse."
At least 450 people had indicated their intention to attend the June 27 rally, which would also included a number of speakers, she said.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby and a representative from the Labour Party would also be there.
Ms Doyle said at the rally, a petition would be circulated calling on the Government to change the law to remove the ability for those accused of child abuse to negotiate a murder charge to a manslaughter one.
- Additional reporting NZME
Our shocking child abuse statistics:
• New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of 31 OECD countries.
• On average, one child is killed every five weeks.
• Most are under 5 and the largest victim group is under a year old.
• In 90 per cent of child deaths the offender was known to the child.
• Nearly 9000 children a year are born "at risk" (1 in every 30).
- Child Matters