An agency fighting against the sexual exploitation of children is calling on those dealing with kids and young people in Northland to raise more awareness of child abuse.
Ending Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Child Trafficking for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) said children in Northland were particularly vulnerable to abuse due to a lack of awareness at local government, education sector, and law enforcement levels.
The call followed the sentencing of a man in the Whangarei District Court to 19 years in prison for repeatedly raping and sexually abusing a young girl for a decade.
Kingi Povey, 62, was found guilty by a jury in May to five charges of rape, four of indecent assault, three of indecency with a girl under 12, three of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, and two of sexual conduct with a young person under 16.
He pleaded guilty before the start of his trial to two charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and one of sexual conduct with a young person under 16.
ECPAT director Warren Ferdinandus said the law was playing catch up as far as sexual abuse of children was concerned.
"A lack of awareness through schools and tools such as the availability of hotlines where abuses can be confidentially reported is what's needed in Northland," he said.
During a jury trial it emerged Povey, on one occasion, made the girl eat half a bar of soap before forcing her to perform an indecent act.
Povey told the girl she couldn't tell anyone and it would be their "little secret".
On another occasion Povey told the girl to watch a pornographic film, and learn from it. He raped her twice that day.
Judge John McDonald said the girl was trapped in a nightmare and Povey treated her as his "sexual plaything".
When she was being raped, the judge said she would look at the picture on the wall that contained a number of chickens and thought she was one of them as there was no one there for her.
Povey's offending began in 2000 when the girl was 4 years old, it escalated when she turned six, and continued until she turned 14.
Judge McDonald said the offending only stopped after the girl pointed a firearm at Povey and pulled the trigger but the weapon did not fire.
She then walked away and the sexual abuse finally stopped.
The victim attempted to end her life after Povey turned her and her family's life into a struggle, Judge McDonald said.
Crown prosecutor Catherine Anderson said a starting point of 18 years in jail was appropriate and submitted a minimum period of imprisonment was required to hold Povey accountable for the harm he had done and to denounce and deter others from similar offending.
Povey's lawyer Sumudu Thode argued a starting point of around 16 years was appropriate and pointed to a number of courses he undertook and completed while in custody.