Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Toddler's death: Inquest to be held

Moko Rangitoheriri
Moko Rangitoheriri

An inquest will be held to look into the causes and circumstances around the death of 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri.

Rotorua Coroner Wallace Bain announced today he will conduct the hearing after the sentencing of the Taupo toddler's killers, Tania Shailer and David William Haerewa, next month.

Shailer and Haerewa this week pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Moko, who was in their care at the time of his death.

Dr Bain said he would be addressing a number of questions, including what checks were made as to the suitability of the caregivers, what checks were made on the safety and wellbeing of Moko while in their care and if anyone else was aware of the assaults Moko was receiving during the two month period before his death.

Moko died at Taupo Hospital in August last year after being beaten to the point where he suffered facial swelling, internal bleeding, septic shock from his leaking bowel and swelling of the brain.

In the two months that Moko was in the care of Shailer and Haerewa he was kicked, slapped, stomped on, had faeces rubbed in his face and bitten by the pair.

Dr Bain related the upcoming inquest to that of Nia Glassie's in which a number of important questions were addressed and clear recommendations made with a view to ensure tragic deaths such as hers did not occur in the future.

Rotorua toddler Nia died in 2007 after being subjected to ongoing abuse from her extended family. She had been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on, held over a burning fire, had wrestling moves practiced on her, spit on, placed into a spinning clothes dryer, folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half-naked, flung against a wall, and swung on an outdoor clothes line until thrown off.

"Sadly it seems eight years [after Nia Glassie] we are again considering such serious and tragic consequences as a result of caregivers mistreating a child," Dr Bain said in his decision to open a new inquiry.

"The Nia Glassie inquest highlighted the child abuse problem in New Zealand and the issue of children living in poverty. Sadly the horrific abuse that a child such as Nia suffered appears on the face of it to have been accentuated in a worse way in the tragic death of little Moko, eight years later."

Dr Bain said the inquest into Moko's death would specifically look at what steps, if any, had been taken by those identified as having some responsibility in keeping children safe and if those steps were adequate.

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