Women's Refuge deny claims staff member knew Moko was being abused

Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri died in August last year after being kicked, slapped, stomped on and bitten. Photo / Supplied
Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri died in August last year after being kicked, slapped, stomped on and bitten. Photo / Supplied

The Taupo Women's Refuge says claims a staffer knew baby Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri was being abused by the caregiver who killed him are untrue.

The board of Te Whare Oranga Wairua refuge in Taupo says claims by a journalist that social worker Trina Marama had been told by Moko's sister of the extreme violence and beatings handed down to the 3-year-old boy in the months before his death were incorrect, and were the result of a miscommunication between Ms Marama and a journalist.

"It is unfortunate that a hard working manager was interviewed by a journalist when she was unprepared for the information presented last week," board spokeswoman Ngakiha Tawhai said.

"The manager became confused when presented with information ... and admits she got names and dates confused and may have given the journalist the impression that she agreed with the events portrayed. This is regrettable," Ms Tawhai said.

According to the refuge, rather than having been told about abuse from her carer, Moko's sister told Ms Marama about child to child behaviour only.

"Nothing that was said indicated an adult was harming children in that home. Should that have been revealed we would have taken action and notified Child, Youth and Family immediately," Ms Tawhai said.

Earlier this week, it was claimed in a media report that Moko's sister had told the social worker of caregiver Tania Shailer's violence towards the boy.

Moko died in August last year after being kicked, slapped, stomped on and bitten by Shailer and David William Haerewa. The pair had abused the boy, who had been entrusted to their care on June 12, for weeks.

Ms Tawhai said the report had impacted badly upon refuge manager Mahia Te Tomo and Ms Marama, who were both "upset and stressed".

"We stand by our staff and the good work that they have done for women and children over the years," she said.

"There will be a coronial inquest regarding the events around Moko's sad and untimely death and we are hopeful that anything any person or agency can learn from his sad and untimely death will be clarified at that time."

Last week the national Women's Refuge body released a statement seeking to "clarify allegations currently circulating in the media."

"It has been reported that Moko's sister disclosed to a Women's Refuge social worker that he (Moko) was being abused by Tania Shailer the caregiver of both children."

The organisation's chief executive Dr Ang Jury said the report was untrue.

"Women's Refuge has a robust child abuse reporting protocol in place and if a disclosure of this kind had been made to us, it would have resulted in an immediate notification of concern to Child, Youth and Family.

"In this case the information provided to us was around child to child interaction and not at a level for us to have considered that these allegations were serious enough for a notification to CYF."

Dr Jury said that as part of standard refuge process, the matter of the children's behaviour was raised in a discussion on July 30 with Shailer to support her with managing "challenging behaviour by and among the children".

"We had not heard any direct allegation from a child on our programme that an adult had physically hurt Moko or any other children. Had this in fact occurred I am sure the response would have been very different.

"It is only now, with the benefit of hindsight, that all of us can look back and wonder what might have happened if more was done for this family," she said.

- NZ Herald

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