Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Heartbroken mother of 4-yr-old boy who died at daycare speaks out for the first time

Aldrich Viju, 4, died in an accident at the Angels Childcare Centre on Anzac St Takapuna 18 November 2016. Photo / Supplied
Aldrich Viju, 4, died in an accident at the Angels Childcare Centre on Anzac St Takapuna 18 November 2016. Photo / Supplied

The heartbroken mother of the 4-year-old who died in a childcare centre tragedy has called for safety improvements at kindys, including video cameras to be installed in playgrounds.

Aldrich Viju tragically died after an incident at Angels Childcare Centre, on Auckland's North Shore, last November.

Police have described the death as a "tragic accident".

Speaking publicly for the first time, his grieving mother Gisha Viju said not a day went by when she didn't cry for her eldest child.

As the Viju family continues to mourn their precious boy, she has called for improved safety measures at kindys and childcare centres, including CCTV cameras overlooking playgrounds.

"We don't have proof to know what happened. That's why we are [saying] all childcare centres should have cameras in playing areas,'' she said.

"My request is that proper actions should [be taken] to prevent this - like installing cameras in play areas and increasing the number of staff in childcare centres.

"Try to avoid dangerous play equipment - there should be proper inspections to make sure [of] safety."

Viju described the November 18 tragedy as a parent's worst nightmare.

Her call for the installation of cameras comes from a desire to ensure other Kiwi families do not have to endure the pain and loss that has devastated her family.

"No-one knows ... the pain we are going through now," she said. "We still can't accept the truth that he is not with us."

Her son, she said, was "a wonderful, beautiful little boy. We never saw him arguing or fighting with anyone - he only knows how to smile.

"When we took him outside, we never saw him climbing or playing with anything without our supervision. He is not a hyperactive boy. He always likes to watch TV or to draw something."

She said the family was not sure what had happened and was waiting for the outcome of police, WorkSafe NZ and coronial inquiries.

Shortly after Aldrich's death a family representative told police that they were too upset to talk to police; including about what actually happened on the tragic day.

They have not had any other contact with Aldrich's school, Angels Childcare Centre, Viju said.

Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna, Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte
Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna, Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte

"Every time when I went to pick him from childcare, I always saw him sitting inside watching TV or drawing. I hardly saw him playing outside," Viju said.

"That's why we are wondering how it happened and how we lost our little one."

Police said in November the little boy's death appeared to have been a "tragic accident.''

"Early indications are that the child has died following an accident on playground equipment. However, police are still working to establish the full circumstances of what has occurred,'' a statement said.

Angels Childcare did not respond to a request for comment, but an earlier statement - and the only statement the school has given publicly - said at the time of the incident, there were seven children playing outside and two qualified teachers were supervising the area.

"Both teachers were trained in first aid, including CPR, and every effort was made to resuscitate Aldrich while the emergency services were on their way," a spokesman said.

"Our team and the Angels families at our centre are all devastated by this tragic accident."

Police this week said they had since referred the matter to the Coroner and were therefore unable to give any further details.

A spokeswoman for WorkSafe NZ said their investigation into the incident was still underway.

Aldrich's parents have previously stayed quiet since they lost their son.

They spent some time in their homeland, India, where they travelled with Aldrich's younger sister to hold a final services and lay their boy to rest.

Now back in Auckland, they continue to move forward with their lives thanks to the support of loved ones and the wider community who have reached out to them.

"We are slowly settling down now," Viju said.

"I am also taking this opportunity to thank everyone who supported us in our difficult time. This is what I want to tell to [the] public.

"I hope proper actions will happen to improve the safety of [our] kids.''

- Herald on Sunday

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