Tears fell, songs were sung, and signs were waved outside the Whanganui District Court yesterday during the Justice for Moko march.
Up to 100 people joined in the Wanganui march at the beginning, which was organised to coincide with the sentencing of Tania Shailer and David William Haerewa in the Rotorua High Court. The couple pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Moko Rangitoheriri.
Marches were organised nationwide, and rally-goers stood outside courtrooms around the country as they waited to hear what the defendants would be sentenced to.
Shailer and Haerewa were each sentenced to 17 years in prison, with a nine-year non-parole period.
"I'm enjoying my life, Moko didn't," read one sign being waved outside the Whanganui courthouse.
"No means no more," read another.
Those attending took turns grabbing the megaphone to have their say on the issue of child abuse and child homicide in New Zealand.
Shanette, a grandmother caring for her grandchild, said she was "just so disturbed that this cycle is continuing".
"Who has the right to do that to anybody? My grandchild herself could have been one of those statistics.
"My heart says the law is not standing up for these children, eh. I think it comes down to us as people. We need to open our eyes. Come on New Zealand, we actually need to stand up for these babies."
Shanette said people needed to start taking action if they believed or even suspected a child was in danger.
"The worst thing is you're wrong. The best thing is you save that child's life. You get them out of the s***.
"You might feel stink making a call, you might feel a little bit uncomfortable. You might save a child's life. Take a stand and stop that s***, otherwise we're going to be here next week."
Another woman, who introduced herself as Jenny, said she was caring for her great grandchild.
"We have grandparents that get threatened by the parents of these little children. You've just got to stand up for yourself and get a group and go to the police station."
Jenny, who also called herself "the rottweiler", said "I will make sure, as long as my bottom is pointing to the ground, that it won't happen to any of my grandchildren."
Another woman who took the megaphone spoke out against the "evilism" in the world.
"We've got to recognise the driving force behind this, because it's evil, and honestly I don't know how people can do this, but this is definitely the work of the devil," she said through tears.
"We can overcome anything with the Lord by our side."
The woman said she was at the march representing her social services class.
"I want to make a change, not just within New Zealand but within the world, and I want this to stop asap because this ain't right."