Key Points:

Nia Glassie, the three-year-old at the centre of an alleged abuse case, has died in Starship Hospital.

Nia was flown to the hospital last Saturday in a serious condition after twice being admitted to Rotorua Hospital in the previous week.

Police are investigating whether she had suffered months of abuse, including being spun in a tumble dryer.

In a statement issued just moments ago, Rotorua Coroner Dr Wallace Bain revealed that Nia had died.

Police confirmed that Nia Glassie died at 4.12pm in Starship Hospital.

She will undergo a post-mortem examination tomorrow morning.

The Rotorua Coroner said he had immediately opened a formal inquiry into her death.

Dr Bain did so for a number of reasons including:

- he had received a very detailed report from police that revealed in "graphic detail a wide range of injuries that this 3-year-old girl is alleged to have suffered",

- the police report that the death appears to have been unnatural or violent,

- public concern about the case.

Dr Bain said his inquiry would also investigate ways to reduce the chance of it happening again to other children.

The coroner's inquiry will wait until after a trial of five people arrested by police.

The case has sparked national debate about the level of child abuse within New Zealand.

Three of five people charged in relation to the alleged abuse are from the Curtis family of Rotorua.

William Curtis, 48, the oldest of the accused and the one facing the most serious charges, is a first cousin of Hollywood actor Cliff Curtis.

Four of the accused have dropped an appeal to prevent media organisations from filming and photographing them in court.

The four had argued that publication of their images would jeopardise their safety. They had until Wednesday evening to file the appeal with the High Court at Rotorua but did not do so.

The fifth accused, Nia's 17-year-old stepfather, is due to appear in the Rotorua District Court on Monday.