A retired Napier detective sergeant is calling for the removal of the right to silence for those involved in abuse against children, six months after a 4-year-old was brutally beaten in Flaxmere.
Today marks six months since the boy was found at a Ramsey Cres address by a family member on January 29 with suspicious injuries, including widespread bruising and a brain injury.
No charges have been laid, but police say the majority of inquiries have been completed and they are waiting only on medical expert reports before proceeding.
Police would not be drawn on what could happen next.
"We appreciate the significant interest in this matter, but there is no further comment or information we can provide at this stage," a spokeswoman said.
The child has been discharged from the rehabilitation centre he was admitted to in April, after a stay in Starship Hospital in Auckland, and is now believed to be in the care of his grandmother.
Napier City Councillor Keith Price, who spent 28 years with New Zealand police, has called for a law change, after no arrests have been made in the case to date.
Price said he had been looking to change the law in relation to violence to children aged 5 and under since the killing of 3-year-old Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri in Taupo in 2015.
"I spoke outside Napier District Court after baby Moko's murder and even then I mentioned removing the right to silence for people who have immediate control or custody of a child 5 years or under who has received physical or mental abuse," he said.
"There'd be a lot of work to refine this, but I feel it'd be a great outcome to protect young children and remove the right of silence to these ruthless people.
"It's so difficult when carrying out an investigation like this when witnesses and offenders hide behind the right to silence."
University of Canterbury criminologist Professor Emeritus Greg Newbold said the 2006 deaths of the 3-month-old Kahui twins, Cris and Kru, was also a well-known precedent.
"This led to the so-called Kahui Amendment to the Crimes Act in 2012, which made 'failing to protect' a vulnerable child punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment," Newbold said.
"So there is some recourse to charge a parent or caregiver who remains silent about the cause of a child's injuries. The hard part is proving that the person knew what was going on and was in a position to prevent it.
"Removing a person's right to silence in such cases probably wouldn't solve the problem because a person could just say 'I didn't see anything', which is what they usually say anyhow. If they say they weren't present, or that they were asleep at the time, it would be difficult to prove they are lying."
He said such cases provoke "moral outrage", but solving the issue is difficult and "no government so far has been able come up with a solution".
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Inspector Mike Foster, said three staff were still working on the case, six months on.
The case previously had 10 detectives and significant police resources dedicated to it.
He said the majority of inquiries have been completed and police are waiting only on medical expert reports to come through.
Once received, the reports will be reviewed and decisions on how to proceed will be made, according to the detective inspector.
Foster previously said the boy suffered a sustained beating - possibly over days – and the injuries were the worst he had seen in his 30-year career with police, comparing them to injuries suffered by murdered 6-year-old Hastings boy, James Whakaruru.
Price, who worked on several investigations involving children, said he was unaware of any staffing number issues involving this case.
"Unfortunately, no matter what we do there are going to be people who committed crimes of violence on innocent, defenceless children and we need to make provision to protect these children.
"I'm aiming to protect children who can't talk - that's if they are alive."