The story of Neihana Renata from Rotorua who went to daycare a happy healthy 22-month-old child with his twin sister on May 31, 2016, and came home with irreparable brain damage is heartbreaking.
Neihana choked on a piece of apple served to him at the daycare centre and despite efforts to help him by the time he was able to breathe again, the damage was done.
He can't walk, talk, feed himself or move without help.
This happened almost three years ago and it's the first I've heard of it. According to TV 1's Sunday programme the "Ministry of Education recorded this as an incident".
An incident? It wasn't an incident, it was a life-changing event not only for Neihana but for his entire family.
It took Evolve Education Group nearly a year to change their food policy. Why they didn't do it the day after or at the very most a month after Neihana choked I don't know.
It wouldn't have been a knee jerk reaction, it would have been a simple solution to prevent this ever happening again.
Now apple and other hard fruits and vegetables are only served to under-three year olds if they are peeled and grated, cooked or mashed.
I know it's not the only terrible thing to happen to children while in care. There was that awful accident in a day care centre in Auckland when a tree fell on four children. And no, we shouldn't ban all trees from day care centres.
That would be a knee-jerk reaction.
Staff looking after little children have enough to worry about as it is so by taking the simple step of banning food that children could choke on is to me certainly not an over the top action — it's sensible and forward thinking.
Choking on food is scary.
I know — it happened to me. I had made garam masala and left a bay leaf in it. I took a big forkful, chewed and swallowed. However I didn't realise the leaf was in my mouth until it lodged itself in my throat. I tried to cough it up, but couldn't, tried again, couldn't.
It took me less than 10 seconds to realise I was in trouble. Luckily I wasn't eating alone. I looked at Mr Neat, who was muttering something about gulping my food, stood up and pointed to my throat. He said a word I can't repeat and thumped me on the back. That didn't work, so then he sort of did the Heimlich Manoeuvre — that dislodged it.
It was awful.
Anywhere there are a lot of children eating it can get a bit chaotic, drinks get spilled, food gets dropped, someone takes someone else's food, there are tears and tantrums.
It would be easy to miss a child in trouble. I'm not saying that's what happened in Neihana's case but it's easy to see how it could happen like that.
Sometimes we need to take simply take action and make changes — just ask Jacinda.
Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.