"Breastfeeding mothers should not consume alcohol."
These were the not-particularly-helpful words of Coroner Debra Bell that came after a tiny 2-month-old baby girl was found dead. Her blood alcohol levels were six times the legal adult drink-driving limit. Six.
The comment comes just one week after Coroner Tim Scott harshly blamed the parents of Gisborne girl, Carla Neems, who was almost 7 when she was hit and killed by a recycling truck. Scott said Neems' parents' confidence in letting her walk home from school without adult company was "misplaced".
Surely, it's not just me noticing a gross discrepancy here.
On one hand, parents are being blamed – maybe even shamed - for something hundreds of families choose for their kids every day in New Zealand.
On the other, a weak comment, announcing what everyone already knows.
I get it - what is Coroner Bell supposed to say? She's between a rock and a hard place when a dead baby is six times the adult drink-driving limit. Where does one even begin?
But we've had the country up in arms about Oranga Tamariki uplifting children from parents in recent weeks.
It's all very emotive watching babies taken from parents completely out of context.
You've got the organisation responsible who can't say much about the "whys" without breaching privacy and getting in trouble for that. They're gagged.
But we've had five children under 10 killed by homicide this year alone.
If you ask me, the country's outrage is what is misplaced.
I would argue there are dozens, potentially even more, New Zealand children currently in care they should be uplifted from.
Sapphire Rose Moengaroa Williams would have been one of them.
Big questions need to be asked around what is happening with Sapphire's twin and five other siblings.
Do they remain with their parents?
Will the parents face charges for – at least - failing to provide the necessaries of life? (Ie. an environment where a child is not found to have a blood alcohol level six times the adult drink-driving limit.
Let me tell you about a time I was three times the current adult drink-driving limit (not from drink-driving, thankfully).
I spent years as a police reporter and used to have drinks with cops in the police station bar.
One night, after a particularly large Friday night celebration, the station was quiet so they offered to breath-test me to give me a measure of how drunk I was - and to give context to some of the drunks they deal with.
When I blew in the breath-tester, I recorded a breath alcohol level three times our current limit.
I had been drinking beer and tequila shots (as you do when you're in your 20s).
I went home and vomited – a lot. I continued throwing up until 6pm the next day when I finally felt better. This remains one of the worst hangovers of my life.
At 169cm tall, 58kg and quite used to a drink or several, I was "just" three times the limit and that's what it did to me.
And little two-month old Sapphire – as she reached the age where she should technically have been born - was six times the limit.
We don't know what Sapphire's mother's alcohol limit was, although she admitted to drinking 18 cans of pre-mix bourbon and colas the day Sapphire died.
It is hard to believe alarms wouldn't have sounded with care providers around this family, which was homeless and awaiting a Housing New Zealand home, and had premature twins born at 33 weeks who were on prescription iron and vitamin C.
It's probable that alarms were raised, but there is little anyone is legally entitled to do until it is too late.
Police were satisfied that there were no untoward or suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.
A spokeswoman for Oranga Tamariki said the ministry assisted the Coroner with the investigation but the Coroner "did not make any recommendations or comments in relation to Oranga Tamariki".
I guess it's all just too hard.