Art cannot bring battered children back to life - but the names of 136 of them are challenging New Zealand society in a haunting artistic memorial.
Auckland textile artist Thelma McGough and 136 embroiderers have stitched the names of children killed by their parents and caregivers between 1990 and last year into a 14m memorial quilt, "Counterpain".
Ms McGough, 69, unrolled the quilt on Mt Hobson above the southern motorway yesterday in support of another project for abused children - a call by Ngaruawahia mother Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney for people to lay soft toys beside the country's 200 local war memorials on Saturday, September 3.
Like Ms Sweeney, Ms McGough was shocked when she came to New Zealand from England with her Kiwi husband in 1996 by the way New Zealanders remembered those who died in distant wars yet could not protect children in their own homes.
"When I arrived in this country two things struck me as different," she said.
"One was the number of children that died in this way. The other was that, wherever I travelled all around the country, even in the tiniest places like Glenorchy on Lake Wakatipu or Karekare Beach, there are memorials with the names of soldiers who went off to fight for the country I came from.
"It seemed to me that there needed to be a memorial to the children as well as to those who went off to fight for a British war."
Over the years she began to write down the names of abused children. In 1999, for example, her quilt lists River, Keziah, Simon, Winiata, Christina, Nicholas, Israel Te Apatu, James, Mereana.
"They had very beautiful names, and then something awful happened to them," she said.
In 2008 she almost ran over a doll in the middle of the road. She stopped, went back and picked it up.
"It was dismembered. The eyes were bashed in. It had red marks on it that made it look as if it was bloodied. When I found that doll I thought I'd make an installation piece with the doll and a child's cot and a quilt with the seven names that I'd collected.
"Then I was dumbfounded and overwhelmed to discover that there were more and more and more.
"I used to be a TV producer and researcher so I knew how to research. So I had to abandon the idea of doing the small installation piece with the child's cot."
Facing what was then a mammoth project, she asked the North Island's Embroiderers Guild for volunteers to embroider one child's name each for the quilt.
The volunteers also researched the lives of "their" children and made A4-sized mini-quilts which Ms McGough stitched together into fabric memorial books.
She also worked with quilters Patchworkers of Ponsonby to make 136 fabric cubes, each with the first initial of a dead child's name, containing bells which tolled for the lost child's soul when a living child played with them.
Ms McGough, who has three adult sons and six grandchildren, has put her own soul into the project.
"I had a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old [grandchildren] when I started the work," she said.
Although the public often saw child abuse as a "Maori problem", she found fatal child abuse cases across the social spectrum.
"One businessman in Christchurch killed three of his children," she said.
She believes we can do something about it.
"I just think it can be changed in the way that smoking has been changed over the years.
"When I was young we all got bashed, we all had the cane in school. Now that is absolutely unthinkable."
She hopes her quilt will help society to change.
"I do feel it should hang in a public place," she said. "I always felt it should be hung in the Beehive so every time they thought of cutting services to children or to nurseries they had a second thought."
When: Sat, Sept 3, before noon.
What: Lay soft toys at war memorials to honour dead children.
Where: Every local war memorial around New Zealand.