Justice Minister elect Simon Power says the new National government will consider toughening up sentences on child abusers in its first 100 days.

His comments follow guilty verdicts in the case of Nia Glassie, the Rotorua toddler whose three years of life ended in months of torment and her brutal slaying.

Five people were yesterday found guilty by a jury in the High Court of charges relating to Nia's death.

Brothers Wiremu and Michael Curtis, aged 19 and 22, were convicted of her murder.


The abuse they carried out on Nia including swinging her on a clothesline, placing her in a tumble drier and kicking her in the head - the act likely to have eventually killed her.

Nia's mother Lisa Kuka, 35, who was Wiremu Curtis's partner at the time, was found guilty on two counts of manslaughter for not protecting or getting medical help for her daughter.

They are now awaiting sentencing.

Mr Power today said National had campaigned on reviewing sentences for child abusers and he would make introducing legislation within the new government's first 100 days a "personal priority".

"Presently the age and vulnerability of a victim is an aggravating factor under that legislation," he said on Radio New Zealand.

"But one of the first steps we intend to take is to make sure there is a more specific reference point."

He said he would be asking officials to start work tomorrow.
Mr Power acknowledged the justice system had a limited ability to prevent such abuse.

"It is an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, but the justice system's job in part is to make sure that society's views of a particular type of offending are reflected in that sentencing structure."

When announcing National's policy last year Mr Power said hearing the details of Nia's case was "enough to haunt me for a lifetime".

He said at present the maximum sentence for assaulting a child was two years - one year less than the maximum for wilful ill treatment of an animal.

National would review the Sentencing Act and look at whether sentences were adequate and whether judges needed to place the age of a victim ahead of all other aggravating factors in sentencing.

"We must send the message that such acts are obscene."