A teenage mum has been charged with hurting her baby by holding his head under water.

The 19-year-old allegedly tried to suffocate and drown her child more than three years ago, but has now been charged after confiding in a counsellor.

The mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her son, faces two charges of cruelty to a child dating back to 2009 and 2010.

Court documents said the woman, who was 16 years old at the time, allegedly held a pillow over her son's head, and subsequently held him under water.


The accused told the Herald on Sunday she was a "good mum" who struggled after her son's birth.

"The system systematically lets people down," she said. "They think they are doing a fantastic job but just look at the statistics."

She had recently got her life back on track and dreamed of becoming a primary school teacher.

"You tell me if I am a bad mother when I was told through a study at Auckland University my son has the speech and cognitive function of a 4-year-old," she said. "He has had everything, he has got everything and they just f***** it up and put it in my face."

Her son, who is now 3 years old, is in his grandmother's care.

Waitakere Police laid the representative charges against the mother days before Christmas. A representative charge means the offending is alleged to have occurred on more than one occasion.

The Herald on Sunday applied to view the court file but defence lawyer Graeme Minchin submitted a memorandum in opposition.

He said the allegations were "essentially self-reported" after she disclosed information to her counsellor who notified Child Youth and Family.

His client had suffered from post-natal depression and blamed the system for a lack of support, he wrote in his submission.

"After giving birth she returned to school and her mother's home," Minchin said. "Despite having previously moved from her mother's care to a girl's home no support systems appear to have been put in place."

Child, Youth and Family acting general manager operations Grant Bennett would not comment on the specific case as it was before the court. However, he said the child was "doing well" with family.

He said CYF provides support to teenagers who become pregnant under their care.

"This would include working with the wider family and other agencies. We would also separately assess the needs of the child and work with the child's family to ensure his or her safety," Bennett said.