One of those who gave evidence into the inquest of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie believes the woman convicted of abusing the tot should still have the right to be a mother - and has classed the removal of her newborn baby as "inhumane".

The newborn baby of Oriwa Kemp was reportedly handed over to Child, Youth and Family just hours after she was born last week - the third child of hers now in state care.

Rotorua's Merepeka Raukawa-Tait has spoken out against the move and believes Child, Youth and Family need to answer questions around the support given to Kemp leading up to the baby's birth.

Kemp was one of five people jailed for their role in the death of the 3-year-old in August 2007 - sentenced to three years and four months' jail on charges of ill-treating and assaulting Nia and two other children in the house.


The abuse included throwing shoes and balls at her, calling her ugly, being involved in forcing the toddler outside in the cold and into a sandpit naked. She was also present when Nia was put on a clothesline, which was spun around until she fell to the ground.

Mrs Raukawa-Tait, the former head of Women's Refuge, said the safety of the child should be the priority but she didn't believe the child should have just been seized because the mother came with history.

"I believe it is rather an inhumane response to remove a newborn from its mother."

She said she hoped a solid evaluation had been done into the safety of the baby and said one could only assume the child had been taken because it was in its best interest.

"Have they just said the child is our priority so to hell with the mother? I just hope it wasn't a kneejerk reaction."

Mrs Raukawa-Tait said they had known for the past nine months she was going to have a baby and there should have been appropriate support put in place then to help prepare her, as well as in the years since she had been released from prison.

"Everyone has the right to come back from where they once were ... this woman was kicked to the curb because she has history."

Kemp's history couldn't be brushed under the table, but that didn't mean she'd lost any right to be a mother, Mrs Raukawa-Tait said.


A Child, Youth and Family spokesperson confirmed Kemp had no children in her care and said decisions were made that were in the best interest of the baby and with the support of family with the oversight of the Family Court. Taking a child after birth happened in "very serious situations where it was determined that there were no other options for ensuring the infant's safety".