Child Youth and Family is to review how it handled a case where five children were so badly neglected they had to eat rotten food.

"CYF received reports of concern in relation to the family prior to 2015 and we worked with the family on the presenting issues alongside other agencies," CYF Auckland regional director Sharon Thom said in a written statement.

"In 2015 when the children were found neglected home alone, they immediately came into CYF care and the mother was charged."

Now the kids "are thriving with whanau caregivers", Thom said.


Their mother, Tala Pita, 33, of Manurewa, was today sentenced at the Manukau District Court to six months community detention and 18 months intensive supervision for five charges of wilful neglect.

She'll also have a curfew from 7pm to 7am during her community sentence.

Judge Gus Andree Wiltens told Pita: "You deserted them and left them to their own devices."

The court heard that Pita often left her children at home on their own in September and October 2015.

The cupboards were bare but for mouldy bread and corned beef. They had to eat the bread because there was nothing else to eat.

CYF would "review whether everything that could have been done was done for this family" after an independent expert panel that reviewed the case found CYF should have intervened earlier, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Fairfax.

"And that's why we're shifting our focus from a system that simply reacts to a crisis to one that gets in early to help these families."

Members of the public who were concerned about other families should let authorities know, she said.

Thom said the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, which will replace CYF in April, hoped to place "greater emphasis on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention" than CYF had done.