A worker at the Maori Women's Refuge has denied she was told Moko Rangitoheriri was being assaulted while in the care of Tania Shailer and did nothing.
"If I saw any signs of abuse, I would have reported it," said the worker in evidence at the inquest of the toddler in the Rotorua District Court this morning.
Yesterday, the inquest heard evidence from a senior detective that the social worker originally told police that Moko's sister told the worker that "Aunty Tania would punch Moko" - but did nothing about it.
Moko later died from injuries inflicted by Shailer and her partner David Haerewa. They were jailed in June 2016 for 17 years with a minimum non-parole period of nine years after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
According to police, the worker said Moko's sister also disclosed she was hitting Moko.
"Aunty Tania would punch Moko but she made sure to say that the punches didn't hurt," is how police recorded the worker's conversation with Moko's sister.
The worker then asked Shailer about it, according to Detective Inspector Lew Warner, but Shailer denied hitting Moko.
The social worker then changed her story to police, said Warner, to say the worker never spoke to Shailer.
No "report of concern" was ever filed.
But in giving evidence in front of the coroner, The worker said her statement to police about how "Aunty Tania would punch Moko" was either "inaccurately written or understood".
The worker said Moko's sister said Shailer hit her - not Moko - when the siblings were fighting.
"She also told me that Aunty Tania would punch her to stop the arguing," said the worker. "I immediately asked her to demonstrate what she meant by punch and she folded the tips of fingers and pushed my shoulder."
"As she was pushing my shoulder she said 'but it didn't hurt'."
The worker brought up this discussion with her manager and it was agreed this was a disciplinary measure to protect the sister from Moko.
However, according to a report by Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson, the worker's first comments about Shailer hitting Moko were verified by a social worker who witnessed the original conversation with police.
"This retraction is clearly as a result of [the worker] realising she should have reported what were obviously signs that child abuse was going on in the Shailer/Haewera household," wrote Wilson in a report handed to the inquest.
In her evidence, the worker said she never made a retraction.
"I was good at my job. If I saw any signs of abuse, I would have reported it."
The worker said the "false information" in the media about the supposed disclosure by Moko's sister had a huge negative impact on herself and her family.
"I too hope this inquest gets to the truth."
A statement from her former boss, Mahia Te Tomo, read to the court corroborated the worker's version of events.
Te Tomo said he muddled the names of Tania Shailer and Moko's sister when speaking to a reporter and later made a retraction.