Money donated toward playground equipment by the family of a little girl raped in a campground more than seven years ago is still languishing unused in a bank account.
The Europe-based family of the girl, who was 5 at the time of the rape and assault at a Tūrangi campground in December 2011, donated $5000 of the money raised for them after the shocking attack on their daughter.
The girl was asleep next to her younger brother in a caravan at the then Club Habitat campground when she was attacked by a drunk stranger, 16-year-old Raurangi Mark Marino.
The horrific assault provoked an outpouring of national shame and New Zealanders donated gifts and money totalling $62,000 to the family.
After their daughter was discharged from hospital and before they left the country, the family donated $20,000 of the money to several organisations including $5000 to Taupō District Council to go toward playground equipment in Tūrangi.
At the time they said in a statement: "We were amazed at New Zealanders' generosity. We in no way blame the Tūrangi community for what happened and so we wanted to give something tangible back.
"We understand they are fundraising for a new children's playground and so we want $5000 spent on a piece of equipment that young people in Tūrangi can enjoy."
The rest of the money was donated to paediatric surgical instruments and items for the children's ward at Waikato Hospital, as well as support for ECPAT Child Alert NZ Ltd and Victim Support Hamilton.
However, the $5000 given to the council has not yet been used.
Taupō District Council chief executive Gareth Green said the money had been tagged for a playground upgrade in Tūrangi and was "sitting in a suspense account until the project goes ahead".
Green said there had not been a playground upgrade in Tūrangi since the council received the donation.
"We have been working closely with [Ngāti] Tūwharetoa hapū [Ngāti] Tūrangitukua on developing a management plan for all the reserves in Tūrangi, which they own following their Treaty settlement, to ensure we get the best outcome for the district," Green said.
"That includes development of a playground at Te Kapua Park which is planned to get under way in the next financial year. At that time, we will use the donation as the family intended."
Green said the council's contact with the family had broken down over the years.
"Unfortunately, our contact with the family was through a conduit at the Waikato District Health Board who no longer works there and we do not have the family's contact details.
"If anyone does know how to contact them we would be pleased to touch base and let them know where we are at with the project, and also to supply them with updates as the project advances."
Tūrangi-Tongariro Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman Sandra Greenslade was unaware of the donation.
"It sounds to me like it's been forgotten. That's very sad because when a family donates like that, acknowledging the wonderful support the Tūrangi people gave them, it's a lovely thing to do.
"They don't want to be acknowledged anywhere. They just want to know it's gone to the children of the town."
In April last year the council announced development of the Tūrangi Reserves Management Plan was on hold pending further discussions between it and Ngāti Tūrangitukua.
The management plan, which includes Te Kapua Park, was initiated in March 2016 under the Tūrangi Reserves Management Committee.
However, at a workshop held by the committee last March and following public consultation on the plan, it was agreed to put it on hold "until discussions had been held".
Committee co-chairman Tangonui Kingi said that was still the case and that he couldn't comment on the donation but confirmed the playground was earmarked in the next financial year.
Ngāti Tūrangitukua have since agreed to look at the playground upgrade outside of the wider reserves management plan development.
The victim, who would be 13 now, and her family were unable to be contacted by the Herald.
Meanwhile Marino, now 23, is still behind bars after he was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years for burglary, sexual violation by rape and causing grievous bodily harm.
A Parole Board hearing decision from October last year said he was not seeking release but would be eligible again next month after completing a child sex offender treatment programme.
Marino, whose father was a Mongrel Mob member, was assessed in a March 2018 psychologist's report as having a high risk of violent offending and moderate to high risk of sexual offending.