Victim support advocate Ruth Money says the death of a 16-month-old boy could have been avoided.

Police launched a homicide investigation on Sunday following the toddler's death after he succumbed to serious head injuries.

Last week the Herald reported the toddler's mother had five older children removed from her care by Oranga Tamariki - this child was not.

Asked whether she thought the death of the child was preventable, Money told the Weekend Collective on Newstalk ZB it likely could have.


"It seems like utter madness [the child was in her care], on the outside, it seems preventable," she said.

"I don't know this case so I'm only speculating based on my experience but I would suggest ... there's all sorts of dramas going on for this whanau.

"There is alcohol, there are drugs, there's self-confidence and self-love issues."

Starship Hospital staff alerted police to the case and it is understood the child's injuries may have been deliberately inflicted.

Victim support advocat Ruth Money. Photo / Dean Purcell
Victim support advocat Ruth Money. Photo / Dean Purcell

The 16-month-old was rushed to hospital on June 23 around 7.30pm, however, he was pronounced dead on Saturday afternoon.

Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Baber said the death was an "absolute tragedy" and a team of 20 investigators would work on the case.

"A scene examination has been conducted at an address in Auckland City and a post-mortem will be carried out," he said.

"We are continuing to speak with a number of people in relation to this investigation and have no further updates at this stage."


Oranga Tamariki is the government department responsible for the wellbeing of children, specifically those at risk of harm.

Based on her own experiences and "very personal opinion", Money said the agency was not fit for purpose and changes needed to be made.

"I don't think that the service is delivering everything that it needs to do to make sure the community or whānau flourish.

"When you take [children] out of a dangerous environment and allegedly put them in a safe environment, which is state care, they often come out worse than they started.

"I think the problem is bigger than all of these uplifts, absolutely we need to look at that, but we need to step back and look at humanity."

Last month Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft announced a review into Oranga Tamariki in relation to its uplift policies.

It followed controversy following an attempted uplift of a young Māori mother's baby from Hawke's Bay Hospital in May.