To mark the Herald on Sunday's 15th anniversary, we have gone back to some of our biggest newsmakers to find out where they are now.

The death of Nia Glassie remains one of New Zealand's most horrific and high profile child murders.

The 3-year-old Rotorua toddler died in August 2007 at the hands of her mother and stepfather and other adults living in her home.

She was abused for months leading up to her brutal death and when details emerged of what the toddler had been subjected to New Zealanders were appalled.


Nia was admitted to Starship Hospital with critical head injuries in July 2007.

The little girl was put on life support, but died 13 days later.

Five people were charged in connection with her death - her mother Lisa Kuka and her partner Wiremu Curtis; his brother Michael Curtis and his partner Oriwa Kemp; and Michael Pearson.

The abuse was mainly perpetrated by Kuka's then-partner Wiremu Curtis and his brother Michael, while she was at work.

The brothers had decided they did not like Nia, that she was "ugly" and they began to abuse, attack and assault her for their own entertainment.

In the lead up to her death Nia had been put in a clothes dryer spinning for 30 minutes on a hot setting, hung on a clothesline and spun around, held over a burning fire, used to practise wrestling moves, folded into a couch and sat upon, shoved into piles of rubbish and cold baths, dragged half naked through a sandpit, thrown at walls and dropped from heights, and had various objects hurled at her.

The child was also kicked, slapped, beaten and jumped on.

After the fatal attack on Nia in July 2007, believed to be repeated kicks to her head, she was left for 33 hours before medical help was sought.

Kuka found Nia had wet her bed, which was unusual, and would not wake up. She bathed the child, who was effectively unconscious.


But she did nothing to help the injured girl until the next day, after Kuka had spent the night celebrating Michael Curtis' 21st birthday.

As Kuka, the Curtis brothers and others partied outside at their rented Rotorua house, Nia lay dying in her bed.

When she was admitted to Starship Nia's brain damage was so severe that she could no longer breathe for herself.

A jury found the Curtis brothers guilty of Nia's murder.

Michael Curtis. Photo / Alan Gibson
Michael Curtis. Photo / Alan Gibson

Kuka was convicted of two counts of manslaughter - one for failing to provide Nia the necessaries of life and the other for failing to protect the child from violence, thereby causing her death.

Pearson and Kemp were found not guilty of manslaughter, but convicted of assaulting the little girl.

So where are the killers and abusers now?

Lisa Kuka

Kuka was granted parole in 2015 but less than two years later was back behind bars after she breached her release conditions by living at an unapproved property.

The Parole Board felt that made her an undue risk to the community and ordered her return to prison.

Kuka had earlier been refused parole in 2013, with the board ruling then she remained a risk.

Lisa Kuka, Nia Glassie's mother. Photo / Stephen Parker
Lisa Kuka, Nia Glassie's mother. Photo / Stephen Parker

At the time the board heard that Kuka had "taken a long time to come to terms with her responsibility for the death of her daughter".

Only through psychological counselling had she acknowledge her role in the "persistent and violent abuse, and ultimate death" of Nia.

Kuka was released on parole again in March 2017 - shortly before her statutory release date from prison in October that year.

Michael and Wiremu Curtis

The murderous brothers remain in prison.

Wiremu Curtis. Photo / Alan Gibson
Wiremu Curtis. Photo / Alan Gibson

Both were given a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period.

They are not eligible to seek an early release from prison until February 2025.

Oriwa Kemp

Kemp was 17 when Nia died and 19 when she was jailed for assaulting the little girl.

At the time she had her own child who she had given birth to at 14.

Since then Kemp has been in and out of court and prison on various charges including domestic violence.

She has given birth to four more children and all were uplifted by Oranga Tamariki.

All five youngsters remain in care and Kemp has very limited access to them.

She is currently awaiting sentencing on new charges of assault, theft and breaching intensive supervision conditions.

A charge of disorder was withdrawn.

It is understood the assault occurred on Karangahape Rd in central Auckland soon after Kemp was caught stealing a bottle of Coca-Cola and can of Pringles chips.

Oriwa Kemp was jailed over the 2007 child-abuse death of Nia Glassie. Photo / Michael Craig
Oriwa Kemp was jailed over the 2007 child-abuse death of Nia Glassie. Photo / Michael Craig

Kemp will be sentenced later this month.

In 2018 she spoke to the Herald about her troubled life and Nia.

Kemp revealed to the Herald that she left home at 12 to live with her boyfriend Michael

By 13 she was addicted to methamphetamine and being subjected to regular domestic violence.

She gave birth to her first child at 14 and her mother died a year later, pushing Kemp further into a spiral of drugs and destruction.

Michael Pearson

Pearson is also back behind bars.

In March this year he was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court to 20 months in prison for robbery.

Michael Pearson. Photo / Stephen Parker
Michael Pearson. Photo / Stephen Parker

Are you worried about the safety of a child?

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a child, call 111.

Alternatively contact your local police station - click her for a list.

Or, contact Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children on 0508 326 459 for advice or click here to visit the agency's website for more information.