The family of a brutally beaten 4-year-old Flaxmere boy were known to Oranga Tamariki before the incident.

The boy suffered a sustained beating - possibly over days - at a Ramsey Cres address two weeks ago.

He was in a stable condition at Starship Children's Hospital on Thursday.

Deputy chief executive Children & Families South Alison McDonald told Hawke's Bay Today the boy's injuries were "extremely disturbing".


"We are continuing to work with the whānau to offer support and are working with other professionals in the Hawke's Bay," McDonald said.

The house on Ramsey Cres where a boy sustained suspicious injuries. Photo / Warren Buckland
The house on Ramsey Cres where a boy sustained suspicious injuries. Photo / Warren Buckland

"We can confirm that Oranga Tamariki has been working with this family previously, and the situation involves challenging circumstances."

Because of the ongoing police investigation they were unable to comment further.

Stuff has reported that it's not the first time the boy, who can't be identified for legal reasons, has been the victim of suspected abuse.

He was admitted to hospital on at least one other occasion, with injuries including broken bones.

Oranga Tamariki intervened and the boy was placed into the care of wider family and was returned to his immediate family shortly before Christmas.

Oranga Tamariki staff saw the drivers of harm leading to violence against children every day, she said.

"Family violence, drugs or alcohol are present in almost all cases," McDonald said.


"These are not easy issues to address and can't be solved by a single agency. Everyone has a role to play in caring for and protecting our children and young people."

While the investigation is ongoing, an outraged Flaxmere community is being urged to step back and let police do their job as abuse online towards the family of the 4-year-old boy grows.

Hastings District Council Flaxmere Ward councillor Henare O'Keefe urged calm and caution.

The community came out in droves to show their support for the boy and speak out against the act at a karakia at Flaxmere park on Wednesday night.

O'Keefe said the numbers were better than he expected and people got a chance to voice their feelings.

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O'Keefe said the community's reaction was "expected" in what he called a "volatile climate" but he advised the community to "let justice take its course".

"I am not surprised by the community's reaction.

"It is the community's way of taking ownership and responsibility for what has happened and their way of saying 'this is not us'," he said.

"A baby boy is in Starship and was beaten to within an inch of his life - there's angst and anger coming out. Those are the consequences, it is what is expected in a heinous crime on a defenceless kid."

But vigilante justice was not the way to help, he said.

"Let the police get on with their job. If you really want to help, look in the mirror," he said.

"Get to work, look after your kids, be good parents, love them, cherish them.

"But if you know something, step up and report it to the police."

Lynsey Abbott (centre grey dress), the organiser of the karakia, with a crowd gathered in Flaxmere for the bashed toddler. Photo / Paul Taylor
Lynsey Abbott (centre grey dress), the organiser of the karakia, with a crowd gathered in Flaxmere for the bashed toddler. Photo / Paul Taylor

Karakia organiser Lynsey Abbott said she was "heartbroken".

"All that's going through my mind, and has been going through my mind, is that this baby has been abused in his home [where people should have] loved him and protected him and sadly this hasn't happened."

"What would he have been thinking when he was going through all of that; when that was all happening to him?"

She organised the karakia in support of the boy so the community could come together as a whānau, as police investigated.

"Higher intervention is needed now."

A police spokeswoman said they were continuing to encourage family and anyone who might have information to come forward and speak to them.

"A number of officers are dedicated to this investigation and are making progress," she said.

Police understood the "distressing nature of the incident caused upset and concern".

"However we ask people to allow police to continue their work and urge against any speculation or action which may have the potential to impact these inquiries."