Māori leaders call for Māori to speak up about child abuse

By Heta Gardiner

Māori need to take some responsibility for children killed by domestic violence.  That was the consensus amongst Māori leaders, academics and politicians, about physical abuse on children.

This has come to light after the death of three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri.

Māori are again rocked by the death of a young toddler, at the hands of adults.

There have been so many cases like this in past years, too many to list them all, but Nia Glassie, and the Kāhui twins are some that spring to mind.

But removing the emotion from those cases, perhaps we need to step back and ask, what is the solution? 

“The loss of any child robs us as a people of a future leader.”

Many Māori leaders have gathered and the issue on the top of their agenda, is three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri, who died in Taupō earlier this week.

Māori MPs like Kelvin Davis and Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell have been advocates on issues pertaining to domestic violence and they agree with many Māori leaders, that Māori need to speak up if they witness any domestic violence activity.

Davis says, “We must stop protecting our own. If we know it's happening within our whānau, we must speak out.”

Flavell says, “I don't believe if a child is being abused in our whānau, nobody knows about it.”

Mason Durie says, “It's a misinterpretation of mana.  People think that by telling people, it brings down the mana of that whānau, and it doesn't!”

According to Ministry of Social Development report released last month, in 2014, there were over 5000 reports of violent assaults on children.

An increase of 3.5% from the previous year.

Selwyn Katene says, “We need to look within ourselves and say, look, it's just not good enough!”

The issue of child abuse has found its way to Parliament.  One of National's top 10 goals was to reduce the number of children experiencing physical abuse.  But it seems the numbers haven't reversed. 

In the year to March 2015, there were 3144 assaults on children, an increase from 2014.

Meanwhile Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the issue isn't something that can be tackled overnight, or that the government can tackle alone.