One of those who gave evidence into the inquest of Rotorua
toddler Nia Glassie believes the woman convicted of abusing
the tot should still have the right to be a mother - and has
classed the removal of her newborn baby as "inhumane".
The newborn baby of Oriwa Kemp was reportedly handed over to
Child, Youth and Family just hours after she was born last
week - the third child of hers now in state care.
Rotorua's Merepeka Raukawa-Tait has spoken out against the
move and believes CYF needs to answer questions around the
support given to Kemp leading up to the baby's birth.
Kemp was one of five people jailed for their role in the
death of the 3-year-old in August 2007 - sentenced to three
years and four months' jail on charges of ill-treating and
assaulting Nia and two other children in the house.
The abuse included throwing shoes and balls at her, calling
her ugly, being involved in forcing the toddler outside in
the cold and into a sandpit naked.
She was also present when Nia was put on a clothesline, which
was spun around until she fell to the ground.
Mrs Raukawa-Tait, the former head of Women's Refuge, said the
safety of the baby should be the priority but she didn't
believe the child should have just been seized because the
mother came with history.
"I believe it is rather an inhumane response to remove a
newborn from its mother."
She said she hoped a solid evaluation had been done into the
safety of the baby and said one could only assume the child
had been taken because it was in its best interests.
"Have they just said 'the child is our priority so to hell
with the mother'? I just hope it wasn't a kneejerk reaction."
Mrs Raukawa-Tait said they had known for the past nine months
she was going to have a baby and there should have been
appropriate support put in place then to help prepare her, as
well as in the years since she had been released from prison.
"Everyone has the right to come back from where they once
were ... this woman was kicked to the curb because she has
Kemp's history couldn't be brushed under the table, but that
didn't mean she'd lost any right to be a mother, Mrs
A CYF spokesperson confirmed Kemp had no children in her care
and said decisions were made that were in the best interests
of the baby and with the support of family with the oversight
of the Family Court. Taking a child after birth happened in
"very serious situations where it was determined that there
were no other options for ensuring the infant's safety".
- Rebecca Malcolm of the Rotorua Daily Post