Would you call CYF on a hunch?

That’s the question posed by Stacey Kirk

We must all act to help our abused children – because getting outraged afterwards can’t save Moko. That’s why we are calling for a ministerial inquiry to discover how we can do better to protect our most innocent.

It was not just the two people who beat, tortured and eventually killed three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri who knew the little boy was at risk. There were others.

Tania Shailer and David Haerewa committed unimaginably sadistic violence against a toddler. Some of the others who failed him are good people.

This small boy’s seven-year-old sister cried for help, when she told a Womens’ Refuge social worker.

The little girl who felt so responsible for the plight of her brother spoke up, despite one of their carers (now killer) Tania Shailer – a friend of the children’s mother – telling her she’d kill her parents if she said anything.

The other one of Moko’s killers, Shailer’s partner, David Haerewa, is related to notorious child-killer Ben Haerewa, who was jailed in 1999 for killing his four-year-old stepson James Whakaruru in the Hawke’s Bay.

This public culture of not intervening is beyond disgraceful, so here’s the list of people and organisations that we know knew something – there are likely more: 

  • The Maori Women’s Refuge social worker: she followed up the seven-year-old’s claim by ringing Shailer. Shailer lied and blamed Moko’s sister. She said she feared for Moko’s safety once he was back in the hands of his mother.
  • The refuge was aware Shailer herself had escaped from a violent relationship with Haerewa and had returned to that relationship after Haerewa was let out of prison.
  • The same social worker was there when Shailer went in to CYF to say the children were at risk of being exposed to domestic violence.
  • Shailer told CYF she wasn’t coping with Moko, 11 days before his death. CYF denies being told Moko was being hurt.
  • Shailer told a friend Moko had fallen from a woodpile, when his situation was becoming dire. The friend was concerned, but never spoke up when Shailer declined her offer to drive them to the hospital.

At no point did anyone go to see Moko.

But it’s all OK, because some Maori woman is now offended about a cartoon and has laid a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.


As part of the CYF overhaul, the Government is considering a far more wide-reaching information sharing agreement that would mean a child’s safety – even if they’re not in as imminent danger as Moko was – would trump family privacy. This clearly needs to happen.

An inquiry won’t help Moko. But in pointing to what went wrong this time, and what we can do better, it will save other children’s lives.

As for the rest of us, it’s time to figure out the level of violence we’re comfortable with before actually making a call to CYF.

I hope Tolley has some good ideas.   Because so far nothing has been achieved, and kids keep dying.

I don’t want to even think about the kids that don’t die and make it to a headline.  There have to be a fair few that are living in a hell right now, and nobody cares… enough to make a difference.


– Stacey Kirk, Sunday Star Times

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.