The Beehive building

Child, Youth and Family statement to TV3 regarding Moko Rangitoheriri

16 May 2016.

Statement by Child, Youth and Family General Manager Operations, Kay Read.

We have every sympathy for Nicola and her family as they deal with the loss of Moko under such terrible circumstances.

However, Child, Youth and Family do not believe that it is in the best interests of her other children to be living with Nicola at this time because we do not have confidence she will keep them safe. For the time being the Family Court has agreed with that.

Nicola disagrees and as is her right she is fighting to regain custody through the Family Court.

We understand there is strong public interest in this case. When a young child is killed by people trusted to care for them everyone involved with that child will always be asking of themselves whether more could have been done.

It is important to note that Child, Youth and Family became involved days before Moko was killed because Tania Shailer, who has been convicted for her part in his death, had reported she was concerned that Moko and his siblings would not be safe with their mother, who was planning to collect them from Tania’s care. It is easy to make judgements in hindsight.

Two people have still to be sentenced for killing Moko, the Family Court has still to hear the custody case, and the Coroner has still to investigate the events leading up to Moko’s death.

We have provided what answers we can taking into account the various court processes still to be completed.

Response to further questions

Child, Youth and Family was not advised of any critical concerns about Moko.

As we have said, had there been any concerns from the family about Moko’s care by Tania and David Haerewa, Child, Youth and Family would have visited the home promptly to check on him.

As indicated, after Tania’s report of concern on 30 July, we made efforts to find out where Nicola was staying to follow up the concerns and make face-to-face contact.

We made arrangements for a social worker to speak to Nicola in Auckland. This conversation happened at Starship Hospital.

Prior to 10 August we had no dealings with Nicola’s lawyer and had no reason to contact her.

Answers to specific questions

Did CYFS notify the children's mother, Nicola Dally-Paki about the complaint from Tania Shailer?

We had begun an assessment and were making efforts to find out where Moko’s mother was staying to follow up the concerns.

If not why wasn't the mother contacted about the complaint as she had custody of the children?

See above

Why wasn't the mother told that Tania wasn't coping with the 6 children in her care?

Tania indicated this was not a long-term option, but she said she was prepared to look after the children for a bit longer. We felt there was agreement on this. It is important to remember that the focus of our assessment was on Nicola’s ability to meet her children’s needs, not on Tania’s care of the children.

How did CYFS respond to the July 30 meeting?

Child, Youth and Family received a report of concern from Tania on 30 July 2015. This was in relation to her concerns about Moko’s welfare if he was returned to his mother.

At no time did Tania suggest that Moko was at risk of being physically harmed or had been injured in her care.

Child, Youth and Family then made efforts to find out where Moko’s mother was staying to follow up the concerns.

A senior staff member called Tania on 7 August, three days before Moko was killed, to get further information in relation to his mother. This was part of the standard social work assessment which was underway.

Child, Youth and Family rejects completely any suggestion that it did nothing in response to Tania’s concerns.

Why did CYFS not check on Moko and his sister following the meeting with Tania Shailer?

Had there been any concerns from the family about Moko’s care by Tania and David Haerewa, Child, Youth and Family would have visited the home promptly to check on him.

The assessment underway would have involved a social worker visiting the home.

Did CYFS follow its protocols in the handling of this case?

Given all the information we had there was nothing to suggest that the children were unsafe in Tania’s care. This will be looked at further as we prepare for the Coroner’s inquest.

Is CYFS looking at changing its protocols?

The protocol is that if we have concerns about the safety of children, we will visit to confirm the children are safe. In this particular case we had no reason to believe the children were not safe. Again, this will be looked at as part of the Coroner’s inquest.

Could CYFS have done more?

Every agency involved with this family, along with family members and friends, wishes they had done something more. Child, Youth and Family will be meeting with other agencies locally to review Moko’s case to see what we can learn for the future.

Did CYFS let this family down?

We don’t believe so. The Coroner will consider this as part of his inquest.

Is the same senior social worker handling this case on the behalf of CYFS?

The same office is dealing with this case, but not the same person. In any case, social workers don’t act in isolation, but as part of a team. A number of offices and social workers are working to support the children of these families.

A number of other agencies also remain involved with the children.

Can CYFS explain why these children have not been returned to their mother and why she can't visit them?

This is the subject of on-going Family Court proceedings. See comments above.

Was CYFS aware David Haerewa was living with Tania Shailer?

No

Did Probations/Corrections inform CYFS that David Haerewa was being paroled to Tania Shailer's address?

You need to speak to Corrections about this.

If this did not happen - why not - as a result of the inquiries into James Whakaruru's death agencies were meant to share information?

See above

Was CYFS aware of David Haerewa's background?

We did not know David was living with Tania.

If not how could that be the case when Women's Refuge was aware of this?

You need to speak with Women’s Refuge.

What details did the senior social worker require when she phoned Tania Shailer 3 days before Moko's death?

The call was made by the Practice Leader, a senior staff member. He asked Tania for further information to help identify where Moko’s mum was staying. He also confirmed that Tania was prepared to keep looking after the children.

Were the issues she raised treated as 1. complaint, 2. report of concern or 3. notification?

In this context, these words mean the same thing.

Do you differentiate between a complaint, report of a concern or a notification?

Not in these circumstances.

Should they all result in a site visit to the children at home or school?

Had there been any concerns from the family about Moko’s care by Tania and David Haerewa, Child, Youth and Family would have visited the home promptly to check on him.

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