November 02, 2023
Toddler death highlights care gap
Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says the death of a toddler in Lower Hutt three weeks ago shows the need for a Māori-driven welfare agency.
One-year-old Ruthless Empire Ahipene-Wall was taken to Hutt Hospital on October 22, up to 12 hours after receiving injuries which proved fatal.
Police say the three adults at the house – his mother and a couple – are persons of interest, and they are engaging with other family members to try and build a picture of the weeks that led up to the death.
While baby Ru was in Oranga Tamariki’s case management system, he had not been in the agency’s custody or care.
Ms Raukawa Tait says questions will also be asked about the support given to the family and what could have been done better.
“We should be up front with our investment which we get into the families early enough and we provide the support by the people who are respected by the families and who the families will trust and that has never been and will ever be a government agency, It just doesn’t have the mana or the respect from our families. So the intervention and the support and the help must always come from Māori,” she says.
Ms Raukawa-Tait says the signs are always here when such tragedies are assessed in hindsight.