Sharples horrified at child’s alleged abuse

NZPA 29 July 2007
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is horrified at another alleged Maori child abuse case, but says it’s too simplistic to blame the issue on ethnicity. Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie is currently in a coma in Rotorua Hospital after allegedly being hung from a washing line and spun in a clothes dryer. Four people have been jointly charged with assaulting the toddler over three weeks and a fifth person has been charged with assaulting her over four months. Nia’s injuries come a little more than a year after the deaths of three-month-old twins Cru and Chris Kahui highlighted the issue of child abuse among Maori into the public spotlight.Mr Sharples said Nia’s case was very saddening. “How do I feel when I hear they’re Maori? I feel ashamed. I feel guilty,” he told the Sunday Star-Times. “Where does this behaviour come from?” Mr Sharples said the alleged behaviour in this case was “absolutely intolerable”. However, he said problems of child abuse stemmed from a dysfunctional culture which happened among poverty-stricken and underachieving communities, a group in which Maori were too highly represented….The case has prompted Family First National Director Bob McCroskie to call for a non-political commission of inquiry into child abuse, increased support for parenting groups and community organisations working with at-risk families. He also called for a media shock campaign similar to the one for road safety and greater sentences for child abusers. “Child abuse is greater than any political agenda, will require a huge amount of honesty, and must be owned and solved by New Zealanders.”