CYF left baby girl with sex offender for 15 months

NZ Herald 9 June 2012
Child, Youth and Family has admitted it could have done better after leaving a baby girl with a convicted sex offender for more than 15 months because it was told he was her father. The girl, now 3, has been returned to a foster family in Wanganui from Christchurch after a paternity test ordered 15 months ago confirmed convicted sex offender Mark Wikiriwhi Hetaraka was not her father. The little girl had been placed in the care of Hetaraka’s sister by CYF after the child’s mother said Hetaraka was the father. Hetaraka’s offences include the brutal rape of a Japanese woman in Taupo in 2000 and the robbery and bashing of a French tourist in 2010. CYF southern regional director Kelly Anderson called it a complex family situation with many caring people who all wanted to provide the girl with a loving home.

Wanganui lawyer Hamish McDouall, who acted for the foster parents, said that in his opinion CYF had taken the line of least resistance. “To my mind there was a real lack of gumption in this case by CYF. Placing vulnerable children is more than following the bureaucratic line, ticking boxes. It’s all about stability for the child.”