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Mum admits child neglect

– Girl made to stand on head

– Children were left “dirty, smelly”

– Nits went untreated


A 10-year-old girl was forced to repeatedly stand on her head on a wooden floor in punishment for failing to look after her two younger siblings.

She was also found to have open abscesses on her scalp from untreated nits, with all three children described as “appearing malnourished”, and having developmental and learning problems.

The three Wairarapa children often would have to be bathed and clothed at school and pre-school, where they were sent without lunch and sometimes without being given breakfast.

The details emerged after the mother of the children, currently aged 10, 4 and 3, pleaded guilty at Masterton District Court earlier this month to five charges of neglect.

She was granted interim name suppression to protect the identities of the children, and was released on bail to be sentenced in January.

Before being sentenced she must undergo psychological testing.

Documents show that the three children suffered ongoing neglect in being left “dirty, smelly, not given medicine” as well as not receiving “adequate food and water”.

The eldest child was made to look after her siblings from about the age of six, with regular duties including bathing them, preparing formula and feeding them.

On one occasion she was not allowed to attend a school event as she had to look after her siblings.

In June 2016, the girl was made to stand on her head on a wooden floor at the house, and remain there until she was told to come down.

The reason given was that her two siblings did not want to play with her.

When she lowered herself early she was made to repeat the position until she was allowed to leave.

The following day she complained to school staff of having a very sore head and neck, which prompted a call to police.

Documents state that numerous agencies and support services were involved.

A co-accused, who is the father of two of the children, has pleaded not guilty to neglect charges as well as others, including assault.

He will reappear before the court in December, but must undergo neuro-psychological screening in the meantime.

His lawyer said it was possible his client suffered from some form of “intellectual disability”.

The children are now in the care of Child, Youth and Family.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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