Topic: Native Affairs

Grandmother speaks out about what happen to her mokopuna

By Renee Kahukura-Iosefa
  • Auckland

The grandmother of a young teenage girl who was forgotten and left alone at a Ministry for Vulnerable Children’s office after hours is speaking out.

The Ministry for Vulnerable Children Deputy Chief Executive Glynis Sandland says, “What happened was unacceptable in terms of the process we followed. We've clearly identified where we missed things. They were preventable inexcusable.  We didn’t check at the end of the day that somebody was on site and it is the normal process to go through.”

The family told Te Kaea that for eight hours the young girl was placed in a room. She had no water or food and never used the toilet. The grandmother of the young girl says, “No one inquired after her. No one opened the door. She was left in the room and that is where she stayed all day from 1 o'clock in the afternoon to 8 at night when the cleaner said, looking through below the glass window, she saw her feet and realised somebody was in the room.”

The incident occurred six weeks ago, but it was only recently made public by The Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

Media statement by the Ministry says, “About six weeks ago Police brought a 14 year old girl into one of our Auckland offices at about 1pm.  We have a nice quiet room for children and she was placed in there and went to sleep.”

The grandmother says when she arrived after 2pm to pick her mokopuna up she was told by two staff members that the young girl was not at the office. “When I arrived there I told them who I was and I have come to pick my mokopuna up they said no we have nobody here by that name.

“I made it clear to please give my message to the social worker that I had another mokopuna to pick up from school and when she came back she could contact me.  I wasn’t contacted by the social worker until 9pm that night I wasn’t told that my mokopuna was left in the office.  My granddaughter told me herself what had happened.”

Oranga Tamariki would not comment further on specifics while the investigation into those who were involved is completed.

“There were things that could have been prevented on the day that is why the checks and balances that we are putting in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. The investigation is still on going for the people involved.”

The family say they are now working closely with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children for a safety and placement plan for the young girl.