“Huge rise in child abduction cases” screams the headline in today’s New Zealand Herald, sure to invoke images of children being dragged from the streets by persons unknown. But read the article and you’ll learn that these abductions are mostly parents taking their children out of the country without the consent of the other parent.
The Herald tells its readers the 54% jump in child abduction cases since 2007 is because parents are being refused legal aid to go before the courts and obtain permission to take their offspring out of New Zealand legally. What it doesn’t tell you is that many of those children are migrants to New Zealand – they hold foreign passports or were born outside of the country. Also, the rise in “abductions” corresponds with a rise in the overall numbers of people leaving New Zealand since 2007, brought on by the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes.
What the article also doesn’t tell you is that there are hundreds of parents being held against their will in New Zealand because their partners refuse to give consent for their children to leave. In some cases these children were born into mixed marriages between kiwis and a foreigners, in others both parents are migrants. It is a sad fact of life that New Zealand courts rarely award custody to any parent who wants to remove their child from the country and there is no favour shown towards giving custody to mothers, regardless of how unfit the father may be. With New Zealand’s horrendous record for child abuse what right thinking parent is going to abandon their child and leave without them? Hence, many are forced into staying against their will to protect their children or face the prospect of “abducting” them.
With the knowledge that the courts are likely to favour the parent remaining in New Zealand increasing numbers of desperate parents (mostly mothers) are simply getting on a plane with their kids and never coming back. And who can blame them?
You may remember the story of four year old Emma Maddison, born to a Danish mother and Kiwi father, see http://e2nz.org/tag/emma-maddison/
When Emma was a toddler her parents returned to Denmark so that she could have medical treatment that wasn’t available in New Zealand.
After a period of time the girl’s father returned to New Zealand but the couple’s relationship broke up and the mother decided to stay in Denmark with her daughter. The case highlighted the enormous difficulties parents have with custody of their children after a relationship breaks up and they want to live in different countries. Even though her father alleged she was abducted and taken from the country illegally the Danish Supreme Court declined to return her to her father’s homeland. We are sure this case gave fresh hope to parents looking to find justice outside of New Zealand, it may even have set a precedence under European law for the way the Hague Convention is applied to dual nationality cases.
If you or someone you know is affected by this issue you may wish to participate in our long running discussion Trapped In NZ – Father Won’t Let Child Leave
Japan is about to ratify the Hague Convention, but with one important difference to some of the the other G7 countries that have already encompassed the convention in their own legislation: the Hague proceeding should not cause children more harm than good.
If it wished to New Zealand could also make this important decision because what we’re hearing from our readers (and from the Emma Maddison story) is in New Zealand the welfare of the child is subordinate to the rights of the parent who chooses to remain in New Zealand.
According to an article in the Miami Herald
Japan’s legislation is notable for another reason as well. It contains important and unique guidance to its courts concerning how to adjudicate allegations of domestic violence. Japanese judges must consider whether returning the child would risk violence to the child’s other parent and thereby cause serious psychological harm to the child. If it would, the child need not be returned in an expeditious proceeding pursuant to the Hague Convention.
Japan’s attention to domestic violence here is consistent with the Convention. The Convention allows a court to refuse to return a child if the return would cause a “grave risk of psychological or physical harm to the child or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.” Japan’s law ensures that its courts take seriously this “grave risk” defense and how domestic violence impacts children. In Japan, a Hague proceeding should not cause children more harm than good. That is what the Convention drafters had in mind when they provided defenses.
“Where are my human rights? It’s not my choice for Emma not to have her father in her life.”
“Two years later the case is still ongoing and Mr Maddison says he would do everything he could for his “wee girl”.
“I deserve my daughter and it has taken over my life. My daughter is a victim in this and so am I.” more here
Fortunately, Emma remains with her mother and is receiving the ongoing care she needs in Denmark. The Danish Supreme Court put her needs first.
- Huge rise in child abduction cases (nzherald.co.nz)
- Real Cases of Child Abduction (quinnlawassociates.wordpress.com)
- International child abductions: There’s more to the story (miamiherald.com)
- Summer holiday is the high season for International Parental Child Abduction. (prweb.com)
- Overseas child abductions on the rise (guardian.co.uk)
Why is it that in New Zealand councils seem to think that putting signs up is the answer to dangers in play parks?
You’d think after the scalding death of the little Toromon in Rotorua’s Kuirau Park, councils would have learned that signs are not enough where the safety of young children is paramount.
This was in today’s Herald
A small boy was left with second-degree burns to his feet from playground equipment heated by the sun.
David “Noah” Jones, 2, needed hospital treatment after climbing on metal rails at the Wesley Community Centre in Mt Roskill on Tuesday.
His mother told the Herald
My friend heard him screaming and saw him standing on the ground and he was standing like he wanted to lift his feet off the ground. He kept saying, ‘It’s hot! It’s hot!’
“When I got there a minute later the skin was hanging off his feet.”
She said she did not see what her son was climbing on, but believes it was a climbing frame with metal bars.
Air temp that day was 27 degrees Celsius, not exactly a baking hot day.
It seems that other toddlers get burned in NZ playgrounds and its highly likely that Safekids only gets to hear about a few of them.
Safekids New Zealand is the national child injury prevention service, and a service of Starship Children’s Health. They told the Herald that other children have also been burned. We think there are probably many other cases they aren’t aware of because not every parent seeks hospital treatment for their child.
Safekids New Zealand director Ann Weaver said each summer her organisation saw a case of a child being burned by playground equipment.
“But we’ve never seen someone burnt by climbing rails. There have been examples where kids have been severely burnt on a slide, and needed hospital treatment. They are always kids aged between 18 months and two years.
And what is the council’s solution?
“The council was looking into the incident and would consider adding warning signs.” Read the full report here
What’s so wrong with providing shade? Not only would it prevent contact burns but it will also protect kids from UV burns; NZ has the world’s highest rate of melanoma.
But Auckland Council may be well aware of that overheating is being caused by lack of shade because it admits
Please note: some of the playgrounds do not currently meet the safety requirements. As Auckland City Council upgrades these playgrounds we are ensuring that they then meet this standard.
Although it doesn’t say which playgrounds don’t meet those requirements.
No right to sue
New Zealand’s has a no-fault Accident Compensation Scheme. The Accident and Compensation Commission administers a 24 hour, 7 day per week, no-fault, comprehensive accident insurance scheme covering New Zealanders and those people visiting New Zealand. In return for this cover, people do not have the right to sue for damages if another person, or organisation, is at fault. No fault can also mean no responsibility.
You may also be interested in
Auckland playgrounds- which are best? In a thread on a parenting forum, one mother says “Gladstone park on gladstone road in parnell is quite good it has a couple of good slides but no shade and gets quite hot in summer.”
Yesterday we blogged about home buyers being advised to have drug testing carried out on their properties prior to purchase: to detect houses that have been contaminated by manufacture of the drug P.
Today the Manawatu Standard has used the Official Information Act to obtain Horizons Regional Council‘s database of Hazardous Activities and Industries List and contaminated sites, which is down on 2009′s list of from around 350 to 300 sites.
Among the 330 contaminated sites listed are at least 8 P Labs, with the remainder comprising petrol stations, landfills and industries such as timber treatment mills and drycleaners, most of which aren’t health risks.
Unlike the P labs.
According to the Standard, the P sites include
- Ferndale Pl residence in Feilding - raided by police in November after they suspected it was being used to house the manufacture of methamphetamine.
- Another site in Feilding
- Two sites in Palmerston North
- one in Taumaranui
- one in Owhango
- one in Marton
- and one near Shannon.
Unfortunately the paper held back from naming the exact locations, so the public are none the wiser. Read more on the Standard’s website
Charges after P, kids found in house, November 2010, NZ Herald:
“Two men and a woman have been charged after a police drugs raid yesterday on a suspected drug house in Manawatu where three pre-school children were also found.
More than $40,000 in cash, a small number of point bags of methamphetamine, cannabis, scales and documentation indicative of drug dealing were recovered during the raid on the Ferndale Place, Feilding, house, police said.
A 26-year-old Northland man, 23-year-old Hamilton woman and a 45-year-old Feilding man were arrested and charged with offences ranging from conspiring to supply methamphetamine, possession for its supply, possession of material for its manufacture…”
An interesting article in today’s NZ Herald has highlighted the status of teaching in New Zealand, a popular occupation for many immigrants from OCED countries looking for a lifestyle change down under, it seems that the grass is definitely not greener for many of them.
An international report shows that NZ teachers are among the lowest paid in the OECD, but work some of the longest hours, only teachers in Mexico and the USA work more:
Teachers ‘paid less, work more’
…The annual Education at a Glance report, which compares the education systems of the 29 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, found that after 15 years’ experience, a New Zealand teacher made $10,000 a year less than OECD counterparts on average.
They also started on an average of $10,000 less than Australian counterparts and earned up to $82,000 less than those in top-paying Luxembourg…”Read the full report here
Hardly surprising that teachers in NZ are about to strike for a 4% pay rise.
If you are emigrating to NZ to take up a teaching position, or you have children that will be be going through any stage of the NZ education system (including tertiary) you may wish to read our Education and Children page here which is one of our NZ Facts and Stats pages.