Hinewaoriki Karaitiana-Matiaha (Lillybing).

Lillybing

It was 11.30pm on July 23rd 2000, when Cheryl Daley-Nooroa answered her door to Rachealle Namana and Rachealle’s sister Rongomai Wahine Paewai. The woman had 23 month old Hinewaoriki Karaitiana-Matiaha with them. After hearing that the baby, known as Lillybing, had been falling over and was hard to wake, Cheryl urged them to rush her to hospital. In the dark she thought she saw the toddler move. During the drive to the hospital Rachealle Namana held Lillybing upright on her lap and rubbed her back. Upon arriving at the hospital close to 12am, it was discovered that the baby girl had been dead for 5-7 hours and had sustained a massive facial burn, injuries to the vagina and abdomen and a fatal brain hemorrhage. The movement that Cheryl Daley-Nooroa had seen had been the motion of Namana rubbing the stiffening infants’ back.

Five months before the tragic death of Lillybing, a desperate 28 year old Rachealle Namana spoke with local Maori health worker Carol Fox of the problems she was having. Pregnant with her 5th child, Rachealle told ‘Aunty’ Carol that she was taking her frustrations out on Lillybing and had bashed her.

She told the health worker that her stepsister Terina Matiaha would repeatedly leave Lillybing with Rachealle (who had a baby of similar age) for days at a time. Ms Fox then spoke to the family and it was decided that Rachealle would no longer be left with the baby. The family was told that the Child, Youth and Family Service would be advised if it happened again, however it was not long before Lillybing was on Rachealle’s doorstep again.

When Lillybing’s 9 month old sister was admitted to hospital on the 20th of July 2000, her mother Terina left Lillybing with Rachealle so she could be with the younger baby.

The events the baby had to endure during that time must have been cruel, excruciatingly painful and were ultimately fatal.

Upon discovering that Lillybing had been delivered to her without any nappies, Rachealle set about to toilet train the 23-month-old.

Day 1. (July 21st) Makeshift steps were made up to the adult toilet and Lillybing was smacked about the legs as she was unable to walk up them. This was followed by putting her on the toilet seat and leaving her to clutch on to the seat so as not to fall off.

Day 2. (July 22nd) Rachealle and her sister Rongomai noticed Lillybing had a bloody vagina but fearing an adverse reaction, decided not to report it to their doctor. The toddler fell many times during the day and on one occasion sustained a large lump on her forehead. Following this she lost consciousness at least twice. Both sisters being trained in first aid, they applied an ice pack to the wound. This was followed with the application of a cloth soaked in boiling water, which burnt a layer of skin from below her eyes to the top of her forehead. The pain that Lillybing endured would have been excruciating and had she survived, would have required extensive skin grafts. Terina dropped in to collect the baby but the sisters said she was sleeping and they would return her later. During the night Lillybing’s condition worsened. Although Rachealle stayed home most of the evening, she and Rongomai spent some time at the local tavern.

Day 3. (July 23rd) When Lillybing woke, the lump she had received the day before had become dark and the burn on her face was likened to a drying grass burn. She was unable to stop falling over and complained a lot. Later in the day Rachealle became angry at the complaining and shook the child so violently that Lillybing suffered a brain hemorrhage. It was this injury that ended her ordeal hours later. Lillybing died at 6 or 7pm that evening. At around 11.30pm the sisters arrived at Cheryl Daley-Nooroa’s house seeking help.

In the High Court at Wellington on the 18 May 2001, Rachealle Patricia Dawn Namana pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Hinewaoriki Karaitiana-Matiaha (Lillybing). Both Namana and Rongomai Wahine Paewai pleaded guilty to twice ill-treating Lillybing and twice failing to provide the necessaries of life. Rachaelle Namana has since been jailed for six years and Rongomai Paewai for two years. The evidence relating to the vaginal injuries has been suppressed and remains unsolved at this time, however Inspector Rod Drew, who heads the investigation team, says they still want to know who was responsible for 23-month-old Lillybing’s vaginal injuries, and the case will remain open.

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