In 1985, 1-year-old Penny-Tui Taputoro suffered deadly accidents whereas in the care of household pal Kathleen Smith. Nearly 4 a long time later, regardless of conflicting proof, lies and an admission extracted utilizing a controversial interviewing technique, Smith has not been charged. And Penny-Tui’s household continues to be looking for the fact. Blair Ensor investigates.
This story is featured on Stuff’s The Long Read podcast. Check it out by hitting the play button under, or discover it on podcast apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
As Gerald Taputoro approaches the previous weatherboard home tears stream down his face. Shielded from the rain below a black umbrella, he cuts a forlorn determine. His spouse, Anne, clutches his arm. The couple haven’t been right here in nearly 40 years. “The memories aren’t great,” Gerald says.
As they stroll previous the driveway, in full view of the home, he can barely convey himself to look. Anne fixes her gaze on the footpath in entrance of her. “It’s too hard,” she says.
This home, in Dannevirke, about an hour’s drive northeast of Palmerston North, is the place, on July 29, 1985, their 1-year-old daughter, Penny-Tui, suffered a catastrophic head damage whereas in the care of a pal. The baby died in hospital a week later.
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On their final go to right here a long time earlier, Gerald and Anne requested their pal, Kathleen Smith, how Penny-Tui was damage. They left in disbelief, unable to understand the collection of unbelievable mishaps Smith mentioned had induced their daughter’s deadly accidents.
But Smith was pregnant, in order that they didn’t wish to strain her, and as a substitute left the matter with police.
Investigators seemed intently at Smith, however, regardless of suspicions about her story, concluded Penny-Tui’s dying was unintended. Nearly 4 a long time later, a detective utilizing a controversial new interviewing technique extracted a new model of occasions from Smith, and she got here desperately near being charged with manslaughter.
But she wasn’t, and Penny-Tui’s whānau nonetheless don’t really feel like they know what actually occurred to her.
“I’m not interested in being angry at [Smith], and taking her to court,” Anne says, “I just want the truth, nothing more.”
A completely happy child, with an infectious smile
Penny-Tui Aroha Taputoro was born in Whanganui on December 28, 1983. Then the youngest of 4 sisters, she had tightly-cropped darkish hair and brown eyes. She cherished driving her pink and yellow trike. The household lived in Pātea, about 60km northwest of Whanganui.
In 1984, they moved to the rural service city of Dannevirke. Gerald labored in the boning room at the native freezing works.
Penny-Tui and her older sister, Toni-Maree, attended a kōhanga reo (early childhood schooling taught utilizing te reo Māori). There, Anne struck up a friendship with younger baby care trainee Kathleen Smith. Smith, her husband, Willie, and their 3-year-old son had just lately moved south from Auckland.
As Anne and Gerald established themselves in Dannevirke, they purchased a dairy. Then, a few months later, a burger bar on the city’s most important road. Anne discovered juggling work and parenting exhausting.
She was nonetheless breastfeeding Penny-Tui, however knew she wanted to cease. In early July 1985, Smith seen Anne seemed run down and provided to care for Penny-Tui at her house till the baby was weaned.
Anne trusted Smith, who had already taken care of Penny-Tui and Toni-Maree for a few hours at a time, so she accepted. Several weeks later, on July 28, Gerald felt it was time for Penny-Tui to return house.
By then, the whānau had a live-in babysitter (Gerald’s niece), and he missed his daughter. But when he went to choose her up, Smith requested if she may have her for yet one more evening.
Not wanting to harm her emotions, Gerald agreed and organized to gather Penny-Tui after work on Monday.
‘What have I done to my Penny?’
About 12.45pm on Monday, Anne’s brother Tame Rangihaeta popped into the Taputoro’s dairy to seize some lunch. While he was there, the shopkeeper, Violet Kiriona, answered a cellphone name. Rangihaeta may hear a hysterical lady on the different finish. It was Smith. Kiriona screamed and hung up. Penny-Tui had fallen in the tub and Smith had known as an ambulance, she mentioned.
Rangihaeta rushed to his automobile. On the method to Smith’s home he noticed Anne in her automobile. He flagged her down, and advised her to observe him.
The entrance door to Smith’s house was open. Rangihaeta discovered her in the hallway crying and holding Penny-Tui. “My Penny, my baby Penny,” she mentioned. “What have I done to my Penny?”
Rangihaeta prised the baby from Smith’s arms. Penny-Tui was sporting solely a nappy. She wasn’t respiratory and felt chilly.
Rangihaeta began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Within about 30 seconds she began respiratory once more.
A brief time later, an ambulance arrived and rushed Penny-Tui to Dannevirke Hospital.
A collection of unbelievable mishaps
When Penny-Tui arrived at the emergency division she was in a severe situation. She was unconscious, and her physique temperature was an unusually chilly 34C (regular is 36.5C). Her eyes had been mounted and her pupils dilated. She was transferred first to Palmerston North Hospital then by helicopter to Wellington. There, a scan confirmed she had suffered intensive mind harm and was unlikely to breathe on her personal once more.
Neurosurgeon Dr Graham Martin famous a number of pre-existing accidents – days-old bruises on the baby’s head, and what gave the impression to be scalding burns on her proper arm – however she had clearly suffered the mind trauma that day, and Martin felt it was too extreme to have been brought on by a fall in the tub.
Anne and Gerald arrived in Wellington that evening. They had been ushered into a specialist’s workplace at the hospital and advised their daughter was possible going to die. Gerald leapt from his chair, grabbed the specialist and shoved him towards a wall. “No-one is turning off life support,” he mentioned. And in order that they didn’t.
Early the subsequent day, primarily based on Martin’s evaluation, police in Wellington contacted their counterparts in Dannevirke. Penny-Tui’s dying was imminent, they mentioned, and could be the topic of a murder investigation.
Detective Reihana Paki was tasked with interviewing Smith. He picked up her and her husband, Willie, earlier than daybreak and introduced them to the Dannevirke police station. The Smiths’ house was positioned below police guard.
Willie Smith had gone to work the earlier day. Kathleen Smith, 26, who was 5 months pregnant, known as in sick and saved Penny-Tui and her son house together with her.
Kathleen Smith advised Paki that Penny-Tui was fretting for her mom, however that wasn’t uncommon.
To cheer Penny-Tui up, she performed disguise and search with the kids. She additionally threw Penny-Tui up in the air, tickled her and gave her rides. Afterwards her son watched tv, and she put Penny-Tui in the tub. She cherished baths, Smith mentioned, and had one day by day.
While Smith was away from the lavatory getting garments and a nappy for Penny-Tui she heard a noise. She returned, and discovered Penny-Tui had fallen whereas in the water.
Smith described what occurred subsequent: “She was gulping or gasping. I was looking at her stomach to see if she was breathing. I picked her up by grabbing her legs. I stood up holding her in front of me shaking her, hitting her back and slapping her face to try and wake her up. I also hit her on the back of her head several times with my hand pretty hard.
“Because she didn’t wake up, I screamed out to her. I was panicked. As I shook her hard she slipped out of my hands, and she fell head first onto the bathroom floor. I screamed and I got really uptight and upset. I picked her up, and she was breathing funny.”
To preserve Penny-Tui heat, Smith mentioned she put the nappy on her, and wrapped her in a towel.
“I started running up and down the hallway yelling, screaming, slapping her and tipping her upside down. She vomited in the hallway.”
Smith rang an ambulance, and then spoke to Kiriona at the dairy. By then, Penny-Tui seemed lifeless.
Smith additionally described two incidents to Paki to clarify a few of the baby’s historic accidents.
The first occurred ten days earlier, on July 19. Smith mentioned she was driving into city when a automobile pulled out in entrance of her. She needed to slam on her brakes, and Penny-Tui, who was sitting, possible unrestrained, in the again, “went flying forward and into the gear stick”. The toddler cried however appeared OK. Smith mentioned she later noticed a bruise on Penny-Tui’s proper cheek.
The subsequent incident occurred on July 27, whereas Penny-Tui and Smith’s son had been having a tub. Smith mentioned she was away from the lavatory getting the kids’s pyjamas when she heard water operating and Penny-Tui scream. She returned and noticed Penny-Tui’s proper arm had been scalded. She ran it below chilly water, and the subsequent day it appeared alright.
Paki famous in a job sheet that Smith was crying whereas speaking about Penny-Tui’s fall in the tub and expressed remorse: “It was my fault, I was panicked, I am guilty.”
“She appeared to me to be very reluctant to talk about the main period when the baby was actually injured. I was of the opinion that this was either due to her being so upset about the incident or that she was trying to conceal something from us. At this stage, I was more inclined to the former.”
‘I was feeling guilty’
Smith’s story didn’t clarify the severity of Penny-Tui’s head accidents. Paki’s job sheet famous she needs to be subjected to a additional “hard-line” interview.
Detective Sergeant Brian Hewett, who’d been introduced in from Hastings to guide the investigation, performed the second interrogation. He advised Smith that the story she’d given wasn’t true. He recommended Penny-Tui’s accidents would have been brought on by her head hitting one thing strong, maybe swinging the baby towards a wall. He additionally advised Smith Penny-Tui was possible going to die. Smith began crying. Eventually, she admitted she had lied.
She advised Hewett that, whereas enjoying in the lounge the earlier day, she had taken turns swinging her son and Penny-Tui spherical by their legs.
“I was swinging Penny-Tui around, and I lost my balance and let her go. She hit her head against the wall, the same wall where the lounge suite is. She started crying, but she was conscious. I asked her if she wanted a bath, and she walked to the bath. Everything else I have said is true. I didn’t tell you this because I was feeling guilty.”
Paki’s job sheet for this second interview once more notes that Smith was evasive. She was emotional, notably when speaking about how Penny-Tui was damage. Paki thought she was dissembling. “It appeared to me that she was deliberately trying to avoid going over the main issues when Penny-Tui was injured.”
‘Her death was like part of me had died’
Smith’s newest rationalization nonetheless didn’t stack up. Hewett’s suggestion about Penny-Tui being swung into a wall had been primarily based on info from police in Wellington, however medical consultants had been extra of the view that the accidents had been brought on by the baby being shaken and then dropped.
Dr Graham Martin thought being swung into a wall would have induced rapid unconsciousness and left a bruise or lump on Penny-Tui’s scalp. He additionally thought Penny-Tui’s temperature couldn’t have dropped so rapidly until she had been immersed in ice-cold water, maybe as a method to revive her. Detectives mentioned the chance that Smith had used Hewett’s wall suggestion as a method out.
Paki advised Smith consultants nonetheless doubted her rationalization. Again, she broke down in tears. “I have told you the truth,” she mentioned. She hadn’t advised the full story initially as a result of she was frightened of going to jail.
For days, Penny-Tui’s whānau saved vigil beside her in hospital, singing waiata, telling tales and hoping for a miracle. But on the night of August 4, alarms began sounding, and her coronary heart monitor flat-lined.
“I just held her in my arms, and they took all the gadgets off her,” Gerald says. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face in my life, to see my daughter pass before me. I couldn’t say goodbye, her death was like part of me had died.”
‘I just couldn’t imagine it’
Penny-Tui was buried at the Wai-o-Turi Marae urupā, which overlooks the mouth of the Pātea River, in the shadow of Mt Taranaki.
After her tangi, Anne and Gerald visited Smith. Until then, they hadn’t thought of the chance their pal may need induced their daughter’s dying. They even defended her to detectives. That all modified after the go to. Smith advised Anne and Gerald what she had advised police: She’d swung Penny-Tui into the lounge wall, then the baby had fallen in the tub, and, lastly, when she’d picked her as much as revive her, she’d dropped her head first onto the lavatory ground.
“I had no words,” says Anne. “I just sat there stunned. That was the story that she gave as her truth at that time. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Gerald and Anne left Smith’s house in tears. They haven’t spoken to her since.
“[I said] that if there’s anything not right here, that’s what the law’s there for,” Gerald says, “It wasn’t for me to make a judgement on her. I thought that the truth would come out.”
‘Her story just wasn’t proper to me’
In a report back to his boss dated September 27, 1985, Detective Sergeant Brian Hewett mentioned Smith’s rationalization about how Penny-Tui suffered her deadly accidents did “not hold any real weight”.
“I am not satisfied as to how the child obtained her initial head injury. I feel that it is quite possible that the child was playing up and was shaken severely by Smith and dropped either deliberately or accidentally; that she then put the child in cold water trying to revive it, was unable to do so, contacted the family and then later the hospital. This would explain how the child’s temperature dropped.”
Hewett concluded by saying: “I believe Kathleen Smith maltreated Penny-Tui Taputoro and that this maltreatment caused the death. I do not believe that she deliberately injured the child, and that shaking and dropping it was not done with any intent to cause it serious injury. The above is my belief, but unfortunately there is no evidence to support this.”
Without additional admissions from Smith, he felt there was inadequate proof to cost her with something.
But there have been nonetheless free ends and Hewett did not let the matter go. For one factor, detectives hadn’t been conscious of a assertion by Anne’s brother, Tame Rangihaeta, once they interviewed Smith. Rangihaeta was first on the scene and initially revived Penny-Tui.
He mentioned that after the baby was taken to hospital, Smith took him to the lavatory at her home and demonstrated what had occurred. Rangihaeta was suspicious. The tub had dried cleaning soap and filth in it. It didn’t appear to be it had been used that day. Smith additionally advised him she’d dropped garments she was carrying when she discovered Penny-Tui, however there have been none on the lavatory ground. “Her story just wasn’t right to me,” Rangihaeta mentioned. “But I didn’t say anything.”
A month later, Paki and Hewett spoke to Smith once more at her dad and mom’ house in Auckland. By then, she was closely pregnant and wouldn’t be interviewed with out her dad and mom and husband current.
The detectives probed her on Penny-Tui’s drop in temperature and the situation of her bathtub. Smith mentioned there was a delay in her contacting an ambulance after Penny-Tui was injured, however she couldn’t make sure how lengthy.
Questioned on Rangihaeta’s assertion, Smith was adamant: he was mistaken about the dry bathtub and the reality she’d mentioned she dropped garments in the lavatory.
The interview concluded with Hewett telling Smith the matter could be referred to the coroner. The police investigation was over.
Penny-Tui’s dying ‘an accident’
The coronial inquiry for Penny-Tui was held in March 1986. It heard that the pathologist who did the autopsy had discovered that anybody of Smith’s explanations for what occurred may have resulted in Penny-Tui’s deadly accidents, and that police had concluded her dying was an accident. Coroner Marcus Poole dominated the baby’s reason for dying was bronchopneumonia, secondary to acute swelling of the mind constant together with her being severely shaken. Gerald Taputoro walked out of the inquest in disgust.
“I wanted to take matters into my own hands, but my brother … said to me this is something that we’re going to have to deal with as a family for a long time and I left it at that. No-one ever said we could contest this, or we can push this a bit further.”
Anne and Gerald went on to have two extra kids, however Penny-Tui’s dying drove a wedge by their relationship. The pair remained married, however lived separate lives and by no means talked about what had occurred to their daughter.
“I got no satisfaction or justice from [the inquest] so I probably took it out on my wife,” Gerald says. “She met Kathy at the kōhanga reo and made the decision for her to look after our daughter. I only found out after the fact.”
The couple bought their companies in Dannevirke and needed to promote their home to repay a financial institution mortgage. Gerald battled despair and persistent again ache. He prioritised his kids over work.
“We closed off as a whānau and became very protective of the children.”
Whenever Gerald advised new individuals about his life he’d begin speaking about Penny-Tui and cry. “All that I knew was that we never had a say,” he says, “Penny-Tui never had a voice.” He knew he needed to do one thing, however he didn’t know what.
In 2018, Gerald and Anne’s eldest daughter Seletar was identified with an autoimmune illness. She spent months in hospital. When Gerald visited, they might spend hours speaking about their misplaced daughter and sister. Seletar advised her father to not let it go.
Gerald requested Penny-Tui’s coronial file from the Ministry of Justice. No-one in the whānau had seen it earlier than. Gerald and Anne had heard Smith’s explanations earlier, however now, upon studying the file, they had been shocked. As had been Penny-Tui’s siblings.
“I was just blown away,” Penny-Tui’s sister Toni-Maree says. “How could anyone do that to a child who wasn’t even their own? And even then I didn’t believe it.”
In search of extra solutions, the household contacted police.
Things moved rapidly.
A new investigation, and a new model of occasions
In October 2018, an e-mail thread circulated amongst a few of the most senior police officers in New Zealand. One message was from Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson, the nationwide crime supervisor, to Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald: “This fits squarely with your current course you are developing.”
Anderson was referring to a new interview technique developed by Fitzgerald known as the Complex Investigation Phased Engagement Model (CIPEM), designed to get recalcitrant chilly case suspects to speak to police. If Kathleen Smith was reinterviewed, Anderson thought the technique could possibly be helpful.
CIPEM disbursed with the formalities of a typical police interview. Comfortable chairs had been used, there was no desk or note-taking, meals was typically shared and interviewers projected empathy. The thought was to create a “fireside chat” atmosphere, the place interviewees felt snug speaking.
“I look forward to the coff [confession] and seeing some kind of closure for the whānau,” Anderson wrote in an e-mail to Detective Senior Sergeant James Patea, the nationwide baby safety co-ordinator, who he’d requested to assessment the file. “I’d love to be there when you tell them in person. That’s why I love this job … There is no pressure as I know you guys will get the necessary. Easy.” Fitzgerald additionally expressed confidence. The key, he mentioned, was placing Kathleen Smith relaxed. He wrote in reply that he had a plan for how to do that, however didn’t elaborate: “Best discussed by a phone conference.”
In April 2019, police ready to make use of CIPEM to interview Smith, who was residing in Hamilton, had obtained a legislation diploma and modified her identify to Katrina Werahiko. It was Fitzgerald’s job to get her to comply with the interview. On May 1, 2019, he known as Smith. It’s not clear what they mentioned, however the subsequent morning, with out a lawyer and of her personal free will, Smith arrived at a Hamilton police station for an interview.
“There will be some stuff that we talk about today that will be hard,” Detective Sergeant Maania Piahana advised her. “Today, it’s about … making sure that you leave here, me knowing what happened and you being able to share that burden [with me].”
Smith advised Piahana she’d cherished and adored Penny-Tui. She carried the ache of the baby’s dying, however insisted she had advised the fact to detectives in 1985. “I didn’t mean to hurt her,” she mentioned.
Piahana pushed again: “Kathy … I don’t want you to go back down that same rabbit hole. Today is about making sure that everybody has the truth so that everybody’s lives can move on. This is about getting closure for everyone.”
Slowly, Smith started to recount a new model of the story. She was emotional all through – crying, hyperventilating and typically unable to offer clear solutions. “I feel like my whole world is collapsing,” she mentioned at one level, “I think my life is going to be over.” Piahana comforted and confronted Smith in equal measure. “Your life is not over,” she advised her. “This is going to make your life better because we take it off your shoulders … I just need you to tell me what happened. You’re almost there, I can see it.”
The new story began with Smith enjoying with Penny-Tui, bouncing the baby on her knee, “like giddy-up”, earlier than Penny-Tui fell backwards. After being challenged by Piahana that her story nonetheless didn’t clarify the severity of Penny-Tui’s accidents, Smith admitted she’d shaken the baby. Only later, she mentioned, did she be taught of the risks of shaking a child. She demonstrated what she did to Penny-Tui by holding her fingers out in entrance of her, and jiggling them. “I don’t know what came over me,” she mentioned.
“I know that something else happened after that,” Piahana mentioned.
Smith cried and pointed to her left eye.
“So you shook her and then her eyes rolled back in her head?” Piahana requested.
“I didn’t, I didn’t know,” Smith mentioned, earlier than crying once more. When she noticed Penny-Tui’s eyes rolling she panicked. As she stood up she dropped the baby.
“I just freaked out. I didn’t mean to. If only I could take back one minute.”
After greater than 4 hours, the interview was over.
“Kathy, I understand what happened,” Piahana mentioned. “And I know you’ve had this burden to bear. But it’s off your shoulders now.”
Manslaughter prosecution thought of
Police thought of the interview a success. Smith had offered a new model of occasions by which she shook and dropped Penny-Tui.
Detective Senior Sergeant Patea known as Gerald that afternoon and advised him Smith had been reinterviewed, and it went properly. But the case would must be reviewed by police and the Crown earlier than any prosecution.
“[The police] gave us the sense of understanding that she was answerable for what happened to Penny, and I thought we’d finally got to the place where the truth was going to come out and the law would deal with it,” Gerald says. “I really was hopeful that Penny would finally have a voice.”
The file was transferred to police in Manawatū. In October 2019, Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong forwarded it to the Crown solicitor. An skilled investigator, Forlong thought the case warranted an opinion on attainable prosecution, however he appeared uneasy about the CIPEM interview performed by Piahana.
“I have not had the interview transcribed to date because I believe that a … prosecutor should review the interview to accurately appraise themselves not only of the contents but the challenges this interviewing style is likely to raise in any future proceedings.”
Crown solicitor Ben Vanderkolk responded the following month. In his view, there have been ample grounds to cost Smith with manslaughter, offered there was some medical proof of Penny-Tui’s accidents and the pressure required to inflict them by shaking.
Vanderkolk did, although, pay particular consideration to the CIPEM interview.
“The interviewer tried to get [Smith] to tell the last piece of the story, but she did not do so. So it does remain somewhat difficult to comprehend that brain damage of that nature could be caused to a 20-month-old by shaking her during play. The play was either exceptionally vigorous or there would have been a point at which [Smith] snapped and shook Penny-Tui violently.”
CIPEM has been utilized in 5 circumstances because it was launched in 2018, and has been at the centre of latest controversy. Several months after Smith was interviewed, the technique was utilized by two detectives to extract a confession from a man suspected of killing Upper Hutt lady Lois Tolley, who was shot in her house in 2016. A High Court choose later dominated the detectives had misled the man, and “manipulated” him to make a confession that was “very flawed” and “not credible”. The prosecution towards the man and two others charged with Tolley’s homicide subsequently collapsed.
In this case, Vanderkolk felt the info gleaned was dependable. Piahana was agency with Smith, however she engaged together with her in a “kind, patient and respectful” method and was not “forceful or overbearing”.
While Smith was “exceptionally distressed” and at instances “operated under significant psychological distress”, she had a legislation diploma, knew her rights and may have ended the interview, however selected to not.
“She appeared to engage with the idea that telling the truth after all the years she had suffered for Penny-Tui’s death, would help her.”
A main blow to a household’s search for solutions
In 2020, as police readied their case towards Smith, the prosecution was dealt a main blow – Penny-Tui’s medical data had been destroyed by the Capital and Coast District Health Board lower than two years earlier. No digital copies had been made, and pathological slides had been additionally nowhere to be discovered.
Patea and one other senior detective visited the whānau Taputoro to ship the information: the prosecution couldn’t proceed.
“It was heartbreaking,” Gerald says. “I just held my daughters and cried. All we wanted was for Penny-Tui to have a voice … and all of a sudden it wasn’t going to happen.
“I felt it was partly my fault for not doing something earlier.”
In a assertion to Stuff, police mentioned it was unclear why the related medical data weren’t connected to the authentic investigation file.
“There have been significant changes in the last four decades in relation to record-keeping, not least of which include the technological advances in terms of electronic record-keeping,” Detective Inspector Craig Sheridan mentioned. “It would certainly be expected today that all relevant medical records would be retained within the police investigation file.”
Police haven’t any report of the file being reviewed previous to the household’s request in 2018, Sheridan mentioned. Likely as a result of the authentic investigation concluded Penny-Tui’s dying was unintended and the case was closed.
‘I’m unsure what sort of closure the whānau is looking for’
Kathleen Smith, or Katrina Werahiko as she is now recognized, nonetheless lives in Hamilton. On the University of Waikato’s web site she’s listed as an professional in dispute decision and Māori authorized points.
The 62-year-old didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark from Stuff, however her lawyer famous Smith was unable to touch upon any variations between interviews she’d given a long time aside as she had by no means seen the transcripts of them.
“As a young mother … pregnant with her second child, she was subjected to a gruelling police investigation and coronial inquest. She was cleared of any wrongdoing. She was then subject to subsequent investigations in 2019, and cleared of any wrongdoing again.
“Our client never previously engaged legal counsel because she never considered it necessary having not committed a crime. She has only now engaged counsel for fear that your article will cause undue and irreparable harm to her. To subject her to public scrutiny now after nearly four decades is unfair, unjustified and not a matter of public interest.”
Smith’s solely direct touch upon the case was a letter she wrote to the Taputoro whānau, offered to Stuff by considered one of her mates.
“No amount of words can express how deeply saddened and devastated I am for the heartbreaking loss of Penny-Tui,” she wrote.
“There is not a day that goes by where I [don’t] think about her and am so heartbroken that the whānau never got to see her grow up and have her own children.”
“Anne and Gerald, I have carried so much heartache, pain and sorrow … and from the bottom of my heart, I am so very sorry for your loss.
“After two interviews with authorities, I am not sure what kind of closure the whānau are seeking. I have moved on in my life and hope you find closure in your hearts. I pray for healing prayers. I pray from the bottom of my heart that God will help you with the closure you need. May God bless you all at this time.”
‘I don’t need to be completely happy’
The whānau Taputoro have valuable few mementos of Penny-Tui. There are playing cards celebrating her beginning and an previous cellular that used to hold above her cot. Photos of her driving her trike and studying to stroll. But that’s it.
“There hasn’t been a day, a week, a month in these passing years that I have not missed her physical presence,” Gerald says.
“I never got to see her grow into a young woman. I never got to be at the birth of her children, my mokopuna. I never got to give her away in marriage.”
He and Anne nonetheless blame themselves for what occurred to their daughter. Gerald specifically, for not taking Penny-Tui house the day earlier than she was fatally injured.
“If I had acted on my instincts I think my daughter would still be with me today. It was my role to protect her … but I didn’t and I don’t deserve to be happy.”
Anne says she ought to by no means have left Penny-Tui with Smith.
“I was her mother. I should have been caring for her. I was just too busy working and I learnt a hard lesson for that. I blame no-one else but me.”
The guilt endures for the whānau, however so do the questions on the dying of Penny-Tui. Gerald and Anne can’t reply them. All they will do is attraction to the one one that can – Kathleen Smith.
“Something happened to our baby, and only she knows,” Anne says. “You know that, Kathy. You know very well we don’t have the truth. I gave you my daughter … I gave you the love of our life – the star – … and you took her away from us. We don’t know how, and all we want to know is what happened.”
This function was edited by Michael Wright.
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