Oranga Tamariki reviewing what - if any - support Baby Ru and whānau were receiving at time he was killed

Oranga Tamariki is reviewing what - if any - support Ruthless-Empire and his whānau were receiving at the time he was killed and if interventions could have occurred.   

Chappie Te Kani, Oranga Tamariki's (OT) chief executive, said Aotearoa had "another needless death of a child" last week.   

"I would like to acknowledge the ongoing grief the whānau of Ruthless-Empire Ahipene-Wall, also known as Nga Reo and Baby Ru."  

Ruthless-Empire's initial unexplained death was upgraded to a homicide last week, where police revealed the post-mortem results showed he died due to blunt-force trauma.   

"We believe that these injuries were not accidental," said Det Insp Nick Pritchard on Thursday.   

It's understood Ruthless-Empire died up to 12 hours before he was found in an unresponsive state on October 22.  

He was taken to Hutt Hosptial but died shortly afterwards. Police are working with three adults known to Baby Ru, who are considered people of interest.   

Te Kani confirmed Baby Ru was not in Oranga Tamariki's custody or care and are "actively working alongside" partner agencies to piece together "what, if any, support Baby Ru and his whānau were receiving at the time of his death, and if interventions could have occurred".  

"We are working alongside police with their investigation."  

Aotearoa's new Children's Commissioner, Claire Achmad, told AM while she couldn’t comment on the specifics of the case, the "evidence is irrefutable" and Aotearoa has a "problem with child abuse and family violence".  

"Every single child in Aotearoa New Zealand must grow up safe, well and loved within their family, whānau, hapu and iwi."  

In 2022/2023, OT received 71,616 reports of concern of which 38,727 assessments and investigation were carried out, 6591 Care and Protection Family Group Conferences were undertaken, Te Kani said.

"Understanding those things that create risk or that are protective for tamariki is complex and different within each family.  Our social workers work hard with our partner agencies and communities to understand these factors, and while not everything can be predicted, we do an important job of understanding and responding in the right ways."   

Watch Dr Achmad's full interview above.