'I can swear on my daughter's life she did it' - daycare teacher challenged over claims her colleague assaulted pre-schoolers

A daycare teacher who's given evidence a colleague assaulted pre-schoolers has been challenged on the veracity of her claims.

Lynn Abraham is on trial in the Auckland District Court.

It is alleged the 59-year-old smacked and force-fed children in her care.

The Crown says she taped shut one child's mouth and put soap in another child's mouth.

A former colleague, Jennifer Wong, has given evidence she saw Abraham smack and force-feed children, and also saw the cellotape incident.

But Abraham's lawyer, Graeme Newell, questioned why Wong socialised with his client and remained friends during their employment, if she was guilty of the charges against her.

Wong replied that Abraham's actions would cause her to cry in private, and that she had trouble sleeping.

She said she kept a notebook detailing Abraham's actions but Newell questioned why some incidents, including force-feeding, were not recorded.

Ms Wong sobbed through much of her evidence, wailing as Newell continued his line of questioning.

"I just want to go. You're repeating. I've already told you," she said.

"I can swear on my daughter's life she did it."

The trial continues.

It's alleged Lynn Abraham smacked some children and forced food into the mouths of others. Source: 1 NEWS



Should mānuka honey standards be more strictly regulated in NZ? Consultation closes today

Public consultation on the new standards for mānuka honey closes today.

Since February, all mānuka honey exported from New Zealand has had to meet scientific tests to ensure it's authentic.

Those standards were created in the wake of concerns from international trading partners about the authenticity of New Zealand mānuka honey.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) believes a significant amount of honey is sold as mānuka, with prices ranging from $12 per kilogram to over $140 per kilogram.

MPI wants to protect the industry from counterfeit product, but producers say the DNA test isn't working. Source: 1 NEWS

The test implemented earlier this year involves looking for five markers, four of those chemical and one DNA.

MPI is now considering whether honey sold in the domestic market should meet those strict standards too.

They've released a consultation document which looks at the current system, and assesses whether a voluntary or mandatory testing would work best.

Problems with MPI's testing of Manuka honey is worrying Kiwi producers who don't want to lose reputations. Source: 1 NEWS

The deadline for public feedback closes at 5pm.

You can have your say here.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has today announced a chemical and DNA definition for Manuka honey, to protect its trade reputation overseas. Source: 1 NEWS

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Weekend's most read: Noisy street racers disrupting terminally ill Timaru hospice patients' final days

This story was first published on Saturday September 16.

Timaru’s Hospice is pleading for quiet and some respect after noisy night time drivers have been disturbing their terminally ill patients.

Timaru’s Hospice is pleading for quiet and respect for their patients. Source: 1 NEWS

After a long battle with throat cancer Charles Roebuck’s been given just days to live, but he says his final nights are being disrupted by street racers speeding down the road around the Hospice.

“Here I am quietly getting some rest and next thing this is a race-strip,” Hospice patient Charles Roebuck told 1 NEWS.

He’s not the first patient to complain about the disruption.

“We thank him very much for raising this issue of the traffic around Hospice, because we work here and we’re not as conscious often as the patients are,” says Hospice South Canterbury general manager Peter O’Neill.

Hospice staff are asking driver for a little consideration for their patients.

"To think that is might be one of their relatives one day or one of their friends and just that due respect for common decency I suppose," says Mr O’Neill.

Mr Roebuck has even written a letter to the Timaru District Council with his concerns.

“This place is soundproofed, I mean it's got double glazing, but with those cars zapping backwards and forwards."

The council says they’ve only just become aware of the issue and are now looking at options for putting up signs to encourage people to slow down.


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DOC staff face more abuse after anti-1080 protests

Department of Conservation staff are facing a torrent of online threats and abuse following a recent spike in anti-1080 protests.

The escalation is being put down to people being captured by fake news spread on social media and has forced DOC to seek advice from Netsafe.

Just last week anti-1080 activists put dead birds, including kererū and weka on the steps of Parliament, claiming they were poisoned by the toxin.

After police were called in to investigate if the birds had in fact been bludgeoned, one of the protesters admitted some were actually road kill.

There is also the picture of dead kiwi doing the rounds on social media with a claim they had fallen victim to the poison.

DOC's threatened species ambassador Nicola Toki said those kiwi were either killed by dogs or cars.

She believes many people opposed to 1080 are joining the bandwagon without fully understanding what it is, and do not know about the decades of science behind its use.

This is having a consequence for frontline DOC staff, Mrs Toki said incidents of threats and abuse in August were significantly higher than usual.

"We had eight incidents in just one month alone where staff were physically confronted, abused or harassed and then we had seven abusive phone calls and emails"

She said in addition to that there were countless harassment threats and abuse via social media which were followed up with Netsafe and the police.

Mrs Toki told Morning Report a large proportion of New Zealanders genuinely cared about native wildlife and were interested in how pests were controlled using 1080.

DOC was doing its best to bring them the facts but when they were being bombarded by an "irresponsible avalanche of fake news, it's very difficult for the ordinary average New Zealander to get a real understanding of what's at play" she said.

In recent months anti-1080 groups have been spamming live news feeds of major organisations in a bid to get more attention on the subject, which has succeeded.

Lawyer Sue Grey represents protesters who have won a temporary court injunction against a poison drop in the Hunua Ranges.

Last November a video of her explaining how to get more media traction on 1080 was uploaded to YouTube, her advice included jumping in on news stories with 1080 comments even if the story had nothing to do with the toxin.

Mrs Toki said she had heard it all when it comes to fake news on 1080, from the Illuminati to Agenda 21.

"The theories are endless, none of them have any factual basis whatsoever and what's at stake is our precious native wildlife, which we just can't afford to lose."

Nick Smith held both the Conservation and Environment portfolios under the previous government in which time 1080 use was expanded from about 100,000 hectares a year to more than 800,000 hectares.

He said his government spent over $5 million looking at alternatives, but 1080 came out as the safest and best tool.

Dr Smith said the 2011 report from the-then Environment Commissioner Jan Wright substantially shifted public opinion on the toxin.

He said the activity was ramping up and on current projections someone would get hurt, he believes untrue claims and misinformation are feeding a fringe conspiracy group.

"With social media sites people are able to get a real rage and a conspiracy theory and think that there is the majority of New Zealanders are opposed to the use of the poison."

Dr Smith said the fact that the Ban 1080 political party only managed 0.1 percent of the vote at last year's general election and had de-registered showed how little support the movement had.

The current Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, said the huge predator free movement across the country showed the anti-1080 group had lost people's hearts and minds, and they were having an extreme reaction.

"We've had previously things like wheel nuts on vehicles being loosened causing a real risk to staff ... they need to be able to get on with the job without being intimidated and abused."

DOC is monitoring the anti-1080 activity and work is going on to ensure the safety of frontline staff and contractors.

By Kate Gudsell

rnz.co.nz

A 1080 protest outside Parliament last week. (VNP/Phil Smith) Source: rnz.co.nz


Men still struggling to speak out about childhood sexual abuse, advocate says - 'We don't like to talk about it'

Thousands of Kiwi men are living with a trauma history of childhood sexual abuse.

Last night, TVNZ's Sunday programme met three men who were abused as children but kept their silence for years before seeking help.

Male Survivors Aotearoa advocate and sexual abuse survivor Ken Clearwater spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning about the barriers men face getting help and speaking out.

Mr Clearwater says one of the barriers is New Zealand's lack of research into the issue.

"We don’t have the research in New Zealand. We haven’t done very well in looking at the research into boys and men in New Zealand which lets us down badly," Mr Clearwater said.

However, he also praised the three men who spoke out last night for their "courage", calling it "absolutely amazing".

"For us to have that opportunity to talk about this issue in New Zealand is really important," Mr Clearwater said.

He says the three men's bravery in talking about their experiences "has to" make a difference as "once one male starts talking openly, it allows others to come forward".

The Harvey Weinstein saga exposed an ugly side of our culture. TVNZ’s Sunday hears from some male victims. Source: Sunday

"We don't like to talk about it, and one of the things about having Aaron on there as well last night is what we don't like to talk about is female perpetrators. We really struggle with that. We don’t do research or acknowledge that there are female perpetrators in this country."

He added that the impact of childhood sexual trauma on men as they grow older is "pretty devastating", often leading to later issues with authority figures, prison and mental health.

"We know around the world that 69 per cent of men in prison for non-sex offending offences were sexually abused in childhood.

"They're getting angry against society and one of the things we look at is what environment it happened in, whether they've got the family dynamics and things like that.

"Especially for here in New Zealand, we look at the young men we put in the boys homes during the 50s and 60s, and that's why it's important that the royal commission's coming out now, looking at those, especially young Māori men and the gangs which have come out of that.

"The percentage of those that have been sexually abused is huge."

Mr Clearwater, himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, said the trauma "totally changed things around from a happy-go-lucky kid to a nasty, sarcastic [one]".

"I got into violence, drugs, alcohol, relationships were always difficult – it completely messes around with your head in relation to what your sexuality is, and you end up taking things out on society, which I did.

"Assaulting police officers, kicked out of school at 14 for assaulting a teacher – just anywhere there was places of authority, I just attacked. I lost my job at the freezing works for assaulting a foreman, then attempted to kill someone over a game of pool several years ago when I realised I needed help.

When he sought help, however, he says he was turned away several times, which he called "disappointing". Mr Clearwater says while he hopes attitudes are changing, he said the agency "haven't seen a lot of it".

"We've been with some of the men we work with. We've been to psych emergency with the mental health system, and at the moment, our guys describe those who have been sexually abused in childhood, it's just, 'Don't worry about that now, we've got to get you contained’ and those sorts of things.

"Our psychiatrists and our psychologists and our counsellors really lack a lot in training. There are some good ones out there, but unfortunately, there’s not enough."

He says the most important thing for sexual abuse survivors is the "power of talking".

"When those three men sat at the table and all suddenly realised they weren't alone, and the power that came out of that was just amazing, and that's the same thing we do.

"We have a police officer, a Black Power [member], a Mongrel Mob [member], white power all sitting in the same room talking about the devastation that happened to them when they were children."

Male Survivors Aotearoa advocate Ken Clearwater spoke to Breakfast about what it will take to get more men to speak up. Source: Breakfast