Nia Glassie’s mother has admitted she should have got medical help for her daughter well before the 36 hours it took to do so.
And, in a video-taped interview with police which was played in the High Court at Rotorua today, Lisa Kuka denied that she was drunk when she went to Rotorua Hospital with the three-year-old early on Sunday morning, July 21, last year.
The Crown alleges the toddler was fatally kicked in the head on the Friday night, July 19, and slipped into a coma.
She died in Auckland’s Starship Hospital on August 3 without regaining consciousness.
“I should have seeked (sic) medical (help) when I knew that she wasn’t up in the morning,” Kuka told Detective Mahara Alcock in September 2007.
“There is no way she ever missed out on her breakfast.”
The 35-year-old is on trial for Nia’s manslaughter — for failing to provide medical treatment and failing to protect her daughter from violence.
Her partner at the time, Wiremu Curtis, 19, and his brother Michael Curtis, 21, are accused of murdering the little girl. In evidence so far, they have pointed the finger at each other.
Also charged with manslaughter are Nia’s cousin Michael Pearson, 20, and Michael Curtis’ partner, 18-year-old Oriwa Kemp.
Apart from Pearson, all lived in the same house as Kuka and her children.
Kuka, who said she worked up to 65 hours a week at a kiwifruit packhouse in Te Puke, insisted she knew nothing of what was happening to Nia at home when she left the children in the charge of Wiremu Curtis.
Asked by the detective why she had not taken Nia to hospital on the Saturday, Kuka nodded. “Mm, good question,” she replied.
“I honestly can’t answer you on that one. I listened to Michael and Oriwa more than listening to my initiative.
“What kind of mother am I?”
She said the fact that Michael Curtis’ 21st birthday party was being held on the Saturday was not the reason she failed to get medical attention for the youngest of her six children.
“Instead of being a mother like I should and worried about her,” Kuka said she listened instead to assurances from the others that “she’s alright” and “leave her, she’s just asleep”.
The alleged final and fatal abuse of little Nia was, the Crown contends, on the Friday night when Kuka had gone out to return her brother’s car. Oriwa also went to drive her back home.
Kuka said that when Nia had not woken by about 10am on Saturday she was asking: “Why’s that girl not up? When I came home last night she was up and now look at her.”
In response to their repeated checks and reports that Nia was all right she said: “Nah, there is something wrong with her.”
There was no way Nia would sleep that long, Kuka told the interviewer. “She’s too nosy.”
Her sister arrived and said: “That girl’s not sick. She’s more than sick.”
Kuka said no one would answer the question of what was wrong with Nia.
Wiremu Curtis carried Nia out of the house to go with the other children to Kuka’s sister’s while the 21st celebration was on.
To the detective, Kuka candidly said she had drunk “a box of 18s” (a ready mix of vodka and lemonade) by herself over the afternoon and evening of the party.
“I wasn’t saying I was strictly sober.”
Her sister woke her sometime between 4 and 5.30am on Sunday to express concern about Nia “and that’s when I got really worried”.
They picked up the toddler from Kuka’s sister’s house and took her to hospital.
The trial is continuing this week.