Nia Glassie
   April 25, 2004 - August 3, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial
In video taped statements, a child told of the abuse she had been witness to in the case of Nia Glassie. The child said that she had seen the three year old girl spun around in the dryer, forced into a hole in the couch and then sat on, spun around on the clothes line until she fell off and that moves from professional wrestling were also done to this little Angel. Pedigrees, tombstones and penalties were practiced on Nia. This involved picking her up by her legs, dropping her on her head and body slamming her. All of this abuse, of course, made the little girl scream and cry out in pain. Her abusers didn't care.

The child told the abusers they should stop:

 "she might end up being sore and not wake up"

"They were putting her in the couch 'cos there's a rip in the couch and they sat on her and in 
the dryer they spinned her  round. And they put her on the line and they made her cry  and 
they made her fall off. And they put her in the sandpit and she had no pants on"

Two child witnesses gave video taped statements as to the abuse they had witnessed. The defense in this case had tried to get the judge to stop what was said in the video taped statements from being used in newspapers. The attempt to block this was denied by Justice Pamela Andrews in the High Court at Rotorua.

Jonathan Temm, the defense lawyer stated that he thought if the statements were put into the paper, it would unfairly cause people to be prejudice against his clients, Lisa Kuka, Nia's mother, her boyfriend Wiremu Curtis, his brother Michael Curtis, Michael's girlfriend Oriwa Kemp and Nia's cousin, Michael Pearson. Wiremu and Michael Curtis are charged with with murder while the others are charged with manslaughter. ALL of the defendants have denied that they hurt Nia at all.

The first child witness testified that it was Michael Pearson who had suggested that they put Nia into the dryer and that Wiremu and his brother Michael had pushed her into the dryer like a ball and turned it on:

"They turned it up to high and then they let her spin around"

CYF interviewer: "How long was she in the dryer?

Child: "Twenty minutes"

Interviewer: "And what about the door on the dryer, Was that ... "

Child: "It was closed and she kicked the door open. She kicked the door open and they 
just put her legs back in again."

The child testified that when the dryer door was opened and Nia was allowed to come out, she was conscious and her abusers then took  her outside and put her on the clothesline:

"They put her on the line and spinned her fast as so she can fall off . They done it three times 
and she 
hurt her head"

After Nia fell off of the clothesline, her abusers removed her clothes and threw her into the sandpit:

"She was crying loud and they turned on the music, they turned up the radio so that the 
next-door neighbors don't hear"

According to the child, this abuse took place only three days before Nia was taken to the Rotorua Hospital. On Wednesday, Oriwa had kicked Nia in the nose and she ended up bleeding. On Thursday, Nia was used to practice wrestling moves called penalties and was also beaten. On Friday, more wrestling moves were practiced on her and that night, the witness says that Nia was "floppy" in bed and was not able to wake up when her mother returned home and bathed her.

The child witness says that when she told them to stop hurting Nia because she might end up sore and not wake up, she was told to "shut up". The abuse of Nia had taken place over several days between July 18 and 20 of 2008.

A second child testified that Nia was floppy and frothing at her mouth after the abuse. The child said that Nia's last meal had been on Friday, July 20th and that she had eaten hot chips and an orange, for lunch. The child also stated that Nia was asleep for three days before Michael Curtis had told her mother to take her to the hospital and she did not do it.

On Saturday, there was going to be a birthday party for Michael Curtis, who was turning 21. Nia's aunt Louise took her and two other children home with her:

"Lisa told me Nia had flu. I said I will take her and look after her. She said: "promise me you 
won't take her to the hospital"

At about 4 a.m., Nia's older sister, Ester, woke up Louise saying that nia was going to vomit, the child said:

"Aunty, Nia's going to be sick"

Louise turned Nia onto her side and noticed she was frothing at her mouth. Louise made the decision to take Nia to the hospital. Michael Curtis had tried to stop her and she told him:

"I'm taking her, she's my niece"

Louise took Nia to Rotorua Hospital and she was later transferred to Auckland's Starship, Nia was found to be in a coma.

Lisa Kuka told doctors that the injuries she had were a result of  Nia falling off of the shoulders of Wiremu. However, more details of the abuse Nia suffered were starting surface. Nia was put into the fireplace where she suffered burns on her head and her feet. Her step grandfather was said to have put a scarf around her neck and lifted her off of the ground and then slammed her down, then he began to abuse her verbally. Nia had also been forced to take an ice cold bath before the incident where she was spun around in the dryer and she was left on the roof of the house screaming as well as being forced to run around the house naked and being left outside for up to an hour at a time in freezing cold weather. 

It is believed that Nia was abused throughout the months between March and July with the abuse becoming more severe in the last three days of her life. Also charged would be Wire's father, William Curtis who faced charges of assault on a child and injuring with intent to cause bodily harm.

Louise said that her nieces told her they were witnesses to the abuse that Nia had been put through:

Louise said her nieces had told her they had seen what was done to Nia:

"Jesse approached me and she said "we saw everything. They told me they saw them put Nia 
in the dryer. They put her in and turned the dial. They watched her go round and they laughed."

When asked by Police why she had not taken her daughter to the hospital, Lisa said she had did not have a vehicle and there was no phone to call for help. When asked why she had not asked someone who was coming for the party to take her she said:

"Cause at the time it was Michael's 21st, okay. It wasn't that I wanted to stay there and get drunk. 
I didn't want to know what happened" 

List went on to say that she listened to Michael Curtis and Oriwa Kemp when they told her that Nia would be fine. She said,  however:

"Deep down inside I knew she wasn't fine"

When asked Nia had been in bad shape on Saturday Lisa said:

"No, um, might've. I don't know, I hardly checked on her - not that I didn't care but Wiremu, 
was always in the room with her. Michael was going in there. They were saying that 
she's all right at the time"

She also said:

"I know it sounds stupid - I wanted to take her but I listened to them. I couldn't stand going in 
there looking at her because I knew myself that she wasn't right. But I didn't do nothing about it. 
It was too late on Sunday and if I had done something on Friday she may still be there 
with me, but she's not"

Before she was arrested, Lisa told the Detective Sergeant that she had been asking herself over and over:

"Why her, why did I not do nothing, why didn't I seek medical advice ASAP, why?" 

Lisa Kuka was allowed to visit Nia while she was in the hospital, though her visits were supervised. Kook's other two children were taken away from her, her son, who was ten and her other daughter who was eight, were taken into custody by the Child Youth And Family Services and placed with another family member.

Lisa went out clubbing to get her mind off of things. She went with her sister Louise and some other people. Louise had this to say:

 "I'm so angry with her. She knew. She knew"

Nia's paternal Grandfather, Glassie Glassie Sr., said what happened to her was disgusting. He said that Nia's father, Glassie Glassie Jr., was planning to return from New South Wales to be with Nia and that he little contact with Nia since she had moved from Tokoroa to Rotorua last year:

"In my heart right now I just want my grandchild to pull through, she is a young child. Baby is cute, 
I look at her and think what a little nice granddaughter I have. She has a big smile. I told my son 
about what happened and he was angry. I have been watching this on the news and reading 
in the paper. I don't know why this has happened"

On August 3, 2008 at 4:12 p.m., Nia died at Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland. Nia had spent most of the week on a ventilator and in a coma after the abuse she suffered. She never regained consciousness before she died. Police stated that there would be a post mortem examination of Nia's body, the next day.

"Police investigations into the injuries sustained by Nia are continuing. Police will await the 
results of the post mortem examination before considering the next steps in this inquiry"
Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper 

Nia's maternal grandmother, Polly Kuka said that she was surprised that Nia had died:

"I thought she might pull through to be honest. Nia was a lovely girl. She asked for nothing" 

Polly added that Nia was now at peace and that she has offered her daughter love, however, since she holds her daughter responsible for what happened to Nia, she will not comfort her at all:

"Surely there were some signs of something she could have seen and told us about, 
but she never said anything" 

Outside of the court house, people protested prior to the hearing beginning.

In court, Wiremu's lawyer had the NERVE to say to the jurors that they should ignore feelings of disgust about what happened to Nia saying this about the case:

"This case might scream out to you to give justice to Nia, but to decide guilt on those feelings 
would be wrong"

Craig Horsley told the High Court that Wiremu admitted to the things he did that contributed to Nia's death, however, hd did not have and intent to murder her. He said that Wiremu was guilty of manslaughter instead of murder. While he admitted that Wiremu's treatment of Nia in the last days of her life was unacceptable he stated that it was:

"Done without malice, without any appreciation of the  potential harm. He is not a murderer 
and he is not guilty of Nia's murder"

Craig told the jury that in order to convict Wiremu of murder they would need to be sure of the following:

* Wiremu kicked Nia in the head on the Friday evening the Crown

* That if he had kicked her, he intended to injure her.

* That he appreciated death was a likely consequence of his actions.

* And not withstanding that, he took the risk anyway.

This IDIOT, Craig Horsley, said that there was no medical evidence to support that kicking a three year old child in the head, would kill her. He also said that a pediatrician had stated that had Nia been taken to the hospital immediately, she most likely would have been able to survive the abuse. I wonder if ANY of them considered that if these people had NOT abused Nia, her chances at survival would have been 100% for sure!

Craig argued that the other assaults on Nia in the days that lead up to her final day could have caused the subdural hematomas and that the Crown had not excluded that as a possibility.

He said other assaults on the toddler in the days leading up to the Friday could have caused the subdural hematomas, or bleeding in her head, that killed her, and the Crown had failed to exclude this possibility. 

Witnesses had spoken of symptoms that were displayed by Nia which were consistent with having a head injury:

"We know that by 7:00 p.m. on Friday, this young girl had suffered numerous, not insignificant, 
bangs to the head"

Craig stated that the clothesline incident had started out as a game  and that Wiremu had only been watching.

"The ringleader in that scenario was Michael Curtis"

Craig claimed that Wiremu intimidated by his brother and as a slow learner, he was easily led.

"He may have been 17 years old at the time but he was operating at the level of a 
12- or 13-year-old"

Craig then went on to attack the credibility of the child witnesses who had given testimony of seeing Nia kicked in the head. He said that the child had given false evidence saying that Nia was hot and had  a bloody nose when she was taken out of the dryer. Craig claimed that tests on the dryer had shown that the dryer would only spin twice  with a child of that weight inside of it.

Jonathan Temm, the lawyer for Michael Curtis said that the evidence given by the child was unreliable and that the fatal kicks had never taken place. He argued that there was no bruising on Nia's head and that the things the child witnessed were not supported by anyone else.

Jonathan also said that a series of events led to the decline of Nia over those few days and that the wrestling moves performed on Nia, though they were stupid, were lacking in criminal intent.

How could ANYONE defend the kind of scum who is capable of doing the things that were done to Nia and to ALL of the children in this world who are abused by people they love and trust? I just don't understand it.

William Curtis, the father of Wiremu and Michael said that his family is upset about the verdicts his sons were given, he also said that life must go on. Outside of the court house he said:

"Nia ...I feel sorry for Nia, what happened shouldn't have happened. But it's all gone"

How can this man say that he feels sorry for Nia, when he abused her himself?

Panama Le'au' Anae, Lisa's lawyer said that the verdicts which had been reached were not unexpected:

"I'd imagine she, Lisa Kuka, would be devastated about the result. At the end of the day she's
got to carry the burden of having lost her child and I don't think that's anything she'll be able 
to live down"

Mr. Anae said that he had not yet discussed an appeal with Lisa, who was sentence to nine years for her part in the death of Nia:

"Like I said in my summing up, Lisa made a big mistake in hooking up with this young man, 
he made some mistakes, no one's perfect ...some are bigger than others"

Mr. Anae also said that Kuku had talked about her daughter during the trial and that she was clearly upset over losing her daughter.

Justice Judith Trotter broke down after the verdicts were read. She also thanked the jury for their work and acknowledged that the four week trial had taken a toll on all of them. She then offered them all counseling and excused them. Radio New Zealand reported that her voice began to break as she spoke and she started to cry.

"This was extremely cruel conduct on a child. These two young men were old enough to appreciate what  they were doing was wrong"

Judith spoke about Lisa Kuka:

"This was very serious neglect. She was aware Nia was being  abused and chose to ignore her defenseless three-year-old child. She turned a blind eye to what was happening to Nia because 
she  was in love with Wiremu. 
Nia was a defenseless child"

On November 18, 2008, after four weeks at trial, Wiremu, who was  19 years old by then and Michael Curtis, who was 22, were found guilty of the murder of Nia Glassie. For their crimes against Nia, the court gave them each a RIDICULOUS sentence of 17 1/2 years in prison.

Lisa Kuka, who was 35 at the time, was found guilty on two counts of manslaughter for failing to protect and seek medical attention for Nia when she needed it, her sentence was nine years in prison.

Michael Pearson, who was 20 at the time his girlfriend Oriwa Kemp, who was 18, were found not guilty of manslaughter, however, they were found guilty on other charges. They were sentenced to three years and three years four months, in prison.

Miremu, Michael Curtis, Michael Pearson and Oriwa were found guilty on ill treatment charges that related to the clothesline incident and also on general ill treatment charges, though Michael Pearson was not charged on the general ill treatment charges. Miremu and Michael Curtis both became upset  when the verdicts were read, prison guards had to restrain them.

Michael Pearson and Oriwa Kemp's lawyers had managed to distance them from the worst of the abuse charges claiming they were not directly involved and during the worst of the abuse, they were not even present.

Lisa's lawyer claimed that she was a hard working mother who only wanted the best for her children and that she had made a big mistake getting together with Wiremu, who was only 17 years old when she met him.

Craig Horsley had this to say about the sentence:

"Given the verdicts, I thought the sentence was the only appropriate sentence. We said 17 years, 
the Crown said 18 and a half starting point – can't be unhappy with 17 and a half"

Nia's aunt had this to say about the sentences:

"They should've chucked the keys away. Give them exactly the same treatment they gave to t
he child. That's what they should get, exactly what they gave to the poor kid" 
Piki Rapana

On February 13, 2009, William Curtis, who was 50 years old at the time, was found guilty of assault for the things he did to Nia, he was sentenced to ONLY four years for the abuse he gave her. The judge took ten minutes to decide what his sentence would be for the abuse. William showed NO emotion as the Judge, Phillip Cooper, told him his sentence.

William stood in the dock, with two corrections officers and smiled as he waved to two relatives who were in the courtroom. Though Judge Judith Potter had sentenced his sons last week and that had taken  most of the day, Judge Phillip Cooper sentenced William so quickly that some of his family didn't have time to get to the court hearing before he had finished. Outside, his partner Mary said:

 "What did he get"

I, personally, find it disgusting that ANYONE could want to be with a man who could torture a child this way. What kind of a woman is this Mary that a man could do what William did and she could love him any way? It makes my stomach turn!

William was sentenced to three years on the charge of assault with a weapon, which was the scarf he wrapped around Nia's neck and held her off of the ground for several seconds until her faced turned purple. He was sentenced to a year for the other charges he faced for back handing Nia and making her lip bleed, pushing her to the ground and shoving her into a wall while threatening to stomp on her head. Williams lawyer, Harry Edwards agreed with the sentence of three years for the main charge which carries a maximum sentence of ONLY five years. Harry Edwards asked the judge to be lenient with the other seven charges since his previous convictions were not for violent offenses, they were based on drunk while driving and dishonesty.

Crown Prosecutor Amanda Gordon believed that the sentence should reflect the severity of the crime:

"There was no reason for the assault. Nia was simply sitting or playing, doing nothing to inspire 
any anger from the prisoner"

Judge Phillip Cooper pointed out that William was a step-grandfather to Nia and that she had deserved to be nurtured by him. He stated that William seemed to think that violence against children is an acceptable thing:

"For no apparent reason you would walk over to her and push her to the ground. This would happen often. This child was in your house. She was defenseless and vulnerable. She was the target of inexplicable and incomprehensible violence"

William was ordered to serve the two terms cumulatively.

On March 3, 2009 or about that date, an appeal was filed on behalf of Wiremu Curtis, by his lawyer, Craig Horsley. As of today, March 6, 2009, no date has been set for that trial.

Nia's father said at her funeral that he was going to remain in New Zealand and try to gain custody of his three other children, a son and two more daughters. He left New Zealand later, without any of them. The children have since been placed to live with other family members.

Lisa Kuka attended Nia's funeral and would not answer any questions that the media had for her.

UPDATE: December 22, 2014 (Thank you goes out to Shirlena for sending me this update)

In August of 2014 Lisa Kuka was granted early parole and given a release date of September 22, 2014.  There were conditions placed on her parole and they included no contact with her children without asking permission from her Parole Office first, no overnight stays or relationships before asking for permission from her Parole Officer and no communication at all with Michael Curtis, Wiremu Curtis, Michael Pearson or Oriwa Kemp without permission. Lisa was not allowed to initiate contact with the media in any way, including Twitter, Facebook or blogs and she was to turn down any one asking to interview her or wanting her to give information about her case and she was told that she should request the same from her family and friends. Greg Newbold, Criminologist at the University Of Canterbury said that the extreme restrictions reflected the serious nature of her crime:

"What happened in this case was extraordinary. It showed an amount of cruelty towards
Nia Glassie which has seldom been seen before in the courts"

Greg Newbold said that he had never seen a social media gag before, but expected it might happen more often as a condition of parole and that it was possible that the Parole Board didn't want to be embarrassed by what Lisa might say to the media.

The Parole Board was said to have voted for early release due to the belief that Lisa had reached a point in her life where she was no longer a danger. Lisa was supposed to be released in April, however, there was a problem with a place to stay and she was said to be needing time to fix the problems and the board said she finally had figured out the problems and found a suitable place to stay.

Merepeka Taukawa-Tait was a former Women's Refuge Chief Executive and she said that Lisa had learned lessons along the way:

"The one good thing that has come out of this is that the neighbors and family
members and other people in the community are prepared if they see something
that's not right, they are prepared to speak out"

Merepeka said that with information sharing within the child protection agencies having improved, but she felt that more could be done to improve support given to at risk families, especially children who have been removed from their homes:

"There should be careful scrutiny to where children are placed. Often, family members
will put their hands up, grandparents and others. They would be the most appropriate
yet they are not being looked at in terms of placing children"

Sadly, this woman was treated compassionately when she didn't show an ounce of compassion for her daughter. Lisa should have served the entire, RIDICULOUSLY INSULTING TO NIA sentence of only nine years in prison. The Parole Board should have forced her to live every minute she was given as a sentence, in prison. Nia deserves that at the very least

Return to Nia's story
Read about Nia's burial

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