Cherishsiliala Tahuri-Wright
2002 - January 31, 2006
All Nofosione Wright is asking is for someone to tell him why his daughter has died.

Nofosione is upset, shocked and angry about the death of his daughter, Cherish. Cherish was found with severe head injuries in the house where her maternal grandmother, her grandmothers partner and a one other child, on February 17, 2009. Two days later, Cherish would be taken off of life support and she would die at Wellington Regional Hospital, she was only three years old.
 

Nofosione said that he visited Cherish every night. Living in Cannons Creek, which is near Poiriua, where Cherish lived with Gina Marie Tahuri, her mother he would take her for rides in the car or to go shopping. Nofosione was planning
to buy Cherish her first bicycle this year:

"It's so sad. I want to know what happened, I still don't know. I just don't know why. I'm not 
thinking well, I feel like everything that came before Cherish's death was so good, she was 
all I wanted"

Nofosione said that his daughter was supposed to go to the home of her grandmother, in Marton, but, only for a few days. He had not wanted her to go at all. Cherish was going to go to a birthday party. As it turned out, Cherish was there for almost three weeks.

On February 17, 2009, an ambulance was called to the home where Cherish lived. Neighbors said that Cherish was gasping for breath and she was bloodied, before the emergency services got there.

Nofosione was angry and said he couldn't even think about going to the home where she lived. He talked about what a wonderful little girl she was, that she loved the color pink and she was "getting smart":

"She was always talking even though she couldn't say the words. When she would say, 
"Shut up'", it wouldn't even come out clearly. It sounded like "shup'"

Police were working to do a thorough investigation and trying to find out exactly how Cherish was injured:

"It's a case of working with medical professionals to see what they can tell us, and what t
he scene can tell us, and what the family can tell us, piecing that together to find 
how the injuries were caused"
Kim Perks Police Central District Communications Manager 

On February 19, 2009, Cherish was taken off of life support and she died. Police launched a homicide investigation after Cherish was taken off of life support saying that the injuries she suffered were not being treated as an accident. A post mortem was done to find out the cause of her injuries:

"Following detailed consultation we are satisfied that the injuries could not have been 
caused by accident and that we are in fact investigating a homicide. Cases 
involving children are always emotionally charged so it has been important for us 
to take our time liaising with medical professionals and not jump to any conclusions"
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan

Police did investigate and check out the house where Cherish lived knowing that it was possible that a homicide had been committed there.

"I take comfort in knowing that those thorough actions will assist us in seeking justice for
Cherish and her family"

Detective Sergeant Craig Sheridan said that the family of Cherish was cooperating and that an investigation had been launched, though no charges had been made at that time and that 20 officers were working on the case along with a team of ESR scientists:

 “It is tragic news that this little girl has died. From an investigative point of view nothing has 
changed. The investigation from the outset has been thorough and has been about establishing 
how the child was injured and keeping an open mind. Until we have confirmation of how the 
child was injured that situation remains the same”
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan

A neighbor said that the grandmother had come to her home and was upset:

"She was jittery and panicky. She was saying 'I don't know what to do'"
anonymous neighbor

The neighbor called police and then an ambulance. The grandmother and the neighbor both went to see Cherish:

"She was laying in her bed. It looked like she was asleep, she was sort of gasping for breath - 
they said it was sort of like asthma. She had bruises on the face, she was bleeding from 
the mouth."

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan, of Palmerston North, who is the head of an investigation team said:

"It is tragic news that this little girl has died. From an investigative point of view nothing has 
changed. Our staff are working very closely with the young girl's family to attempt to estimate 
where the injury occurred. I see the next three days being pretty full on. We will be supporting
the family, but here in Marton we need to be making some progress around the house."

A three year old boy was taken to Child, Youth And family custody, He was not a sibling of Cherish. Craig Sheridan said that this was the best option for this boy at the time. At the time, the grandmother was going to stay with a friend while the house was being checked. The friend said that the grandmother was unstable since the child had been taken to the hospital and that the grandmothers partner was confused about what happened.

On February 4, 2009, there were questions as for why it took the ambulance crew about 2 1/2 hours to get Cherish to the hospital. The St. John Ambulance stated that an internal investigation was being conducted to figure out why officers took so much time to call a rescue helicopter for transport. At 12:15 p.m., emergency services were called and it wasn't until 2:40 p.m. that Cherish actually arrived at the hospital:

"It really pisses me off to think they dicked around for a couple of hours while a little girl was dying. 
You don't have to be Einstein to work out a child with head injuries has to go straight to hospital 
any parent would know that instinctively"
Family spokeswoman and Porirua Deputy Mayor Litea Ah Hoi

The drive from Feilding is only about 25 minutes away from the home where Cherish was. An ambulance was sent from Wanganui, however it was called back when it was five minutes away because a rescue helicopter had been called. At a little before 1:00 p.m., the helicopter was called and Cherish arrived at the Palmerston North Hospital at about 2:40 p.m..

A paramedic at St. John said that the ambulance officer who had been the first one to respond asked for backup as soon as he realized that he didn't have the experience necessary to treat injuries as bad as the ones Cherish had. The paramedic sighted this as another sign that the ambulance service was at a point of crisis:

"Why wasn't she taken taken straight to hospital? That's the big question. This kind of 
disorganization is normal to us, it happens all the time"

The paramedic also said he was shocked that Cherish was not taken to the hospital immediately and that the delay was unacceptable:

"The whole thing's woefully inadequate. It was 2 1/2 hours before that child got to hospital. She 
was in a critical state and that's when they need to get to hospital in a very short time"

It was confirmed by at St. John spokeswoman that a local doctor, who was employed by the ambulance service, was sent to the attend to Cherish after the emergency call came. Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan claimed that the ambulance response was "first rate". It was his understanding that the delay was due to the time it had taken to get Cherish stabilized for transportation. The criticism of the treatment of Cherish comes along just as the Health Minister Tony Ryall announced a $10. million dollar injection for the ambulance sector.

On March 3, 2009, Police confirmed that the investigation had shown the injuries that were inflicted upon Cherish were NOT an accident. A homicide investigation had been started.

On April 2, 2009, St. John came out in defense of their care and treatment of Cherish. Their findings showed that there WAS an immediate response, by ambulance, to the home where Cherish had been living. 

In his statement, Tony Blaber, St. John Operations Director said that the findings show an Advanced Life Support capable Doctor had been on the scene within 19 minutes and a double crewed ambulance had arrived within the next minute:

"In addition a clinical manager with specialist skills, an Advanced Life Support emergency 
helicopter and an Advanced Life Support crew from Wanganui were also mobilized. The 
patient received high level clinical care at the scene and needed to be stabilized 
before being transported to hospital in an air ambulance" 
Tony Blaber

The investigation shows that the care given to Cherish was of a high standard and her treatment had no impact on the final outcome of the case. Tony Blaber said that further investigation is required and that and internal investigation is taking place. The union who represents a group of ambulance offices claims that St. John is short staffed on the ground:

"It needs a large overhauling and I believe it should ideally be a state run system either by the fire service or Primary Health Organization" 
Jim Bilby from the Central Ambulance Association

St. John agrees and says it is no secret that they are short of drivers for ambulances:

"We have claimed often and loud that we are under resourced as an ambulance service"
Tony Blaber

Tony Blaber said that St. John sends their condolences to the family of Cherish and they want to let them know that this case is being taken very seriously.

The mother of Cherish said that she often let her mother baby sit:

"Mum used to baby sit Cherish often. It was never a problem. She was happy to do it for me"

Joanne Tahuri originally told authorities that Cherish had fallen and had been hit by her cousin who was also a
toddler at the time. It would eventually be revealed that the Grandmother of Cherish, 57 year old Joanne Tahuri, had inflicted the injuries to Cherish which caused her death. Stating that she was under stress for various reasons, Joanne said that she had hit Cherish and that hit was strong enough to cause the bleeding between her brain and her skull. Joanne  pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of her Granddaughter.

In an unbelievable move, her defense attorney tried to use the statement  that a three year old cousin had been partly to blame for the death of this beautiful little girl.

Joanne's partner, Alan Hunia, said in court that Cherish was quiet, slow and clumsy. Alan stated that the cousin
of Cherish, who lives with them was sometimes mean and rough with Cherish. In court he stated that Chiefy at 
times kicked Cherish and would hit her on the head"

"You just couldn't trust him at all. He wanted attention all the time. Running down the road 
was one of his favorite pastimes. He wanted attention" 
Alan Hunia

Alan said that he had once hit Joanne in front of Chiefy, he denied other abuse of Joanne and said of Cherish:

"But I never ever hit Cherish, I never hit the girl."

UPDATE:

On June 20, 2010, Joanne Tahuri was found guilty of the death of Cherish. SHOCKINGLY she was sentenced to
ONLY five years and nine months of jail time. Below is a short part of a news story that can be found in the links
provided after this story:

Justice Gendall sent Tahuri,  57, to jail for five years and nine months.

Cherish died in the early hours of February 19 in Wellington Hospital from injuries that the neurosurgeon said could not have been survived.

Justice Gendall said Tahuri's assault on her granddaughter was brief and occurred quickly, which caused Cherish to decline rapidly with bleeding between the brain and skull.

Only when Judge Gendall began his address did Tahuri lift her head from her hands as she sat in the dock.

The trial for murder opened on May 17, but in the third week Tahuri amended her plea of not guilty to murder to guilty of manslaughter.

In his submission, Crown prosecutor Lance Rowe told the court that one blow from "Tahuri's sudden loss of control was sufficient to cause the fatal injuries to Cherish".

Mr Rowe said the Crown accepted that there were issues with the middle-aged grandmother who was legal guardian of another grandchild, also aged three.

He said Tahuri was not well-equipped and under stress.  Tahuri lacked sleep and woke to a flooded kitchen, but there was no reason why Cherish should have borne the brunt of her grandmother's loss of control.

Tahuri was seen by members of the Marton community hitting both her grandchildren, which Justice Gendall said were aggravating features in her sentencing.

Tahuri was clearly grief-stricken after hearing the Crown's submission of her actions that caused the death of her granddaughter.

Defence lawyer Peter Brosnahan told the court Tahuri was a person with significant functioning disabilities.


Return to Cherish's Story
Please click here to read something that was sent to me by a friend of Cherish's mother and see some pictures
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Death occurred in New Zealand

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