Letter to Judge

This submission is couched in terms of a presentation to a Family Court Judge, but could equally apply in a Civil/Criminal Court as basis for a Case against CYFS/MSD, or presentation to Parliament as guidance for the current Minister [Anne Tolley] in her Staff Audit. Though a Labour supporter myself, I acknowledge the cross-Party support given to this venture. From that, I would hope to see a less brutal government and, with a successful Civil case as above, with the Poseur SW in our case (and any of her ilk) removed from any personal interaction with clientele or input to Legal system (perhaps even personally convicted of serial Child Abuse and forced to live by the new regime’s rules), and perhaps even some improvement in our ability to repair the damage done. At that point I would begin to acknowledge the Misintry as being ‘of Social Development’. Until then I deem it a Ministry of Societal Destruction.


They’re the Government, right? Then what they say must be true, yeah?

Sorry your honour, it ain’t necessarily so. Take our dealings with CYFS.

Damage to the teeth of our eldest grandson finally alerted Authority to the abuse in the house. What happened? CYFS stepped in with their Nazi jackboots and ripped all the children of the house out into custody from wherever they were. This was backed up by what I assume was a Court Order.

Now we, as Grandparents, had been attempting to alert these deaf coots to the situation for years. 5 children were affected – 3 older and 2 younger, all having suffered both abuse and neglect all their lives. The eldest 3 were at this stage staying with us for the holidays, and happy and safe in our care. The younger 2 were still ‘at home’ with mother and father (stepfather to the elder 3). All were uplifted in one fell swoop.

Was that piece of official-looking paper actually a Court Order? If so, what information was given the Judge who rubber-stamped it? Yes, your honour, rubber-stamped. There was too little time for more than such between the reporting of the tooth damage and the officious early-morning swoop. Repeat line 1 above.

I can understand, even applaud, the uplifting of the younger 2 – they were also in danger where they were, as per our prior assertions. What I can’t understand or condone is the removal of the older 3 from our home. Yes, all were in need of protection, but the older 3 were protected, and would have remained so – by distance and our presence – right where they were, at our home, which they knew as a refuge.

Our following interview at CYFS’ office was not an occasion for consultation – it was a session of pontification. As a Step-grandfather I had little or no legal footing for any input, but my parting words to the ‘secretary’ (a Senior Social worker – irony here) were to the effect of “these kids have suffered all their lives from abuse – I hope Institutional abuse is not added to this.” How prophetic – subsequent history has borne me out, quashing that hope.

All sorts of ‘dirty tricks’ have been inflicted on this family, going right back to the birth of my wife (these childrens’ Nana). Her criminal conviction, long since, has been dragged up time after time, but has any bureaucrat actually thought about it? I think not – bureaucrats are not paid to think.

I would submit that the sentence imposed should give one pause: 6 years (3 served) for attempted murder? That, your honour, would be more in keeping with protective custody against public backlash, but in any case it would seem the sentencing judge deemed it the minimum he could impose with minimum possibility of dispute. My wife took it as respite and refuge from an abusive relationship, and the self-development courses (for which she has documented commendations as herself a Mentor from the prison head!) gave her the strength of character I admire in the woman I’ve loved since meeting in 2002 and marrying 5 weeks later (!). Nothing in the intervening years has given me cause to doubt her, or the folly of the conviction on record. The bureaucrats of CYFS and MSD, your honour, have been rebuked in court for this tactic – but too late to be of any benefit to the children. In effect, your honour, there is a 2-pronged folly in that too: firstly a ‘reinvention of the wheel’ in ignoring both Police and Corrections’ release of my wife as a fit-for-Society human being (with commendations as a Mentor!), and secondly a pre-biblical visitation of the ‘sins of the fathers’ on our grandchildren. This, plus their ignorance of their own commendation on record of my wife as a Protector!

Even before the Uplifting, CYFS were playing dirty tricks. The childrens’ mother had a Home Invasion (a retribution for a supposed debt of her former partner, father to the 3 children at the time) soon after my marriage to her mother, and we took her and hers under our wing, in our/my/the bank’s ‘State’ house. This was patently too small, so we sold to a ‘rent-to-buy’ investor (barely recouping my mortgage) and bought a larger in another town from that buyer. It worked out quite well. I gave the daughter the deposit (from my father’s estate), and stipulated a clause that gave us tenancy rights to the Studio and Garage. This gave us close contact for guidance and care (and refuge). With second partner (father to the younger 2 by now) buying into the house and re-financing, the tenancy clause (unknown to us) was dropped. When abuse escalated to the point where I attempted to calm and clarify, all hell let loose and I was accused of Home Invasion. At that point we were evicted (CYFS asked why we had chosen to leave – we didn’t choose, we were evicted!) and advised (verbally) of the nature of the place we should look for (we selected our current abode, and have been there since – a point of stability for the children) as being suitable and safe for children, as we were likely to be housing them. Further, we were advised to equip for 5 kids – furniture and clothing – which, with the cost of relocation, financially crippled us. Time went by and no kids – what the …? This proved two things: firstly, the first major LIE from Authority; and secondly, that lie was known and understood as such by at least the 3 older children.

It would seem there has been a 3-pronged attack on these children’s welfare: firstly pillar-to-post shuffling from caregiver to caregiver (seems to be the norm!), and secondly the overriding assertion, despite any evidence to the contrary, that children’s place is with their mother. Thirdly, the use of the second above as ammunition – bureaucratic and legal toys for the drug-skewed mind of an immature little girl to throw at her mother. Soon after she became involved with partner No. 2, we sensed that this would not be a wholesome relationship, and sought legal advice with a view to providing a legal channel for Family care and protection of our grandchildren. The counsel we found available under Legal Aid took what proved to be a step too far, applying for supplementary custody. The mother failed to recognise the ‘supplementary’ part of this and over-reacted, accusing us of trying to take away her children (her dolls?), and has never relented, throwing at us any legally possible barrier to our care of the children.

As the boys (in particular) went through puberty, they started talking ‘sexy stuff’, and my wife asked for permission to give the the ‘birds and bees’ talk. This, your honour, was met with a shock-horror reaction of “leave it to the education system”. Oh yeah? Too late again (Bureaucracy, by its very nature, cannot be timely – a basic flaw in the governance of the chaotic system we call Society). The eldest lad was video-recorded completing the dare posed by the under-age girl in the caregiver’s house, having not had the teaching (and confirmed absorption) of the age-limit on sexual activity. This was later used by CYFS as another ‘dirty trick’: pornography.

CYFS asserted that we had allowed the boys to view pornography. It would seem this was determined from an interview with the eldest lad that according to him went something like this:

Q: Have you seen sexually graphic material?

A: Yes.

Q: Where did you see this?

A: On a computer.

Q: Are you allowed Internet access at your Nana’s place?

A: Yes.

From this it was automatically assumed that he had watched such at our home, in effect either “3 strikes, you’re out” or “1 + 1 + 1 = 111! El Dorado! This’ll get rid of that thorn-in-the-side family’s interference!”

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth! We offered all our internet-able devices for professional analysis to confirm or refute their assertion. They rejected this, convinced in their arrogance of their own version of what they portray as ‘truth’. On the contrary, the eldest lad asserts that the material in question was on his mother’s computer (and, from reports of the youngest 2 children, blatantly displayed on the walls of her/their abode. Had – or even has – any on-site impromptu investigation been done? It seems, in fact, that it’s only the fact [they perceive] that visits with their mother are Court-ordered that makes them endure their regular visits there).

All this despite the contrast in call-centre communications, where our ineractions were always calm even if concerned. We can’t verify but have no reason to doubt that those from ’mother’ were anything other than hysterical rants – that was certainly what we were accustomed to enduring. Are call-centre staff trained to acuurately attribute such in their reports? I doubt it – one report on record is attributed to a mis-heard surname (though a well-known family member with a personal childhood grudge and no concern whatever for the children’s welfare).

One of the visits from the children’s Social Worker at our house had said SW declaring blatantly and openly gleefully at our kitchen table that she was a ‘mini-Hitler’ and that she slept well at nights knowing exactly what she does to families. Indeed, your honour, is this indicative of the quality of leadership and (Ministry?) oversight of the environment in which our ‘civil servants’ – obsolete term there – are being trained and exercise the power our political system grants them?

Rot at the core!

The upshot of this, your honour, is that we ceased to have any faith in CYFS doing anything beneficial for our grandchildren, and cut off verbal communications – we’d been lied to too many times. We continued communicating as necessary, but only by written letter or email where we could retain documentary proof of content. By this stage, your honour, the eldest boy had ‘aged out’ of their system and, refusing to return to mother (partner having been jailed for the tooth incident), has since come ‘home to Nana’. His younger brother has since done likewise, but there are issues there beyond our capacity, and it’s a shaky tenure.

Our care of the boys has been a strain, particularly at first given the disparity between CYFS’ release from Custody (I hesitate to call it ‘care’), and the availability of financial support / benefit. Our persistence in doing so as Beneficiaries/Pensioners should give the Court a perspective on our devotion.

Eldest gradson has been, at [mainly infrequent and brief domestically-stable] times, a stellar student at school, but having to deal with second lad’s insistence that he’s just as big or bigger, good or better, has dragged him down. Incarceration in CYFS’ ‘residences’ (Borstals by another name) and sub-standard/disrupted/myopic teaching therein, combined with the stigma of both conviction as a criminal and even declaring where that period in his education occurred, have destroyed what spark there was. Years in our care are gradually restoring some life there, but it’s a long hard uphill. Having to declare his conviction and having no confidence in its confidentiality against open investigation is an ongoing barrier to employment. He is aware (as are we) of its applicability for cases of fraud or violence, but considers a childhood misdemeanour (yes, your honour childhood – the misdemeanour was, as I understand it, committed while still legally a child but maliciously not revealed until legally an adult) excessively and permanently punished. A further result of his incarceration has been extreme reluctance to speak – either to voice concerns or even to reply to direct questions – within the family home, let alone to strangers or Authority figures. This, your honour, indicates distrust of any Authority better than any book-learned bureaucrat’s 5-minute (or even half-hour) consultation is likely to reveal. Is this the quality of humanity customarily released into the wild by the System? I should hope not!

Second grandson has never been mentally complete. We insist the mother’s drug use damaged him from conception. He ‘coat-tails’ rather than actually thinking and learning, yet insists he’s as good or better than anyone. He has barely if at all got beyond the infantile ‘bigger/more is better’, and this evidently was the case, completely overlooked by CYFS, in the ‘dare’ episode. From further info gleaned from various sources, it would seem that Eldest lad never got much past ‘touchy-feely’ (though we’ve never been permitted to view the video evidence), whereas Second lad went all-out – and several times, almost ‘as-of-right’. CYFS seems to have trouble identifying, with actions of one attributed to other. Second lad’s social development has never advanced to recognition of others’ rights or the possible effects of his actions. Quite possibly he cannot perceive timeline or realise that the ongoing effects of things that happen to him would have like effects on others. He certainly has endured a lot of punishments for his missteps/misdeeds but little reward for things he manages to get right. I try to give him that, when I do get the occasional glimpse of ‘rightness’. Material reward, though, which is what he would mostly be able to acknowledge as such, is beyond our means – besides which he habitually breaks any physical object (this he has done since birth!) at the slightest incidence of frustration.

Neither boy has derived any joy in reading ( the main conduit of past wisdom into the present and beyond), having not been educated so much as taught – facts drummed into them by Authority. As a result they have litlle or no respect for the wisdom to be found there (reading or authority), or indeed anywhere! Second lad refuses to acknowledge any direction other than his own innately-skewed law.

Both boys have had issues with Education: at one Primary school they were mercilessly bullied for their (father-mandated) hairstyles. The Head’s reaction: consignment to the ‘too-hard’ basket. The elder lad suffered attempted stabbing and death threat at High School, and the younger was bused out-of-town to another High School to remove him from immediate Gang threat.

Our granddaughter has escaped much (though not all) of the abuse, and has always been close to us. At one point she was offered the choice of placement: Nana, Mum, or CYFS’ choice. We were hoping for her choice of option 3 ( 1 would cause ructions, 2 would be distasteful) would have CYFS choosing 1 and lead her to us, but no: she was placed with her Paternal grandmother (who had vehemently rejected anything to do with her son). No, CYFS inveigled her into accepting the placement, and beyond initial doubts and fears we have come to accept it. Having met her Nan and Social Worker, too, we can now commend that action, but it’s been a slow acceptance. She was always a bright one, and advanced, but ‘plateaued’ at first with new environment before continuing to shine. Her placement has, though, created an unfortunate distance between us, though we get a sense that she is already creating her own path in life – and we value that.

The youngest 2 children have been placed with their paternal great-aunt. After initial concerns, we have developed good rapport with her, and with CYFS now out of their lives (it’s ‘home-for-life’) we are now content to witness their progress from regular visits and ‘phone calls.

I now reiterate, your honour, “As a Step-grandfather I had little or no legal footing for any input”. It is only recently that Ministry has acknowledged my involvement as a Grandparent. Though not biologically so, I am the only Granddad these children have known, and they are all precious to me.

The treatment meted out to them and us by Authority generated in me an unfamiliar emotion: true Anger! This, in turn, caused/accelerated/contributed to a TIA/stroke at one point, and even before then my lifetime of dissatisfaction, a Virgo perfectionist always looking for ‘better’ or excellence and not finding it, has led to presentation as angry. I try to mitigate this by shaving my eyebrow across the bridge of my nose, but being deaf I still have a habitual frown of concentration (to discern fine nuance in communications). Being unable to hear the ‘courtroom mumble’ (see * below) at the only sitting I attended of Family Court, I exited as being supernumerary, and even this could have been construed as anger to the fine sensibilities of the courtroom-trained and -acclimated. As a result I have refrained from attendance at those sittings, relying instead on reports from my wife. All I heard seemed fairly logical, but the overall effect at each stage was ‘deeper do-do’s’ – more bureau-crap piled on, sticking-plasters over the gaping festering sore of CYFS’ / Ministry’s ignorant arrogance. Had I any ‘right of reply’ or courtroom decorum (which I still have not, being no bureaucrat myself), I might have mitigated much of the damage done in this sorry affair.

*’courtroom mumble’: the provision of microphones has seemingly led to those so provisioned speaking only loudly enough to register to those on the other end: the Judge, presumably, and the Court Recorder, plus other counsel seated nearby. The ability to be heard by all present seems to be a thing of the past. Yes, I am deaf, but even with hearing aids turned up I could not discern counsels’ spoken content from my place in the ‘stalls’. From this I inferred that my mode of speech would be unacceptable in that setting: my deafness causes me to speak loudly (to just hear myself!), and should I add emphasis I could be perceived as SHOUTING. I also need to carefully consider all being said, as I have witnessed the brutality of both reactions to misunderstandings from any quarter and of the fictions posed by well-funded and -trained Government counsel as their version of ‘truth’, and the time taken for such consideration runs counter to the immediacy of the Courtroom.

From all the above, I hope that you will consider this constructive input from a vitally-concerned individual of higher intelligence than your ‘usual Noddy’ supplicants.

Yours faithfully,

Dexter Nickalls Muir, N.Z.C.E.