Newborn baby found dead at Auckland recycling centre: Onehunga community offers funeral

An Auckland community has offered to claim the body of a baby girl found dead at an Auckland recycling facility and want to hold a funeral for her.

The baby was found last Monday night by staff at the Onehunga site.

A post-mortem carried out on Wednesday confirmed it was baby girl who was born at full term.

Police are still looking for her mother and have made a number of appeals for the woman to come forward.

Today it emerged via a Twitter post that Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor Josephine Bartley had written to police, offering to claim the baby on behalf of the community.

She said she had also been approached by St Peter’s Church, which has offered to hold a service for the infant and bury her in a graveyard.

Bartley told Newstalk ZB that if the baby’s family did not come forward, the community will.

“I have written to police that as a community of Onehunga we will claim her,” she said.

“St Peter’s church have offered to hold her a funeral. This is why I love our community.

She said she hoped that the offer to claim the baby would draw the mother out – and let her know there was community support for her.

St Peter’s vicar’s warden Dayna Townsend also hoped the baby’s mother would reach out to police – but said if that did not happen, the infant deserves the dignity of a funeral regardless.

Aucklanders have responded positively to the suggestion of a send off for the baby and say they would attend if it was held after lockdown when restrictions on public gatherings had lifted.

“Beautiful tribute, she will know that she was loved,” said one woman.

The police investigation into the baby’s death is ongoing.

The Herald has reached out to the investigation team for comment on the offer.

Yesterday the officer in charge of Operation Deer, the investigation into the baby’s death, made a heartfelt plea to the mother to reach out.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said police are still no closer to finding the woman.

“This baby girl is laying in a mortuary with no name and no one to give her the funeral she deserves so she can be laid to rest,” he said today.

“We are still following other lines of inquiry but continue to urge anyone with information to come forward.

“We would like to remind our community that anyone who comes forward will be able to speak with police in confidence and we are treating this matter with the utmost sensitivity.”

Late last week police released images of items of clothing located in a blue plastic bag that was found during their scene examination at the recycling plant.

“The baby may have been in the blue bag, which also included several items of baby, children’s and adult clothing,” Beard said.

“The clothing includes a child’s beanie, a distinctive pink child’s sweater and pink T-shirt, women’s belts and two women’s tops and a sequined skirt that appears to have been cut up.

“There were also two baby onesies with colourful prints on them located in the area, which may have also come out of the bag.”

Beard said it was important to find the baby’s mother not only to identify her, but to make sure she was safe and healthy.

“Not only do we want to identify the baby girl’s mother to ensure her welfare and get her the medical assistance and support she needs, but we also want to get some answers for the sake of this little girl,” he said.

“She has no name … The sooner police can identify her mother, the sooner this baby girl can be treated with the respect she deserves.

Can you help?

• Anyone with information can contact the Operation Deer inquiry team 105 quoting file number 210816/2825 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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