Friends and neighbours have leapt to the defence of a family accused of abusing Child, Youth and Family (CYF) children in their care.
Associates of Wellsford couple Andrew and Jenny-Lee Hemara said they were "dumbfounded" by the allegations and a long-time neighbour said he was "angry" at the charges.
The Hemaras face a raft of child abuse charges including allegations they scrubbed the bodies and teeth of children in their care with wire brushes, forced them to sleep outside without blankets and to run until they vomited.
Along with their daughter, Tamara Hemara, they face a total of 38 charges.
Mr Hemara said his lawyer had advised him not to comment but they would defend the allegations.
Those who know the couple said they were shocked and surprised by the charges.
Wellsford teacher aide Pete Wynwood, who had organised school camps with the Hemaras in the past, said he was "dumbfounded" by the allegations. "I haven't seen any of that," he said.
The pair were heavily involved in the community and "spoiled" their children, he said. He had not heard any suggestions that children in the couple's care were being mistreated.
Neighbour Russel Rambaud said: "We've been living next to them for years and you know what's going on. They are good people, definitely."
Mr Rambaud said many of the children the Hemaras had fostered over the years were supporting them through the allegations and many had gone on to get employment and lead good lives.
Asked what their disciplinary style was, Mr Rambaud said: "They had rules. That's all they had was rules."
The Hemaras have also run camps for young people, with the help of their children including Tamara.
A Bebo page dedicated to the King Country Connection Camps is filled with positive messages from young people who attended.
Police allege the abuse was carried out over seven years until last September when one of the boys told a social worker during a routine visit to the home.
Jenny-Lee Temara, 49, is facing 10 charges of assault and three of wilful ill-treatment. She and her husband Andrew allegedly scrubbed the bodies and teeth of two of the boys using a wire brush, forced one boy's face into a plate of food and made him eat and and forced another to sleep outside.
Mrs Temara is also accused of chaining those two boys together, and kicking, punching and throwing objects at both.
It is alleged she threw a piece of wood and a metal stool at one of the boys.
Her husband, Andrew John Temara, 52, faces 17 charges of assault, and five of wilful ill-treatment.
He allegedly forced one boy's hand into a fire until it burnt, ripped an earring out of his ear, and assaulted another boy by forcing his neck backwards over the metal pole of a bunk bed.
It is alleged he cleaned the teeth of a boy with a wire brush, and punched two others in the face.
He and his daughter, Tamara, allegedly forced two of the boys to run around a track until they vomited.
Tamara Lee Hemara, 21, has been charged with one count of assault, and two of wilful ill-treatment.
It is alleged she assaulted one of them by punching and kicking him repeatedly.
The children these charges relate to were in the care of the Hemaras between 2004 and 2010.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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