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New Zealand Herald

31 August 2000

Warrior Princess Xena weeps for kids

By Catherine Masters

lucyxena.jpg (9708 bytes)Lucy Lawless, the woman behind television's tough Xena, Warrior Princess persona, sits at her kitchen table and weeps when she learns of yet another toddler beaten to death by a parent.

When she read in the Herald at the weekend about the terrible fate of three-year-old Tangaroa Matiu, bashed to death by his stepfather with a piece of fence paling, it was the last straw in a long list of "dire" child abuse cases.

So she picked up the phone and rang the Commissioner for Children's office, offering to do whatever she could to help stop the abuse.

"I'm like everybody, humbled in the face of the enormity of this problem, but it's very vulgar to have a public face and not try to put it to some good use.

"It's been something I've been meaning to ring up and offer for a little while now and then the article in the Herald the other day made me make the phone call.

"I'm a new mum and I just love our babies and I guess I feel like it's all of our responsibilities to try to help raise healthy children, healthy New Zealanders with good self-esteem."

She did not want to sit at home and think that "just because it's not happening in my house it's not my problem as well, being a citizen of this country."

As the mother of two - Daisy, 12 and Julius, 10 months - she has no idea what she can do.

But so far, neither does the commissioner, Roger McClay. His office was "brainstorming" yesterday to come up with ideas to take advantage of Ms Lawless' offer and similar offers by other New Zealanders.

Ms Lawless says she has no personal history of abuse in her life. "I want all babies to be as loved as I was and as my kids are."

She said that when she read about abuse of children, "I just cry for lost potential and how beautiful those kids are ... A legacy of abuse and neglect has a long life. It affects people for the rest of their life and affects the choices they make. Not all people who are abused go on to abuse their own children, but such a significant number do."

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