Outrage for Moko drives rally in North

By Alexandra Newlove

Moko Rangitoheriri.
Moko Rangitoheriri.

Nationwide outrage at the prolonged violence which killed 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri has reached the North, with a march carrying the clarion cry "Not One More Child" on Sunday.

Phil Paikea, Whangarei's March for Moko co-ordinator and White Ribbon ambassador, said the event was born out of a "passion to see our babies safe".

"But that passion has turned to anguish that we've allowed this to go on unabated," he said.

"We can blame alcohol, drugs, circumstance, colonisation, but actually, you can't make excuses to kill a child. There are none."

Taupo toddler Moko died after being kicked, slapped, stomped on and bitten over several weeks by Tania Shailer and David Haerewa, who had been entrusted to care for him.

The pair had originally been charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a charge downgrade which has sparked outrage.

Northland, too, has had its share of children killed and seriously harmed by abuse.

In July 2011, Norefjell Davis was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for the manslaughter of 2-year-old Jacqui Petersen-Davis, who was "kicked around like a soccer ball", before she died.

Last year, Northland DHB staff filed more than 600 "reports of concern" about children.

Just today the Northern Advocate reports (on page 5) on a methamphetamine-fuelled man who raped a Whangarei 3-year-old and gave her a sexually transmitted disease. When told about the case, Mr Paikea was speechless.

"I have no answer to that to be honest. That is shocking," he said.

He said Sunday would not be a "blow in, blow out" event.

"It's time to sit up and take notice. There may need to be law changes around manslaughter and murder," Mr Paikea said.

Mr Paikea had formerly abused his partner, and said in his own case "modelling" had played a part. "I did it because I could, it was modelled to me and I got away with it.

"I used emotional and physical abuse to get my way and it worked every time so it was ingrained - until I got my wake-up call."

He said there needed to be movement "right across the social sector" to keep children safe. This needed include everything from tougher sentencing to better education.

On Sunday, Mr Paikea said churches would close their doors and bring their congregations on the march, and Mr Paikea invited anyone and everyone to attend.

People are invited to gather from 12.30pm at Haven Falls Funeral Home at 139 Bank St, for a 1pm hikoi.

- Northern Advocate

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