Moka mystery deepens

Property taken from home

The mystery surrounding the death of 32-year-old Rawene woman Barbara Moka has deepened with the revelation that clothing, her wallet and cell phone have vanished from her home.

It is thought the property was taken in the days after the mother of four died at Omanaia in the South Hokianga.

Police upgraded their investigation to a homicide inquiry after Ms Moka's body was found on Wednesday afternoon, near the marae where she was last seen on June 9. Around the same time a man appeared in the Kaikohe District Court in relation to the inquiry, but all details have been suppressed until at least tomorrow. It is understood that the man surrendered himself to police on Tuesday night.

A post mortem has been conducted in Auckland to establish the cause of death, and the body has been returned to Ms Moka's family. The Northland Age understands she will be laid to rest in Mangere today.

Police called a press conference in Kaikohe on Thursday where they appealed for help in finding property missing from Ms Moka's home, including an old-style grey and black Nokia cell phone, a wallet and much of her clothing, most of the garments size 8 or smaller.

Police also want to hear from anyone who saw two vehicles on Sunday, June 9, and Monday, June 10. They are a red 1997 two-door Toyota Cynos saloon, registration CBH261, and a green and grey 1990 Nissan Terrano, TF2603. It is understood the cars may have been used to remove Ms Moka's property. They were not stolen, but police stressed that their usual occupants were not suspects in the inquiry.

Information should go to the Kaikohe police station, phone (09) 405-2960, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555-111.

Ms Moka's body was found in bush about 800 metres up a metal farm road between the marae and the scene of a minor crash involving Ms Moka's car at about 1am on June 9, just outside the search area.

Court suppression orders limited what inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston was able to say about Wednesday's arrest, but he did reassure Hokianga residents that a killer was not walking among them.

Police were still establishing whether Ms Moka died where she was found or elsewhere, while every effort was being made to return her to her family as soon as possible.

"The news wasn't unexpected but they are very upset, as you would expect," he added.

The whanau had asked for privacy while they grieved and worked through the tangi process. Marae elders have placed a rahui over the area where the body was found.

Forty staff were continuing to work on the inquiry late last week. A number of properties had been searched, including in Rawene, in the hope of finding the missing property. Its disappearance did not fit the homicide inquiry, and there was no evidence of a burglary or forced entry.

Detective Senior Sergeant Johnston added that it had been very rewarding to be able to give something back to Ms Moka's family, while police were grateful for the help they had received from the Omanaia community and those who had attended the tangi at Te Piiti Marae.

- Northland Age

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