Kahui silence disgusting, says Sharples [audio report]

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples last night launched a blistering attack on the family of Chris and Cru Kahui, saying he was disgusted the whanau had reneged on their promise to help police with the investigation into the twins' killing.

Dr Sharples slammed the family's behaviour in the wake of the killings as "disgusting", claiming their actions were causing suffering to all Maori.

He said he sent a group of elders to the family. "We found a very dysfunctional group of young people who were in the first place not listening to the old people and who were arguing with themselves," he told National Radio.

"They don't have their Maoritanga, there was no respect for the elders at all, they were arguing...yelling at each other and some saying 'go forward' (to see police) and others saying 'don't go forward' then they kicked my group out but they stayed anyway.

"One group was in a hurry to get to off to the pub and have a drink and another group were so angry that they were packing to go back up north where they live. It was a really, really terrible thing."

He said it was not until he had witnessed their behaviour that he realised what had earlier been described as Once Were Warriors by Prime Minister Helen Clark existed in New Zealand.

She joined the chorus of criticism against the Kahui family, saying it is "absolutely shocking" to hide behind a tangi to delay fronting about how the twins died.

She said the Cabinet yesterday discussed the cross-party meeting on family violence Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia had called for in the wake of the deaths of the twins.

"The Government has a ministerial taskforce on family violence which is due to report in July," Helen Clark said. "What we plan to do is to [then] bring in the range of parties to get a full briefing on what the taskforce is saying, what it recommends.

"I think everyone is shocked and revolted by what happened to the two small twin babies in Auckland.

"It's completely unacceptable behaviour which clearly will lead to manslaughter or murder charges.

"Of course there have been other very, very tragic events involving the death and battery of small children."

Many of them had been followed by various action: the setting up of new services and "in particular regionally focused services".

"There are a lot of things happening which are working, but from time to time you get a case like this which looks like Once Were Warriors played out again and results in the death of small children and it focuses everyone's mind again on 'is this the best we can do?'" the Prime Minister said.

She was asked if this was a "Maori issue", as some have claimed.

"Domestic violence, child abuse and neglect and battery exist in all our communities.

"What I've seen in the Maori community in recent days is Maori leaders like the Minister of Maori Affairs stepping forward and saying, 'Look, we're going to own this problem in our community', and I think that's very, very positive."

Dr Sharples said the Maori Party was eager to join the multi-party talks.

"There's a lot of people working out there doing a lot of good things to help families in trouble," he said.

"But maybe we need a sort of Lone Ranger, in between the families and the official departments, to look at the possibility of helping."

- HERALD STAFF, NZPA

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