Mum speaks after son's tragic shooting

By Andy Chapman of the Gisborne Herald

Patrick Brass, shot dead in a hunting accident. Photo / Supplied
Patrick Brass, shot dead in a hunting accident. Photo / Supplied

The mother of the 10-year-old shot dead in an accident at the East Cape three weeks ago, for the first time since his passing sat face-to-face this week with her brother - the man who was looking after the boy on the day he died.

With a "heavy heart" and "lots of anger", Honey Brass had a heart-to-heart with her brother, owner of the gun, who took young Patrick Brass to work on remote Te Kumi sheep station on the East Cape with his cousin during the school holidays.

The circumstances around the shooting of Gisborne schoolboy Patrick are still under investigation. He was with his cousin at the time. His uncle was away working on the station.

"I needed to reassure my brother that I don't hate him for what happened," says Honey.

"Patrick loved his uncle, and his uncle loved him. I had to let him know that I'm there for him. There was anger... there still is. But I forgive him.

"I pray for my brother every day. And Patrick has given me the strength to forgive. He's in his urn at my grandparents' home and I go to talk to him two, maybe three times a day. He's protecting my heart.

"When I get angry, he tells me there is no room for hatred... you have to forgive."

Patrick's grieving mother collected his death certificate yesterday and was to meet with police in Gisborne today for an update on investigations surrounding the shooting.

She says she has "struggled to cope" with being with her other children in the aftermath of the incident. They are staying with her parents in Gisborne for now, as she comes to terms with the loss of her son.

She was at her parents' house when she first heard news of his death.

Her brother rang Honey's mother's home on Tuesday night - three weeks ago, shortly after the fatal incident.

"He just told Mum that Patrick was dead.

"We were planning to move to Hastings the next day and I had all my stuff at Mum's house. We were staying there so that Patrick could spend some time with his cousin before we moved. They were best friends and they were so excited about the trip up the Coast."

After an initial scream, there was shock, says Honey.

"Until a police officer confirmed it to me at the scene, I think I still had hope in my heart.

"I just didn't want to believe it.

"From there on I just went into zombie mode."

The days following the incident were extremely difficult, she says.

"The media storm wasn't easy for me or my family.

"I saw him on the news in a long white tent and it just tore me up inside.

"Then we had reporters from national papers pestering my family. My grandmother couldn't

do anything, because people were trying to ring her... and all this was going on before he was even brought home.

"I understand that people have a job to do but there should be some sort of 'stand off' period for grieving families. Surely the facts are enough in the first few days," she says.

"What happens is that the reporters end up talking to people who don't know what happened themselves. They just go on hearsay. That's not on."

Classmates at Gisborne's Kaiti School gave Patrick the perfect send-off last week, says Honey.

"His photograph was on a big projector screen and the school came out and performed the most powerful haka. I can't thank them enough.

"I also need to thank my family for being there and giving me strength. My parents and grandparents Helena and Patrick (Snr) Raukawa have been rocks for me in the past three weeks. Patrick was raised with them for three years. He was always with them and loved them to bits.

"Also, I want to say a huge thanks to the Gisborne community for their support. We have been given pre-loved items and people have really shown so much love to us. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart."

Something that gives her comfort in the "tough, lonely times" is her last words to Patrick before he left Gisborne for Te Kumi Station three weeks ago.

"I told him I loved him," says Honey.

"The advice I would give is never, ever waste an opportunity to let someone precious to you know that you love them because you never know what's around the corner."

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