Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

School rallies to support boy's family

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A "lovely boy'' who nearly died when a dressing gown cord accidently became tangled around his neck remains in an induced coma, but has every chance of recovering, his school principal says.

Manaaki Ropiha, 8, was standing on a box while playing at the clothesline behind his Panmure home yesterday morning when he slipped and became entangled in the cord, which was pegged up to dry next to the dressing gown.

"It was just a really horrible - really horrible - unfortunate accident,'' said Tamaki Primary School principal Corinne Hansell.

"I conversed with Manaaki's mum quite fully this morning and she told me she was in the back yard tidying up some things and she told Manaaki to get away from the clothesline and to stop playing with the dressing gown belt on the clothesline,'' she said.

"Myself, years ago I lost a cousin's daughter who was playing with a skipping rope on her deck and she fell over the other side with it wrapped around her neck and she died. So I know how accidents do happen for children sometimes.''

Ms Hansell visited Manaaki and his mum, Kara Ropiha, at Middlemore Hospital this morning.

"I was there when the doctors were testing him and he was just showing stable signs so there's every hope that he will recover.''

He remained in an induced coma, and it would probably be a few days before it is known how he has been affected.

A Middlemore Hospital spokeswoman said Manaaki remained in a critical condition.
The school community had rallied around his family, Ms Hansell said.

"The school is a very close unit - we are very much a family. One of our big values is whanaungatanga - building family relationships - and we have everybody at the doorstep just waiting to see what they can do to help.''

She said Manaaki was "one of our babies''.

"He's a lovely, lovely boy and a lovely learner. I cannot even begin to describe how we felt this morning. Everybody's just hanging out waiting for the next bit of news.''

The school was offering support to its students, she said.

On the school website, a grinning Manaaki names Bruno Mars as his favourite musician and Subway as his favourite food. He said he wants to join the Army when he grows up.

Senior Sergeant Junior Abraham told the Herald on Sunday Manaaki had somehow wrapped a dressing gown tie around his neck.

He was unable to call for help, and his mother was unaware of what happened until she turned around.

His distraught mother pulled him from the line and rushed him to a neighbour who performed CPR until emergency services arrived.

Neighbour Charlotte Liddicoat worked on him until the ambulance arrived. "It was a horrible, horrible accident,'' she said.

Ms Liddicoat knows Manaaki well, both as a teacher aide at Tamaki Primary School and as a neighbour of five years.

"He is a lovely boy, I can't imagine what his mother is going through,'' she said.

Victim Support had visited Manaaki's house to offer help to other children who had witnessed the ordeal.

"It was really awful and it was horrible for these little ones to see their friend like that.''

- APNZ

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