Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Strangled boy back to school

Family thank lucky stars for support.

Manaaki Ropiha with mother Kara at home in Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
Manaaki Ropiha with mother Kara at home in Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

A boy who nearly died in a freak clothesline accident has been discharged from hospital and will go back to school tomorrow.

Eight-year-old Manaaki Ropiha's family have been reunited by the accident and an entire community swung in to support them after the Herald on Sunday reported the accident.

Two weeks ago, Manaaki accidentally strangled himself with the tie of a dressing gown pegged to a clothesline.

But after his discharge on Wednesday, a smiling Manaaki said he was "feeling good" and would be back at Tamaki Primary School for a half-day tomorrow.

"I still had a good holiday but it was in hospital," he said.

His father, Reon Witute, had not seen his son for a year after his marriage to Manaaki's mum, Kara Ropiha, broke down. But he said the accident had renewed his relationship with his son and his daughter, Aroha, 7. "It has been great to spend time with them," he said.

"I haven't left Manaaki's side since it happened and that has been really nice."

Manaaki, a budding rugby player, is not allowed to play any contact sport for now but said he was looking forward to "seeing my friends at school and doing some art".

His mother Kara said the family had been overwhelmed with support from their community and church - especially after the house was burgled while they were in hospital.

Thieves stole a lawnmower, money and the children's bikes as Manaaki lay in a coma.

This week, charity group Bluelight donated $300 cash and replaced the stolen lawnmower. And BNZ paid release fees to the pound after the family dog escaped while the family were in hospital.

"We are very grateful. I feel like the hand of God has been on my son this whole time," Kara Ropiha said.

When Manaaki came home, neighbour Charlotte Liddicoat was one of his first visitors. Liddicoat performed lifesaving CPR after the accident.

Liddicoat downplayed her hero status and said her instincts took over when a distraught Ropiha rushed over with her unconscious son.

"I was in a bit of a panic but the ambulance person on the phone just talked me through it," she said. Reon Witute said Liddicoat deserved an award for saving his son, who was in an induced coma for a week after the accident.

"She kept him going until help got here. Things could have been a lot different."

- Herald on Sunday

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