Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Anger over discharge for Maori King's son

Korotangi Paki, son of the Maori King Tuheitia, leaves the Auckland District Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Korotangi Paki, son of the Maori King Tuheitia, leaves the Auckland District Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The decision to grant the son of Maori King Tuheitia Paki a discharge without conviction on a number of charges has drawn anger.

Korotangi Paki, 19, had previously pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, theft and drink driving, but was not convicted after his defence successfully argued that would ruin his chances of succeeding to the throne.

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Judge Philippa Cunningham granted Mr Paki a conditional discharge without conviction in the Auckland District Court yesterday.

That has created a stir online, with Facebook pages calling for "justice" and changes made to King Tuheitia's Wikipedia page saying the judge had been "tricked".

In sentencing, Judge Cunningham said she was "driven to the conclusion" that Mr Paki would lose out on being a successor if convicted.

"There's only two sons and in my view it's important that the king at the appropriate time has the widest possible choice of a successor and it's important for Mr Paki, as one of those two sons, to have the potential to be a successor in time."

While his drink driving was moderately serious, she said, the direct and indirect consequences of a conviction were "out of all proportion" to the offence.

That logic did not wash with former Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels, who told the Herald the decision made a mockery of the judicial system.

Mr Samuels, a former Labour MP, said if a Maori youth in Tai Tokerau had committed the offences they would have gone to jail.

He hoped those unhappy with the decision would see it as an issue of status and not race.

"Forget about all these racial overtones. It's got nothing to do with race, but it's got something to do with status, that's all, and ego."

Mr Paki has also come under fire for posts on his now-disabled Facebook page, which have been published on Radio Live.

Next to one photo of a queue of mostly Asian people, Mr Paki wrote: "all these chingy eyed [expletive]".

- APNZ

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