Moko's mother speaks out about son's death

The mother of a 3-year-old boy who died after torturous beatings at the hands of his caregivers has spoken out about her son's death.

Moko Rangitoheriri's mother Nicola Dally-Paki said on TV3's Story that her daughter told her of the abuse her son had suffered.

"She told me Moko had been locked in the bathroom for two weeks.

"She'd try and stay home from school to try and feed my son because they were starving him."

Her 7-year-old daughter had pleaded with 26-year-old Tania Shailer and 43-year-old David William Haerewa to stop abusing Moko.

"[She said] 'he wasn't talking, Mummy. I tried to tell David, and I told Tania he's not talking and he needs to see the doctor, and they wouldn't listen Mummy'."

Moko died after being kicked, slapped, stomped on and bitten by Shailer and Haerewa, who had been entrusted to care for him.

The pair had originally been charged with murder but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of manslaughter.

Assaults escalated

Moko and his sister were left in the care of the couple on June 12 for what was expected to be a short period of time.

During the two months Moko was living with Haerewa and Shailer, their animosity towards the toddler grew.

Haerewa told police he "didn't like [Moko's] ways" and that he was "angry at him for taking us for granted".

The couple began assaulting the toddler, with the severity of the assaults escalating.
Haerewa admitted to police that he continually assaulted Moko, especially during the four days prior to his death.

The main injuries that caused the toddler's death were inflicted by Shailer, who forcefully stomped on his abdomen and stomach. The summary states it is unclear when she did this, but evidence suggests it was on August 6.

By August 9 Moko could barely walk, had major swelling to the face, kept falling to the ground and was defecating and vomiting frequently.

Moko suffered lacerations and haemorrhaging deep within his abdomen and, coupled with older bruising and damage, a rupture to his bowel.

On August 10 Shailer phoned 111 saying Moko had fallen from a wood pile the day before, sustaining severe bruising. She told the operator that he had been fine earlier in the day but was now "really cold, unconscious, not breathing properly and that his stomach was really hard".

Upon arriving at Shailer and Haerewa's address and seeing the visual injuries and condition of Moko, paramedic staff rushed him straight to the emergency department at Taupo Hospital. By 10pm that evening Moko's ordeal had ended - he was pronounced dead.

Shailer and Haerewa were remanded in custody and will next appear for sentencing on June 27.

Warning signs

Ms Dally-Paki said she first met the then-16-year-old Shailer at a Kohanga Reo. "Tania was a caregiver. I didn't know about them being mentally unstable."

She said Shailer was in regular contact until two weeks before Moko's death.

"Her phone was off and I couldn't call to talk to him. Those are signs that I should've picked up on."

She still hasn't read the full report on the trauma her son endured. Her daughter has told her about her efforts to try and help Moko.

"She said he was locked in the bathroom for two weeks, and that she tried to use toilet paper to wipe his bleeding eyes. She tried everything to save him. She was told to tell the police that she had hurt Moko, that's why my daughter put her hand up and said she'd done it."

Ms Dally-Paki's daughter was not spared from the attacks.

"She said [Shailer] used to punch [her] in the face when she'd smile, and drag her by the hair to get to school."

"They brainwashed her, they psychologically screwed her, and made her partake in the violence."

CYF response

Ms Dally-Paki said she "absolutely" felt let down by Child, Youth and Family after Shailer told the agency that she had six children in her care.

"They could've helped my son, he'd still be alive. They knew something was up, why didn't they help? They had more knowledge than I did."

She believes Shailer and Haerewa should've been charged with "more than manslaughter".

Child, Youth and Family said they had "every sympathy" for Ms Dally-Paki, but they were not made aware of any "critical concerns" about Moko.

"It is important to note that Child, Youth and Family became involved days before Moko was killed because Tania Shailer ... had reported she was concerned that Moko and his siblings would not be safe with their mother, who was planning to collect them from Tania's care.

"As we have said, had there been any concerns from the family about Moko's care by Tania and David Haerewa, Child, Youth and Family would have visited the home promptly to check on him."

Child, Youth and Family said they did not know that Haerewa was living with Shailer.
A nationwide series of "March for Moko" marches against violence are being planned.

- NZ Herald

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