Kirsty Johnston is an investigative reporter at the New Zealand Herald.

Auckland local board candidate who stole dead babies' identities won't stand

Savea Peseta Al Harrington Lavea was convicted along with his younger brother Romney Lavea of stealing the identities of seven dead children in 2008. Photo / Facebook
Savea Peseta Al Harrington Lavea was convicted along with his younger brother Romney Lavea of stealing the identities of seven dead children in 2008. Photo / Facebook

An Auckland local board candidate who it was revealed today stole dead babies' identities has announced he will not stand.

Savea Peseta Al Harrington Lavea said: "I made a mistake 20 years ago and have paid for it. I have worked hard for my community and will continue to do so in the future. For the sake of Auckland Future and my fellow candidates I have decided not to contest the Whau Local Board seat in the Council elections.

"I will not be making any further comment."

Auckland Future Coordinator Sue Wood said she thanked Lavea for the consideration he had shown to the Auckland Future team.

Lavea and his brother admitted seven charges of forgery and another seven of using a forged document in 2008, relating to offences that stretched back to the late 1990s.

Lavea, then a community adviser in Papatoetoe, was sentenced to six months' home detention and ordered to pay $5000 for reparation for emotional harm.

When contacted by the Herald on Sunday, Lavea yesterday initially confirmed he was standing in the elections.

But when asked if he was the same person convicted of stealing a dead child's identity he said: "Ah no, no I don't think so. What are you talking about?" He then hung up.

A man answering the phone in later calls said he was not Lavea.

Auckland Future is running 40 candidates across the city including former rugby league legend Graham Lowe.

Wood said the group knew of Lavea's crime and accepted him anyway.

Wood said Lavea declared his conviction and a selection panel agreed he had reformed and was worthy of nomination.

"It was considered that given the number of years that have moved on and the extent to which he has been very heavily engaged in the community, and the scale of the offending 20 years ago, we weighed up and decided that that was behind him."

Wood said Lavea was heavily involved with Auckland's Pacific Island community and had made a huge contribution to that community.

- NZ Herald

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