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Michelle Hoffman-Tamm's daughter speaks out

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Weeks after her mum Michelle was killed, Monique Hoffman-Tamm talks to Daily Post reporter Katie Holland about her loss, her life and her struggle to go on.


Rotorua's Monique Hoffman-Tamm thought life couldn't get much worse.

Raped by her father as a child, she was also forced to survive on the streets as a teen.

Then, on November 7, her mother and best friend Michelle Hoffman-Tamm disappeared. The 51-year old's body was discovered on November 23 near Murupara and 44-year-old Rotorua woman Gwenda Leigh Sloane, aka Pluss, was this week charged with her murder.

"My heart started breaking when Mum didn't come home and it broke when I followed that body back from Murupara,'' Monique said. "Out of everything I had been through in my life that was the lowest point.''

The 27-year-old has been through more than most _ starting when her parents broke up when she was 5 or 6.

Monique said Michelle was admitted to a mental health facility with a drinking problem, leaving her and younger

brother Rhys in their father's custody.

At 14, she told authorities her father had been abusing her but she said she was called "manipulative'' and was sent home.

With nowhere to go and Michelle in a halfway home, Monique "took off'' and spent the next few years hitchhiking around the country, sleeping in cars and occasionally staying with friends. In her late teens she settled down, then

while pregnant with her first child her partner was killed in a truck crash.

"Mum helped me through that,'' she said.

"I had started making contact again with her to rebuild that relationship, I had nobody else.''

Monique said her breaking point came at 23 when suffering severe depression after a bout of pneumonia.

"I was ready to pick up the phone to ring a mate to pick up my kids and commit  [suicide] and instead I picked up the phone and called police.''

While speaking to police she reported that she was raped as a child by her father.

In 2010 Colin John Hoffman, her father, was found guilty of raping and sexually abusing Monique between the ages of 9 and 14 and and was jailed for 10 years.

At the time Monique took the unusual step of asking that her father be named in the media. It was a huge relief, she said, after years of bottling up the secret then reliving the horror during the trial _ although her mum was by her side throughout.

"After that I thought it's my time to start living. I thought that was the worst done, I will start afresh.''

And she had _ until the Wednesday afternoon Michelle left the home she shared with Inoi, her partner of 19 years, to visit a friend and disappeared. By Friday, Monique said she knew something was seriously wrong.

"She was meant to have the kids Friday night and she never ever let them down, no matter what.''

She said she's been "semi-numb'' ever since, putting on a happy front for her children, aged 7, 5 and 8 months.

"I go to bed every night and cry which sounds really stupid at 27. Nights are the worst because I am not busy.

It's when reality sinks in.''

She said she was doing all she could to protect her children, who Michelle adored, but admits they had been affected. Her 5-year-old is angry, she said, and wants to kill the "bad person'' who took away his "Manny'' while her

7-year-old is in denial and hasn't once cried.

"I'm still in massive denial myself, I know it's real, I've seen Mum, I've kissed her, I've held her, I've done all that ...''

Monique was in court when Sloane appeared  to face the murder charge and will be at her next appearance on Wednesday.

"I am going to be there every single time, she is going to look at my face.''

Michelle's ashes will be buried alongside her parents and brother Grant, who committed suicide in 1997. Meanwhile, Monique has added to her tattoo collection _ adding the name of the loving, generous, non-judgmental mother she will always remember. It joins the names of Grant and Misty, Michelle's first child who died at birth.

"They're an everyday reminder that I haven't really lost them, they're still there with me.''

Monique wanted to thank the Rotorua police who had gone "above and beyond in so many ways'' and also had a message for readers.

"Cherish your family, really cherish your family. Put the bull***t aside,'' she said. "People need to hold on to everything they have because when they're gone they're gone.''

 

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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