Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland has found that a 15-year-old boy who died near his home at Moerewa on April 5, 2009, took his own life. He also found that Marvin Peihopa had had a secure and loving home, where his family believed him to be happy. There was no suicide note or any indication that he had been unhappy, apart from the fact that he had been bullied because of his femininity.
Mr Shortland suppressed some of the evidence given at the inquest, but supported publication of details regarding the teenager's being bullied at school because of his "difference as perceived by other people of his age."
The inquest heard that Peihopa had lived with whanau on a dairy farm on Ngapipito Road for about six months prior to his death. He was living with his grand-aunt Kiti Honetana (Nanny Kiti) and her partner Abraham Bristow Senior, who also cared for a number of moko, nieces and nephews, and other extended whanau.
On April 4, 2009 Marvin and other younger whanau members were told that they should not attend a housewarming party that was held in the neighbourhood. Late that night he was invited to the party, however. He returned home between 6am and 7am, and was "reasonably intoxicated," to the point of being unable to help get the cows in for milking.
He was sent back to the house between 8.30am and 9am to have a sleep, but was not there when the family returned at about 10am. His body was found on the farm a short time later.
"The family could not pinpoint any reason why Marvin took the steps he did. He was intoxicated and sent home because it was unsafe for him to continue working, he was tired and he needed to sleep. They thought this was the best action in the circumstances," Mr Shortland said.
"The police carried out a thorough examination of the scene and were satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances."
There were no drugs or illicit substances within Marvin's system, but he had 112 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (approaching double the legal limit for an adult driver).
Ms Honetana told the inquest, however, that while Marvin appeared "reasonably happy in all the circumstances" he had been bullied by his peers because of a perception that he was very feminine. That had occurred at Manurewa High School and Bay of Islands College.
"It was a concern highlighted by his caring whanau. They provided good support for him, and it was not an issue within their own whanau," Mr Shortland said.
Despite the bullying Marvin seemed to cope with the support and love of his whanau, and he presented as reasonably happy and secure in his home environment.
"The evidence only points to the fact that he had underlying issues, including the bullying and teasing, but there was no outward sign of any suicide attempts whilst he was in the care of Kiti and Abraham, nor was there any discussion with other friends and extended whanau about his trials and tribulations," he added.
"For all intents and purposes for the extended whanau, Marvin's death came out of the equivalent of 'left field'. Other than those factors there is no other evidence this decision can identify to indicate intentions of self-harm."