He was named in honour of the brave fight he showed after a tough start to life.
Seven years on, Lisa and Roimata Minhinnick are asking their little boy to call on those reserves of strength again and, they hope, help lead the way for 476,000 Kiwi kids eligible for their first Covid-19 vaccination from Monday.
Otaua, who was born weighing less than 1800 grams after he stopped feeding properly in the womb, is a wee bit nervous about getting vaccinated, mum Lisa Minhinnick told the Herald.
But their youngest child's face lights up when his parents talk about the friends he couldn't see for the months of lockdown, and the chance to pull on his Waiuku Rugby Club jersey again. His first season on the field came to an abrupt end when last year's Delta outbreak forced everyone back into their household bubbles.
They want him to be able to safely again enjoy the life he had before the pandemic - attending school fulltime, playing sport, going to the movies and hanging out with friends.
"We had to sit down and talk to him about the decision [to be vaccinated].
"He had to be part of that process, making decisions for his own body and understanding that the immune system isn't going to fight off that virus, that we all need some help to fight it off, because it's brand new."
They chose vaccination because they trust the advice being given by experts, Minhinnick said.
"That was the first thing that helped us cross that line, and make that decision, that we were listening to the right people, giving us the right, expert advice."
She had encouraged others to do the same during the over-12s vaccination roll-out, and would continue now 5 to 11-year-olds are also able to be protected.
"The message I've been taking to our whānau is that we just need to trust the experts, more so than social media. And our iwi (Ngāti Te Ata) has put in the hard yards and made decisions based on facts, and we just need to trust that those decisions have been made for our benefit.
"Our children can't make those decisions for themselves - we need to make the right decisions for them."
The youngest person to die with Covid-19 in New Zealand was a Māori boy aged under 10, and he had been part of the conversations she had had with other adults.
"Without scaremongering, I have talked about the little boy who passed away before Christmas. And how quickly transmission can go through the tamariki.
"We only have to look abroad to see what's happening everywhere else."
Minhinnick and her husband were among those, including her mother-in-law Dame Nganeko Kaihau Minhinnick, who set up Te Kopu, an education organisation servicing Ngāti Te Ata.
The organisation and iwi were involved in vaccination events for the over-12s roll-out, and plans were in progress for child-friendly repeats, she said.
"They've been through so much, our tamariki in Auckland, so what we're wanting to do is celebrate what they've done and what they've been through, to alleviate some of those anxieties before they go back to school and help them to agree with their parents on this decision to be vaccinated."
When Otaua gets that first jab it will take place in the company of his parents and four older siblings, she said.
"We want everyone to come along and for him to know that we all made that decision for him, we're all supporting him and we all want him to have a healthy and thriving future."
A positive experience would also help her son be a role model for other kids nervous about getting vaccinated, she said.
She had already overheard him talking to his cousins about how vaccination would protect them from the virus.
Soon, he would be able to take that message beyond his whānau.
"His name is representative of bravery, and I'm sure he'll portray that, when he passes on the message to his friends to get the vaccination."