A Hawkes Bay man says his repeated calls for help for the depressed mother of his six young children were ignored and she did not get the psychiatric care needed to save her life.

Ann-Maree Hodges, 39, died a fortnight ago. There were no suspicious circumstances.

The Hawkes Bay District Health Board defends the level of care provided to Ms Hodges, but Trevor Takerei, her partner of 17 years and father of their six children aged from 18 months to 13, said he tried repeatedly to get help for her.

"I have been singing out to mental health services since October last year, right up until the week before her death," he said.


"In October last year, she overdosed on pills and they had her in the unit, but they let her out too early.

"I asked the mental health services if they would take her, and they said she wasn't in a serious enough state of mind to be admitted as a patient.

"They sent her to Women's Refuge to monitor her taking her meds and they let her out in four days.

"That's a place for domestic violence, not psychiatric patients. They kept saying, 'We have assessed her, we have assessed her. She's not going to harm herself'."

A DHB spokeswoman defended the care and said that while the matter was before the coroner, public comment could not be made.

"The public, however, should be assured that the mental health service was working closely with the patient in relation to her care."

However, Mr Takerei claimed a DHB representative phoned him admitting flaws in his partner's treatment.

Mr Takerei said the health board suggested the family seek help from Child, Youth and Family.

"I kept ringing and saying it was hard to cope myself, and they said to ring CYF up, and what? Take the kids off her and put her in more of a depression?

"They were just passing the buck on to all of these agencies, and then they had the cheek to ring up and say now that they know they were in the wrong."

CYF central regional director Tania Harris said the children's care was never an issue.

"All six children are safe in the care of their father and we are working with the family to ensure they have the support they need," she said.

Mr Takerei said he "used to muck around with the gangs" but he turned his life around for Ms Hodges.

They were to marry in September to mark their 18th anniversary.

After Ms Hodges' mother died five years ago, she "slowly stopped talking ... she was shutting her friends out, and family".

"Between my two babies, we had a miscarriage and that's when she really started going downhill."

In the months before her death, Mr Takerei quit his truck-driving job to take up contracting work closer to home.

"I have got to be strong for my kids; they are my number ones now. I have gone from being a father/provider to being a father/mother/provider."

* National Depression Helpline - 0800-111-757
* The Lowdown website - text 5626
* Samaritans - 0800-726-666
* Lifeline New Zealand - 0800- 543-354
* Youthline - 0800-376-633 or text 234.