The social worker named in the horrific case of abused toddler Moko Rangitoheriri has spoken out for the first time, saying the woman accused of killing created a web of lies to deceive those trying to help.

The 3-year-old Taupo boy died in August 2015 after being kicked, slapped, stomped on and bitten over several weeks by Tania Shailer and David Haerewa, who had been entrusted to care for him.

The pair had originally been charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a downgrade which has sparked outrage.

Trina Marama, the Maori Women's Refuge social worker named in the case, spoke to Maori TV's Native Affairs tonight.


She alleged a web of lies was created to hide the abuse that led to Moko's death last August.

"People in general are looking for someone to blame for Moko and I am it. I am it," she told Native Affairs.

She has worked for refuge and as a child welfare advocate for 12 years and ran a family violence programme within the refuge for seven years.

Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri. Photo / Supplied
Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri. Photo / Supplied

Ms Marama was working for the refuge which helped Shailer find a home in Taupo to escape a violent past in 2013 and continued to work with her in 2015.

In June last year, Shailer enrolled Moko's 7-year-old sister in Ms Marama's programme.

Ms Marama said she'd never met Moko, but his sister was always well dressed, with a home made lunch.

"There were no signs or alarming signs that Moko was being abused. If I could have helped Moko I would have in a heartbeat. I would have picked him up and taken him home."

In July last year, she raised concerns with Child Youth and Family that Shailer wasn't coping with her own four children as well as caring for Moko and his sister.

"I felt I had left it in the right hands. I had taken it to CYF," she said.

But after speaking with Shailer, CYF focused its enquiries on Moko's mother, Nicola Dally-Paki.

"She was a very good actress," Ms Marama said of Shailer.

"To do these kinds of things to Moko that we know about now, and then to go out in the community and portray herself as being a loving, caring, nurturing mummy, auntie... I believe she painted this picture for many in Taupo."

CYF social workers, who dealt with Moko's care, have not been publicly named.

Another key piece of information also unknown to CYF and Ms Marama was that David Haerewa - who has also pleaded guilty to manslaughter over the death of Moko - was living in the home with Shailer and the six children, including Moko and his sister.

"Tania never told me about a man at her home."

To Moko's mother, Ms Dally-Paki, she expressed sympathy.

"I am so sorry that that has happened to her. As for the agencies, I can't help something I don't know."

Meanwhile, the Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a petition to outlaw plea bargain negotiations. A plea bargain is when a charge is downgraded if a defendant makes a guilty plea.

Trust founder Garth McVicar said the petition was to ensure a review of "any and all legislation that encouraged Crown solicitors to enter into plea bargains to severely reduce charges and in some cases dispose of cases.

"While the plea bargain debacle that allowed Moko's murder to be downgraded to manslaughter seems to be an unintended consequence of changes designed to reduce cost pressures on Crown Law, it is none the less totally unacceptable."