Only about 25 per cent of domestic violence cases in New Zealand are reported. Sadly Chozyn Koroheke's abuse was not one of them and by the time police were finally called to her Auckland home it was too late - she'd been shot at point-blank range by her partner. The Herald looks at the violence in our homes and questions why the issue is falling back into the shadows?

A mother asks her daughter: "Are you afraid of him?"

She replies: "Isn't it obvious?"

Chozyn Koroheke's fear culminated when her partner, Turiarangi Tai, shot her in the gut with a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun.

Her wound was catastrophic.

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She bled out and died in the back of an ambulance.

Today, a jury in the High Court at Auckland found Tai guilty of murder.

Mum-of-two Chozyn Koroheke was killed on April 4 last year. Photo / Supplied
Mum-of-two Chozyn Koroheke was killed on April 4 last year. Photo / Supplied

But Koroheke's death, or at least serious injury, seemed likely to those who saw the scars of her on-and-off relationship with Tai.

"Black eyes, cuts to the face, and at one point her limping," Koroheke's mother Nadine told the court, as Tai sat in the dock charged with her daughter's murder.

Koroheke, a mother-of-two and only 22 years old when she died, had also previously been hit in the head with a rock and stabbed in the thigh, the court heard.

Other indicators of an extremely fractured, violent relationship between the pair included a threatening text message over a debt which read, "that's four bullets if you don't pay up", photos of Tai seemingly posing with a pistol, and a jealousy over Koroheke seeing other men.

"I struggled with her choices that she made," Nadine said.

She was referring to the types of men her daughter dated, including the father of her grandchildren.

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"Chozyn was stubborn and strong-headed, so what I had to say didn't really matter."

Tai was "crazy", Nadine said.

Turiarangi Tai, pictured in the dock during an earlier court appearance, after being charged with murder. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Turiarangi Tai, pictured in the dock during an earlier court appearance, after being charged with murder. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Koroheke had first met Tai through a mutual friend on social media about five months before her death.

"We can stop this right now," Nadine recalled telling her daughter in hospital after another beating from Tai.

However, when Tai took the stand in his own defence he denied the pair had a violent relationship. He denied he hit his girlfriend over the head with a rock. And he denied stabbing her.

Gunned down one April night

Police at the scene on Pakuranga Rd after Chozyn Koroheke was fatally shot. Photo / Greg Bowker
Police at the scene on Pakuranga Rd after Chozyn Koroheke was fatally shot. Photo / Greg Bowker

It was a cool, dark, rainy evening on April 4 last year in Auckland.

At a Pakuranga Heights home, where Koroheke and Tai lived with Koroheke's brother Nacyn Koroheke and partner Samantha Douglas, an argument ensued.

"It appeared Tai was accusing Chozyn with hanging around guys the night before," Crown prosecutor Mark Williams said during his opening address on day one of the trial.

Tai then came into the house with a gun, showing it to Koroheke's brother, Williams said.

It was unloaded.

Tai then seemingly left in a huff - he packed his bags and drove away in a white car.

As he left he yelled at Koroheke to bring him a smoke and some cash for gas, but she replied: "You haven't talked to me all day, why would I help you?"

The pair went their separate ways and Koroheke returned to a bedroom and sat with her brother and Douglas - all assuming Tai had left.

But he hadn't.

Turiarangi Tai, who said he wasn't familiar with guns, is seen here posing with a pistol two months before Chozyn Koroheke was killed. Photos / Crown exhibit
Turiarangi Tai, who said he wasn't familiar with guns, is seen here posing with a pistol two months before Chozyn Koroheke was killed. Photos / Crown exhibit

Before reaching the end of the driveway Tai stopped and returned to the house.

Then Koroheke yelled: "He is coming in, he has got a shotgun!"

Tai found Koroheke attempting to hide in her brother's bedroom, Williams said.

First he aimed at her head.

Then, the court heard, with one hand on the barrel and "an angry look on his face and swearing", Tai lowered the long hunting gun and pulled the trigger.

In less that a second the shrapnel tore through Koroheke from a distance of no more than 50cm, Williams said.

Turiarangi Tai's mugshot, released by police after he went on the run. Photo / NZ Police
Turiarangi Tai's mugshot, released by police after he went on the run. Photo / NZ Police

However, Tai had a very different story to tell when he took the stand in his own defence.

"I've gripped the shotgun and my left hand around the barrel and my finger close to the trigger and I've gone and pointed it at [Nacyn]," Tai said.

The gun, he said, was also in what he called the "s" mode, which Tai believed was the safety.

"I pointed it at Nacyn and as I pointed it at Nacyn, there was a bang and it went off," Tai said.

When questioned by the second member of his counsel, Dr Richard Keam, Tai told the court he couldn't remember pulling the trigger.

The gun was dropped to the floor and Nacyn quickly called 111.

"I was shocked, we were all shocked," Tai said.

He tried to find Koroheke's wound to stop the bleeding, he said.

"Stay with me!" Tai could be heard screaming in the background of Nacyn's 111 call.

Koroheke could also be heard moaning as she slipped in and out of consciousness.

"Stay awake ... Everything's going to be all right!" Tai yelled.

The 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun which Turiarangi Tai fired.Photos / Crown exhibit
The 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun which Turiarangi Tai fired.Photos / Crown exhibit

Also making a 111 call was Douglas.

"Someone's been shot," she cried to the operator.

"Is she awake?" the operator replied.

"I don't know, I don't know, should I go back? Oh my God," Douglas said.

"Is there any serious bleeding?" continued the operator.

"I couldn't see," Douglas said.

"Ma'am, I don't want you to go back over there if the offender's still there," the operator warned Douglas.

"My partner took the gun off them," replied Douglas.

A few minutes later St John Paramedic Peter Hoskin, one of the initial first responders, arrived at the scene.

He told the court he saw a man driving away from the house in a white Toyota.

There was no dispute the driver was Tai and he told the court he had first climbed on to the roof of the house to see how far away the ambulance was.

When he saw the paramedics arrive he left.

"I knew she was in safe hands, there was nothing more I could do," he said.

Hoskin tried to save and revive Koroheke for about 50 minutes but the wound was too severe.

Turiarangi Tai on day one of his High Court murder trial. Photo / Greg Bowker
Turiarangi Tai on day one of his High Court murder trial. Photo / Greg Bowker

Tai went on the run for nearly two weeks.

A 25-year-old woman, who's identity is suppressed, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder for allegedly helping Tai evade police following the shooting.

She was found not guilty.

Tai eventually turned himself in and was charged with Koroheke's murder.

He pleaded not guilty.

However, on day one of his trial he had pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm.

"Chozyn, a daughter, a sister and mother of two children was in a relationship with Mr Tai," Williams said.

"It was a relatively short relationship, but one characterised by violence at his hands.

"That violence manifested itself in fatal consequences."

Tai's counsel Peter Kaye told the jury: "We all know we are here because a 22-year-old woman has died, we can never bring her back.

"There's no argument about who had the gun, there's no argument about it discharging - there's no issue - there's no argument it caused death."

Domestic violence a constant in New Zealand homes

Women's Refuge CRO Dr Ang Jury says domestic violence is a constant issue in New Zealand. Photo / Women's Refuge
Women's Refuge CRO Dr Ang Jury says domestic violence is a constant issue in New Zealand. Photo / Women's Refuge

It is estimated that responding to family violence accounts for 41 per cent of a frontline police officer's time.

However, the Ministry of Justice victims of crimes survey estimates only about 25 per cent of domestic violence is reported.

Police data reveals the total number of family violence investigations during the past decade has also risen rapidly - a rise Dr Ang Jury, the chief executive of Women's Refuge, says is far outgrowing what could be attributed to just population increases.

Total number of family violence police investigations

• 2007 - 69,729
• 2008 - 73,280
• 2009 - 79,257
• 2010 - 86,764
• 2011 - 89,884
• 2012 - 87,639
• 2013 - 95,061
• 2014 - 101,955
• 2015 - 110,126
• 2016 - 118,910

Recorded assaults against only women and where the relationship between the victim and the offender was identified further shed light on domestic violence trends.

In 2014 (from July to December only) there were 5068 cases where the relationship was identified between a women and her attacker.

For all of 2015 that number was 9933 and in 2016 it was recorded at 9637.

Of those identified in 2014, 55 per cent of offenders were the partner or ex-partner or boy/girlfriend or ex-boy/girlfriend of the woman.

It was 55 per cent again in 2015 and 2016.

Only about 8 per cent of all assaults against women are conducted by strangers, according to the police figures, while 77 per cent of all assaults against women come at the hands of family.

Jury said the statistics only paint part of the picture.

Unfortunately unless the victim is willing to make a complaint, even if offered assistance, "nothing much happens", she said.

Philosophically, Jury believed it should be a woman's choice to come forward with a complaint - but choice, she said, is always relative.

There are any number of reasons why a victim may not report domestic violence, she said, such as shame, still loving their partner, or thinking they can improve the situation.

Those that do come forward will, two thirds of the time, see their case result in a conviction, District Court data shows.

However, the number of cases prosecuting men for assaulting women has dropped from more than 8000 in 2009 to just over 6000 in 2016.

Total number of charges prosecuted for male assaults female offences

• 2007 - 7106 with a 57 per cent conviction rate
• 2008 - 7809 - 62 per cent
• 2009 - 8004 - 61 per cent
• 2010 - 7273 - 63 per cent
• 2011 - 6518 - 66 per cent
• 2012 - 6370 - 65 per cent
• 2013 - 5705 - 66 per cent
• 2014 - 5048 - 68 per cent
• 2015 - 5564 - 66 per cent
• 2016 - 6086 - 66 per cent

Jury said she didn't think domestic violence was a "growing issue" in New Zealand but that from her view the violence was becoming more extreme and unpredictable.

"It's a constant in our society. It doesn't appear to be something that we are reducing.

"I'm very worried that it is no longer the 'flavour of the month social issue'."

She said the current Government had rightly prioritised housing and child poverty but a large contributor to homelessness, mental health issues and child poverty was domestic violence.

"We are really, really bad in this country at gathering data," she said, referencing how violence statistics are now collated by authorities.

She said victims don't have to wait for their situation to be at "absolute crisis".

Often a victim may underestimate the danger they're in, she added.

"Don't underestimate the risk. If someone is threatening to kill someone, choke someone, take it seriously," she said.

"Families can ring, relatives, friends - call up, private message us on Facebook, send an email."

With some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world the estimated cost to the country is between $4.1 and $7 billion annually.

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don't stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

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