WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual abuse against children. Please take care.

The trial for a senior Ratana Church Minister for a raft of sexual abuse charges against young boys has ended suddenly after he changed his plea and admitted all of the offending.

Daniel Brass Raharaha Nehemia - also known as Brass Boyboy Nehemia and Brass Boyboy Raharaha - went on trial this week in the Auckland District Court on nine charges of sexually assaulting three boys between 1977 and 1999.

Last year Nehemia pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecencies between males, four of indecencies with a boy under the age of 12 and two of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.


However, after two of the victims gave evidence before Judge Russell Collins and a jury, Nehemia changed his pleas to guilty.

He will be sentenced on June 26.

Nehemia's plea change came after he was admitted to hospital on Wednesday morning after the first day of the trial.

Two of the victims had given harrowing evidence and the third was due to take the witness stand but was not needed after the plea change.

On Wednesday Nehemia revealed on Facebook that his body had "a bad rash all over it".

"This morning I've been admitted into Auckland Hospital to have test done as I haven't been feeling the best," he wrote, later posting a series of photographs of him in a hospital bed smiling and surrounded by supporters.

Despite his plea, this morning he posted a message on his Facebook page, which he regularly updates with religious messaging.

It stated: don't believe everything you hear, there are three sides to every story.

Ratana Church minister Daniel Nehemia has pleaded guilty to child sex offending. Photograph/Facebook
Ratana Church minister Daniel Nehemia has pleaded guilty to child sex offending. Photograph/Facebook

It will be the third time Nehemia has been convicted and sentenced for sex offending against children.

On the first day of the trial Crown Prosecutor Jo Murdoch revealed that he has two previous convictions and has served jail time for sexually abusing young boys - including one at the church where his father was a minister.

Nehemia was ordained as a minister in the Ratana Church in 2015.

All of the offending happened before then.

It is unclear whether the Ratana Church knew of his previous convictions when he was elevated to ministerial status.

The most recent victims - who are now all adults - all have statutory and permanent name suppression and cannot be identified.

The first two men gave evidence on Tuesday, explaining in graphic detail what Nehemia did to them and how they reacted.

Both said they were children, confused about what was happening but very clear that they did not like what had been done to them.

In her opening, Crown prosecutor Jo Murdoch told the jury Nehemia sexually assaulted three boys "who he had access to".

She said the two victims were aged 7 and 11 and Nehemia about 15 when he abused them repeatedly in the late 70s.

Nehemia abused the third victim in the late 90s when the boy was 9.

In her opening, Murdoch told the jury that Nehemia had two previous convictions for sexually abusing children.

The first was in 1979 when Nehemia was "17, almost 18".

Murdoch revealed Nehemia pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting an 11-year-old boy during Sunday school.

Nehemia's father was a minister in the Māori Evangelical Fellowship church and the boy was playing in the grounds of the minister's house.

He called the child into the house and took him to his bedroom,

He sat the victim on his knee and started "pumping himself" against the boy.

The abuse only stopped when the young victim "managed to escape and ran out of the house".

In March 1980 Nehemia was convicted.

Then in January 1990, he struck again.

This time he was 27 and his victim was a 12-year-old boy.

Nehemia was camping and sharing a tent with the boy and his brother who he knew through his church.

He admitted to indecently assaulting the victim by touching his penis and performing oral sex on him.

He was convicted and sentenced to one year and three months in prison.

When he was first arrested in mid-2018 Nehemia denied all of the offending and told police that after his previous convictions and time in prison he "would never make that mistake again".

At the start of the trial his lawyer Peter Tomlinson claimed "some sort of collusion or fabrication" and accused the victims of "getting their heads together and making this up".

"He says these incidents did not happen," Tomlinson told the court.

At the time of his arrest Nehemia was a senior Ratana Church Minister.

He was ordained in November 2015.

The church was founded at Ratana Pa near Whanganui in 1920 by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana —​ a Methodist farmer who was regarded as a visionary and faith healer.

The church was not aware of the charges Nehemia was facing until they were reported by the Herald.

Less than two hours after church leaders read about the alleged offending they stood Nehemia down from his position and forbade him from "participating in anything to do with the church".

"The church executive is shocked to learn of the charges against a person who holds a senior position within the church," they said in a statement.

"The church executive considers this type of behaviour abhorrent and will not tolerate it from any office holder of the church."

Nehemia had attended a meeting with church leaders days before his alleged offending was revealed and did not mention the charges or upcoming trial.

At the time church secretary Piriwiritua Rurawhe said Nehemia was refusing to communicate with him.


If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.​

If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on:

• Text 4334 and they will respond

• Email support@safetotalk.nz

• Visit https://safetotalk.nz/contact-us/ for an online chat

Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.

If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.