A disgraced Ratana Church Minister has been jailed for a raft of sexual abuse charges against young boys.
His offending was described as "very predatory" in court, and his victims - who gave evidence as adult men - were commended for their courage and willingness to seek justice.
Daniel Brass Raharaha Nehemia - also known as Brass Boyboy Nehemia and Brass Boyboy Raharaha - pleaded guilty to historic child sex offending in April.
The guilty plea came part-way through a trial in the Auckland District Court, after two of his three victims had given harrowing evidence about his offending which occurred between 1977 and 1999.
Nehemia, who was ordained as a minister in 2015, was convicted on three charges of indecencies between males, four of indecencies with a boy and two of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.
His victims were aged 8, 10 and 11 at the time.
Nehemia was known to all of their families and he abused all of the boys in their home environments.
Today at sentencing, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey sought a jail term of just under seven years for the repeat sex offender.
He said Nehemia's offending on boys, who were vulnerable due to their age, was profound and had lasting impacts on them.
"The assaults were very predatory," Dickey told the court.
"He had existing ties or relationships with them ... these were very much predatory attacks ... there was little other engagement with these children apart from to gratify his own sexual needs and wants.
Ratana Church minister pleads guilty mid-trial to child sex offences
Ratana Church minister on trial in Auckland for child sex offending
Ratana Church minister accused of child sex offending
"There was an abuse of trust ... all three victims have expressed the view that [Nehemia] should go to jail."
Dickey said the first two victims gave "powerful" evidence at trial.
The third did not get a chance before Nehemia changed his plea.
"I commend his fortitude, strength, integrity in seeing the matter through, his willingness to give evidence at trial," said Dickey.
That victim was in court, flanked by family and the officer in charge of the investigation, to see his abuser sentenced.
The court heard that during an interview for a pre-sentence report Nehemia told a probation officer that he denied any offending.
However the court was assured by defence lawyer Peter Tomlinson that Nehemia stood by his guilty plea and accepted any sentence handed down.
Judge Russell Collins read the summary of facts in full, outlining the sickening offending.
The Herald has chosen not to publish the specifics out of respect to the victims.
During one particularly horrific assault, Nehemia told his young victim "don't say anything, no one will believe you".
"It took great courage for them, in a court room full of strangers, to talk about the things that happened to them when they were young children," Judge Collins said.
"Their evidence was extraordinarily powerful - anyone in that courtroom would not have had any doubt at all that they were telling the truth."
Judge Collins sentenced Nehemia to five years and 10 months in prison.
He allowed the Herald to photograph the sex offender in court but declined an application to film the sentencing.
He explained that the victims wanted their names read in court - they wanted to be acknowledged aloud and in front of their abuser rather than protected - and that made it problematic for media to film the proceedings.
Victims of sexual offending have automatic and statutory name suppression and can not be identified in any way unless they seek a court-ordered waiver.
Nehemia was supported in court by a small group of people.
A man who appeared to represent the Ratana Church was also in the public gallery.
Today's sentence is Nehemia's third for sex offending against children.
He was 18 when he was first sentenced in 1980, for 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 when he was targeted by the serial sex offender.
For that crime Nehemia was fined $100.
Then in January 1990, he struck again.
This time he was 27 and his victim was a 12-year-old boy.
Nehemia indecently assaulted the boy while they were camping and sharing a tent with the child's brother.
He was convicted and sentenced to one year and three months in prison.
Nehemia went on to become a respected and trusted minister.
The Ratana 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 most recent charges against Nehemia 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.
Following his guilty plea, the Herald revealed that social media giant Facebook had shut down a number of profile pages in Nehemia's name.
He had several pages set up before his trial and established at least one other after those were shut down following reports of concern from the public.
Convicted sex offenders are not permitted to use Facebook.
A spokesman for the online networking site said it would keep removing profiles set up by Nehemia and any other people it became aware of who had been convicted of sex crimes.
SEXUAL HARM - DO YOU NEED HELP?
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 email@example.com
• 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.