About 3000 people have registered their interest to take part in the Rotorua march for slain 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri today - including a strong gang presence.

There was public uproar nationwide when Moko's killers, Tania Shailer and David Haerewa, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter instead of murder, which they were originally charged with. The same day, details were released about the horrific abuse the pair subjected the toddler to during his time in their care.

Shailer and Haerewa will be sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua today.

Protests have been organised in centres across the country to coincide with the pair's sentencing.


Sensible Sentencing Trust Rotorua area co-ordinator and march organiser Maggie Bentley said the support was astounding.

"To see the online interest numbers reach 3000 has been absolutely astounding.

"When we first decided to do the march we were expecting a few of us to make the walk and stand outside the courthouse for the sentencing, now there are 12,000 people nationwide who have expressed their interest in marching for Moko."

Mrs Bentley said she was keen to hear what sentence the pair received and the reaction from the marching crowd.

"I think even if the judge gives the maximum sentence she can for their manslaughter charge, it's not going to be enough."

Those taking part in the march will meet at the Village Green at 9am. There will be a few speakers before the march travels down Fenton St and on to Arawa St, assembling outside the Rotorua court.

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Members of the Rotorua Grandparents Raising Grandchildren support group will be among the marchers.

Field officer Sheree McKenzie said they decided to get involved to stand up against child abuse.

"We are there to show our support for putting our children first. We want to encourage others to stand up and spread the message that we shouldn't be silent when it comes to this issue."

The Ministry of Justice has previously told the Rotorua Daily Post it would not discuss if additional security measures were being put in place for the sentencing and protest.

However, a spokesman said they expected a lot of people would attend.