Moko ‘broke our hearts’
Reformed thugs joined bereaved mothers, patched gang members, and young children to pay special tribute to the short life of a young boy who has come to symbolise domestic violence in New Zealand.
March for Moko events brought together people from all sides of the domestic violence spectrum on Sunday, as thousands turned out to demand better protection of New Zealand’s children after the horrific death of Moko Rangitoheriri.
The Auckland march began at 1pm in Aotea Square.
About 1000 people gathered in support of Moko and other child victims of domestic violence.
Many of the marchers were mums who had brought their kids along. But there was also a Mongrel Mob member and patched members of the Bikers Against Child Abuse Auckland chapter.
The demonstrators carried small fragile hands made of blue paper on popsicle sticks.
A little boy had a placard that read, ‘‘Don’t hurt us.’’
They heard speeches from advocates including organiser Karis Vesey, Labour Party spokesperson for children Jacinda Ardern, and stopping domestic violence advocate Vic Tamati.
‘‘I feel like what we’re here for today is to call for that change, to create a New Zealand where we don’t have every second day a child admitted to hospital with injuries that have been inflicted upon them,’’ Ardern said.
Tamati, a former perpetrator of domestic violence, talked about the hurt he had inflicted on those around him. Those people included his mother, his wife, his children, neighbours, family relations. He went for help in 1992, and realised everything he knew about being a man was wrong.
‘‘I grew up in the darkness. I thought bashing up was okay. ... I was so, so wrong.’’
He said it was a man’s job to stand up to domestic violence, not perpetrate it.
Despite the outcry of the manslaughter charges against Moko’s caregivers David Haerewa and Tania Shailer, Prime Minister John Key said a review of sentencing in child abuse cases was not needed.
Hundreds of people turned up for the March for Moko event in Auckland.