Moko ‘broke our hearts’

Central Leader - - HOMES - TOM HUNT, LEAH FLYNN AND JACK VAN BEYNEN

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.

‘‘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’’ Jacinda Ardern

PHOTO: CHRIS SKELTON

Hun­dreds of peo­ple turned up for the March for Moko event in Auck­land.

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