Mata­mata marches for Moko

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - SAN­DRA HUNTER

‘‘These are our ba­bies – they are our fu­ture’’.

Those were the words March for Moko or­gan­iser Shar­lene Phillips spoke to sup­port­ers at a gath­er­ing at Mata­mata’s Rail­side by the Green on Satur­day.

Over a hun­dred men, women and chil­dren of all ages gath­ered at Rail­side be­fore em­bark­ing on a march round Mata­mata’s CBD in a bid to push the Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce harsher laws against child abuse.

Their calls come fol­low­ing the death of three-year-old Taupo boy Moko Ran­gi­to­heriri, who was vi­o­lently abused and killed by his care­givers in Au­gust 2015.

David Haerewa and Ta­nia Shailer kicked, slapped, stomped on Moko and rubbed fae­ces in his face in the weeks be­fore his death.

The child was so badly beaten, his mother strug­gled to recog­nise him when she had to iden­tify his body.

Moko’s killers re­cently had their mur­der charges down­graded to man­slaugh­ter – spark­ing a pub­lic outcry. They

The child was so badly beaten, his mother strug­gled to recog­nise him when she had to iden­tify his body.

will be sen­tenced in the High Court in Ro­torua this month.

The Mata­mata march was part of a na­tion­wide ef­fort with sep­a­rate marches pre­vi­ously be­ing held in held in Hamilton, Whangarei, Auck­land, Nel­son and Christchurch last month.

A mother and grand­mother, Phillips or­gan­ised the march af­ter be­ing gal­vanised by yet another New Zealand child’s death at the hands of their care­givers.

‘‘This is about jus­tice for Moko (Ran­gi­to­heriri) and for all the other ba­bies we have lost,’’ she said.

‘‘We need change; we need harsher penal­ties; these are not sim­ply other peo­ple’s ba­bies – these are our ba­bies.’’

Phillips is meet­ing with Moko’s grand­mother at Child Mat­ters in Hamilton this com­ing Satur­day and will hand over funds raised at the march’s sausage siz­zle.

‘‘I’m look­ing for­ward to spend- ing time with her – it will be very spe­cial,’’ Phillips said.

Phillips was sup­ported at Satur­day’s event by Starfish So­cial Ser­vices which pro­moted the It’s Not OK mes­sage (Cam­paign for Ac­tion on Fam­ily Vi­o­lence).

Fur­ther marches and protests for Moko are planned on the day his killers are to be sen­tenced.

* See more from the event on page 4.

PHOTO: SAN­DRA HUNTER

Over a hun­dred men, women and chil­dren of all ages gath­ered at Rail­side by the Green in Mata­mata on Satur­day to push the Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce harsher laws against child abuse. Moko Ran­gi­to­heriri was vi­o­lently abused and killed by his care­givers in Au­gust 2015.

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