March for a na­tion’s shame


‘‘Things must change’’ was the em­phatic mes­sage de­liv­ered dur­ing Mon­day morn­ing’s March for Moko. A crowd that swelled to 150, marched around The Square from Cole­man Pl to the Main St court­house in sol­i­dar­ity with other cen­tres across the coun­try. The protest against the man­slaugh­ter charge was timed to co­in­cide with the sen­tenc­ing in the Ro­torua High Court of a cou­ple for the killing of 3-year-old Moko Ran­gi­to­heriri.

Later that day, his killers Ta­nia Shailer and David Haerewa each re­ceived 17-year sen­tences – the high­est ever im­posed in New Zealand for the man­slaugh­ter of a child.

Or­gan­iser Jas Fisher from Levin was pleased and proud of the morn­ing’s turnout.

‘‘This is how we feel as a na­tion,’’ Jas says. ‘‘ Enough is enough... We have stood up and been pre­pared to say ‘No!’’’

Mother of two Jen­nifer Far­rell-Tay­lor read In the Bonds of Love We Meet, a poem she had written for Moko, but also with her 2-yearold niece – who she says was mur­dered – and the 210 New Zealand chil­dren killed since 1992, in mind. It ended with the words: ‘‘A cri­sis we must not ig­nore/ We’ve had enough/ Not one child more! Jus­tice for Moko/ Jus­tice for all/ God de­fend our chil­dren’’.

The march at­tracted a group of stu­dent’s and a teacher from Pahiatua’s Tararua Col­lege.

‘‘I don’t un­der­stand how some­one can abuse a child when they can’t do any­thing about it,’’ says school so­cial sci­ence cap­tain, 17-year-old Nathaniel Burnes.

Ran­gi­tane kau­matua Wiremu Te Awe Awe, who blessed the march with a prayer, says people have got to stop brush­ing the is­sue under the car­pet.

‘‘If we know this is hap­pen­ing in fam­i­lies, we must speak out about it.’’

Marcher Alis­ter Cameron drew on the forth­com­ing Olympics for his per­spec­tive: ‘‘New Zealand has a gold medal in abus­ing and killing chil­dren’’.

Fol­low­ing a short vigil out­side the court­house, the group gath­ered in The Square where they were ad­dressed by an openly emo­tional city MP Iain Lees-Gal­loway.

‘‘I look at my kids and I just can’t un­der­stand how you can’t look at a child with any­thing but love, with any­thing but the strong­est de­sire to pro­tect them.’’

Iain says he was more con­cerned about how to pre­vent fur­ther deaths than about the pun­ish­ment Moko’s killers re­ceived.

‘‘We need to take that re­spon­si­bil­ity col­lec­tively, en­sur­ing people grow up with the skills and at­tributes they need to be parents. But we also need to have a sys­tem in place that is able to pro­tect our kids.’’


March for Moko or­gan­iser Jas Fisher, hold­ing a white pam­phlet, leads sup­port­ers around The Square to the court­house on Mon­day morn­ing while the 3-year-old’s killers were up for sen­tenc­ing.

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