Moko inquest: Support worker did not suspect any abuse

5:13 pm on 31 August 2017

A support worker from the Māori women's refuge in Taupō did not suspect any abuse of Moko Rangitoheriri until after his death, an inquest has heard.

Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri

Moko died on 10 August 2015 after suffering horrific injuries. Photo: NZ Police

The three-year-old died on 10 August 2015 after horrendous injuries from beatings and abuse at the hands of Tania Shailer and David Haerewa in 2015.

The pair were meant to be looking after him while his mother, Nicola Dally-Paki, was in Auckland to visit a sick child at Starship Hospital.

Shailer and Haerewa were sentenced to 17 years in jail for Moko's manslaughter last year.

His death prompted protests around the country as people were appalled that the system could have failed a vulnerable child so absolutely.

Today, in court, Māori women's refuge worker Trina Marama took to the stand.

Ms Dally-Paki had named her in her tesitmony yesterday, asking why Mrs Marama did not pick up that abuse was happening despite being an experienced support worker.

"Trina Marama has 12 years' experience as a trained social worker and says that not once did she pick up any signs that something was not right in one of the worst child killings in New Zealand history."

Mrs Marama said Shailer was a good actress because there was never any suspicion Moko was being abused.

"If I had noticed any signs of adult abuse, I would have reported it without delay."

"I never knew Tania was punching Moko. That was never disclosed to me. I knew of sibling rivalry, nothing more."

Mrs Marama said she thought any bruises on the children were from them punching each other because of sibling rivalry.

She said the first she heard of the violent abuse was on the night that Moko died.

She was told Shailer stepped into break up fights between Moko and his sister and had pushed the girl, but Mrs Marama thought that was acceptable.

"I'm not condoning anything, I'm telling you what happened. Absolutely don't condone any sort of abuse.

"I didn't see a push on a shoulder to stop brother and sister fighting as an assault."

Mrs Marama told the inquest that she had worked with Moko's sister in the weeks before his death, and was given no reason to suspect there was any abuse happening in Shailer's household.

"I don't honestly know that I would do anything differently presented with the same set of circumstances."

Two other Child, Youth and Family workers - who can not be named for legal reasons - also gave testimony this afternoon.

They both said that there was nothing in their dealings with Shailer before to Moko's death that suggested there was any abuse happening.

They became involved because Shailer had raised concerns about Ms Dally-Paki, and that was their focus.

The inquest has adjourned and will reconvene in October for futher evidence from expert witnesses.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs