Guest Post – Why I refuse to read anything about Moko

Moko Rangitoheriri

Moko Rangitoheriri

If you follow any form of New Zealand media, it’s impossible to have avoided seeing numerous headlines about a young child named Moko. I’ve chosen – refused – to read anything more than seeing those headlines.

I am not putting my head in the sand: I have already read the research on New Zealand’s shameful child maltreatment statistics.

Knowing the specific details about this particular case does not help make me a better mother to my young children.

My primary responsibility is to protect and care for my children. Parenting is a hard, tiring, thankless, frustrating and endless job. I need and want examples of other people who’ve survived the journey and giving and receiving of support from other mums and dads who are there in the thick of things too and real about their struggles. Talking to others and realising they get how loud and messy life with kids can be over food with laughter eases the load.   

Knowing how Moko was treated by his caregivers does not solve the problem in our society.  Marching does not solve the problem. Making new laws does not solve the problem. Blaming government agencies does not solve the problem.

The quiet and seemingly unremarkable actions of people who make real consistent time for each other to ease their burdens helps solve the problem. Extended family looking after each other and groups of families sharing the load when times are tough. Taking a couple of kids out for the day, making meals, doing chores together, buying some groceries. Those things matter.

Knowing the specific details about how Moko died is an utter waste of time. People can point fingers at people like “them” and “their” problems and how “society” or “agencies” have failed the child. It can make us feel sickened and angry for a while.

But how often do these negative feelings produce lasting change in our own lives: new habits to use our time to support the families we personally know? That’s the hard stuff.

So the news moves onto the next topic we need to despair over and nothing changes.


– Mother of Four



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  • Christie

    I so agree with this. I heard about all the marches for Moko at the weekend. But it will make not one iota of difference – until families and extended families start to look after each other, and report incidents where they know something is wrong.

    • Dave

      100% agree, but it needs the families, the whanau, the communities to SPEAK OUT, and not to remain silent, and to have no shame sending their loved ones to the authorities if they suspect they are the ones doing harm to their, or others families, women or children.

  • Oh Please

    We all know what the problem is. Marches won’t help. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes all over again – wake up and face reality, whanau. Stop passing the buck and blaming everyone else.

    • johnandali

      No. They are like this because they are conditioned to behave like this. You’ve got to start when they are young kids. Educate the kids. Teach the kids how to behave. Teach the kids how to react to problems and how to control their anger. Teach them. Teach them. Don’t wait until the kids are on the dole or they’re 15 year-old single mothers. Teach them while they’re young. Break the cycle. It can be done.

      • Oh Please

        Yes, I know. But when you have teachers, iwi leaders and other PC apologists blaming everyone else then it will not get addressed.

      • socantor

        People need to listen to you.

  • F T Bear

    I couldn’t agree more, we have been marching for causes for as long as I can remember. The one thing that people can’t seem to do is the one thing that they need to do , work hard. Parenting has never been easy, it takes time and effort. Until these people strart to take their responsibilities seriously like thousands of others do every day it will be just a matter of time before we are outraged and marching again.

  • BR

    Marching? That’s a laugh. Perhaps if they start executing the perpetrators, that might get some much needed attention.


  • Hesaidwhat?

    I agree with your last sentiment that there needs to be a change in cultural mindset towards raising kids, and that to stop more mokos happening everyone needs to get involved. However I must admit to thinking your theme was a little too glass half empty. Yeah parenting can be tough at times however it can also be hugely rewarding. Even more so once they get into their 20s and realise how much you did for them the previous 20 years and you get to see how they turned out. Many parents today seem to be lacking the “just deal with it gene,” and seem to think they are breaking new ground in terms of task difficulty when they actually arnt.

    • socantor

      The only cultural mindset that needs to be changed is the one on the marae.
      I don’t know of any iwi or hapu that has had the fortitude to raise this issue in a marae setting.

      • johnandali

        That’s primarily because the leadership in the Maoridom is earned not by their abilities, but by their birth. That’s how a truck driver became the Maori king. Do you think he can ever be an effective leader when he has no leadership or worldly experience? Of course not. Maoridom is like Islam. Islam cannot change their customs or their rules, and they are doomed to eternal failure. Maoridom has similar problems. And both cultures are being stifled and held-back by their out-of-date customs and rules. So here is my advice to Maoridom. Change the system of leadership. Elect your leaders. Select your leaders on basis of what they can do for your iwi or hapu. Make the leadership a three-year term and then hold another election. Just think of the turmoil that NZ would be experiencing if we had one leader chosen by his (or her) birthright which would have no bearing whatsoever on their ability. So my message to the Maori leaders. Announce that you will be retiring in a year’s time and that from then, all leaders will be elected on a three-year basis. And then you will see progress. Real progress.

        • socantor

          Again, good thinking.

          • Nyla

            but unfortunately they would be elected on money giving ability only, and maybe have gangs becoming leadership … now thats a horrible thought … may it never happen

          • johnandali

            But the government is already giving money to gangs. Have a look at the latest case. Black Power in Dunedin were given a great deal of money by the Crown for some purpose that I can’t recall. One gang member stole over $20,000 from that pool. Was in the paper the other day.

            My second point is that some years ago, the Hoani Waititi Marae and one other (both in Auckland), took up a High Court case to enable disenfranchised Maoris in urban areas to have their own iwi in terms of the Treaty (the new iwi would be the two maraes), as these disenfranchised Maoris had lost touch with their own tribes, and had intermarried with people from other tribes. Well, every major figure in Maoridom attended the court proceedings. And they were totally against the concept. And the Maraes lost their case. And sadly the disenfranchised Maoris are still disenfranchised. It’s a total disgrace, and the decision needs to be reviewed urgently. Because if you want the iwis and the hapus to talk to Maoris, they are only going to be able to talk to half of them. The other half have no leadership, no guidance, no tribal knowledge – but they are still Maoris. And I have a feeling that the majority of Maoris in our prison system now might be those disenfranchised people. But who would know?

  • KGB

    First of all, well said.
    I agree with everything except your reference to law change.
    We must change the laws or penalties if we are to ensure these people do indeed receive an adequate sentence. A sentence that removes them from society for life.
    The Moko and Blessie killings have highlighted the inadequate tools our current laws have to ensure we are better protected from their evil.
    Moko’s killers will be out of jail within about 10 years. They will still be young, they will still be evil.
    Blessie’s killer had served his time. He was still young, and he will be forever evil.
    I truely believe both these cases have highlighted the need for harsher laws, and life imprisonment.
    We don’t even have a seperate law for the murder or torture of children. Harsher laws may not have saved Moko’s life, but it could have saved Blessies.
    Sterilisation must also be put on the table. Blessies killer should NEVER be allowed to breed. Moko’s killers will have other children on release. Even if they are automatically removed, why would we allow it?
    Until we live in a society prepared to sterilise these monsters, they will continue to cycle more evil. Generations without empathy!

    • Nyla

      totally agree with sterilization of mongrels …. and anyone that claims that drugs made them do it, then give them a lethal overdose … we dispose of animals that have killing tendencies so why not humans, especially those that pack …. laws are being updated but unfortunately it takes something horrific to set it in motion, at least national have brought most laws up to date but theres still enough opposing them being severe because of human rights or pc rubbish

  • SlightlyStrange

    I too have avoided reading much about Moko.
    I’ve read more than enough even with that.
    As a mum of a child the same age, what he went through terrifies me – I KNOW how smart and cognizant a child of that age is. The sad thing is that there is evidence around that the damage to Moko had been done for life – if he had survived and grown up, he still would likely have been another statistic.
    Every time you hear about one of these cases in the news, there is an inevitable uproar – but HOW do we stop such things happening in this more enlightened day and age? (Because you can bet your bottom dollar such things have been happening for the entirety of human history, across all cultures and multiple socio-economic groups).

    • socantor

      Yet you choose to read this. Hippocrite!

      • SlightlyStrange

        Check your comprehension please.
        I said I have chosen not to read MUCH – not opted to read nothing.
        Certainly not hypocritical.

  • socantor

    Call me a racist, but the predominant skin colour for these kiddy bashers seems to be always brown. If that is the case, then it is a problem with culture which falls within my knowledge base as a social anthropologist. Nowhere have I read that the issue is a subject for discussion on any marae. When I see that it is, I will be looking forwards to a sharp decline in child killing statistics. Only then will there be the requires seismic shift in attitude. Law changes are useless: the law is already adequate to punish perpetrators. There needs to be action to prevent, not punish. In the meantime, we can only expect child bashings resulting in killings t continue at the same rate as at present.

    • johnandali

      When I worked in the prison system quite a few years ago, it was recognised that Maori inmates had one thing in common – their inability to control their anger. There were courses for inmates on anger management that worked on the premise that if they could teach the inmates to count for a few seconds after their angry feelings started, there was a good chance they could think about what they were doing, and resist the impulse for violent reaction. I believe that this system should be used more often – but not only in the prison system, but in the schooling system. Teach them while they’re young. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Stop the Maori violence problem before it starts, not afterwards. Ambulance at top of cliff stuff.

      • socantor

        Excellent thinking!