Social worker in Moko case unaware of abuse

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Māori Women's Refuge worker Trina Marama, who assisted the woman sentenced for the manslaughter of 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri, Tania Shailer, reiterated that she knew nothing about the abuse inflicted on the toddler prior to his death at the second day of the corners inquiry in Rotorua.

Marama is adamant she didn't know the women she was helping was hurting Moko Rangitioheriri, who was under her care.

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

Marama gave evidence today saying she first sighted Moko in June 2015, after returning his seven-year-old sister to the home of Shailer in Taupō. Shailer had enrolled his sister under Marama's programme to help children deal with family violence.

"It was a cool day and Moko had a coat on and the scene appeared to be that of a happy family," she said.

Marama was singled out as the social worker who failed Moko Rangitoheriri. She was challenged by the lawyer of Moko's mother, Nicola Dally-Paki for not raising alarm bells.

"You think it's okay? You did think it's okay and that's why you never made a report of concern about these very clear now disclosed assaults prior to Moko's death, do you accept that?," said lawyer Arama Ngapo-Lipsombe.

"No," replied Marama, 

"This has affected my whole family, I don't care so much about me, but I deeply to the very hā of me care about the effect of all this wrong information has had on them. This is the second time I can tell my truth, the first time was on Māori TV."

One of the key focuses of the Coroner is to make recommendations that will prevent a death like this from happening again.

David Dowthwaite, Counsel assist to presiding Coroner William Bain, asked Marama, "In hindsight reflecting on what happened, would you do differently?"

Marama says she honestly doesn't know whether she would do anything differently, presented with the same set of circumstances.