Kipa Rex Morehu
Rotorua Daily Post story here
Rotorua Daily Post story 25th January 2008
A prominent Te Arawa kaumatua has been sent to jail for sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1980s. Kipa Rex Morehu, 70, pleaded guilty to five charges in the Rotorua District Court yesterday - two of indecent assault and three of inducing a boy to do indecent acts. The charges relate to three incidents in the 1980s. Two respected Te Arawa kaumatua and Morehu's sister spoke about the abuse he experienced throughout his life and the shame the entire family felt about the offending. They said Morehu is an asset to the community because of the traditional Maori knowledge he holds.
Tai Eru, Morehu's cousin, spoke of the work Morehu had done for Maori and the community and how the family felt ashamed of his actions. "When you sentence Kipa all the whanau bear the shame.," he said. Te Arawa Lakes Trust chairman Toby Curtis said Morehu was a childhood friend. He said Morehu lived with abuse on a daily basis. Mr Curtis said when Morehu's offending was exposed, he withdrew from society. "Kipa would have been thrashed to near death for any transgression ... Today he is consumed with guilt," he said. Morehu's sister, Titipou Smale, said her family had done a lot of work to break the cycle of violence and abuse which they had grown up with.
They would like to support both their brother and the victim as they lived within "their temple of shame", she said. She asked the court to consider home detention for her brother who suffered a multitude of health issues. "The scars of physical and emotional abuse are with me daily. As a family we feel deeply for the victim and what was done to him," she said. The family fear he may not survive a lengthy term of imprisonment. Defence lawyer Annette Sykes said her client was a knowledgeable man within Te Arawa, specialising in Ngati Pikiao waiata, and he was deeply remorseful for what he had done.
Growing up, her client had been sexually abused by whanau members and couldn't remember some of what he had done to the victim because of his own abuse. "It's like a black hole in his life ... He accepts his behaviour was inappropriate," she said. Morehu and his siblings lived constantly with the threat of physical abuse from their mother which could shed light on his offending, Ms Sykes said. "[It] was one of the harshest environments for a child to be raised in ... Weapons, like hot pokers from the stove, were used in violent tirades," she said.
Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said while violence wasn't used, the boy was stopped from leaving by Morehu holding him around the neck tightly. Judge Philip Cooper said Morehu had not used violence but had threatened the boy's parents would lose their jobs if he disclosed the offending. Judge Cooper took into account his early plea, his remorse, current health conditions and strong family and community support along with his willingness to apologise to his victim. He sentenced Morehu to 18 months imprisonment with a special condition of release that a restorative justice meeting be held if the victim agreed.
Date of Birth
Indecent assault (x2) and inducing a boy to do an indecent act (x3) in the 1980s
Three Strikes Status
Sentenced to eighteen months in January 2008
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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