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Twins murder highlights bigger problem -

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Broadcast: 29/06/2006

Twins murder highlights bigger problem

Reporter: Peter Lewis

PETER LEWIS: A gathering at the dawn of Matariki, the Maori new year, a timely opportunity to shine
some light on the shameful cycle of violence that's an all too common part of Maori family life.
One hundred and twenty flames, one for every life lost to domestic violence in this part of
Auckland in the past 10 years. This woman's sister was stabbed to death by her de facto in April.

GEORGINA TAHUNA: She's one of the numbers. And for us, it's still a healing process that we're
going through. I believe we could have avoided this, but we knew nothing, as whanau do. Yeah, it
was too late for us.

PETER LEWIS: Over the past decade there have been 540 homicides in New Zealand, just over half of
them the result of domestic violence. This country has the third worst record in the OECD for
killing its young, and Maori children are twice as likely to die at the hands of a relative than
the general population.

SUPERINTENDENT STEVE SHORTLAND, NZ POLICE: The disappointing thing is that both Maori and Pacific
Island cultures embrace love, aroha, and the whanau as the cornerstones of who we are. Well,
there's some sort of hypocrisy going on here. How can we say that we embrace the whanau and aroha
when we are belting each other and our children for no reason other than that we are angry? And we
take that anger out on the ones we love.

PETER LEWIS: The recent murder of twin three-month-old boys Chris and Cru Kahui by someone in their
extended family has angered and outraged Maori and Pakeha - white New Zealanders - alike. The
babies had sustained brain damage and other injuries, yet those closest to them won't cooperate
with police to identify who did it.

JUNE JACKSON, MANUKAU URBAN MAORI AUTHORITY: You know, Maori people in general, we don't trust the
cops, so we've got to work on the relationships. The cops have got to work on the relationships -
even when I see one, I look at them sideways. So you know, there's a lot of work to be done.

PETER LEWIS: Domestic violence callouts in this part of Auckland have doubled in the past four
years. In 2005, they accounted for 42 per cent of all emergency calls to police. Nine out of twelve
murder victims in the district last year were killed by people closest to them, as were half the
national homicides over the past decade.

MARY-ANNE RAPATA, POLICE MAORI LIAISON OFFICER: Which means 260 people have been killed by someone
that they used to love, they trusted, um ... that there was that unconditional love in terms of
children and ex-partners that couldn't stop loving. And, you know, the sad thing is that they've
killed out of love.


PETER LEWIS: Author Alan Duff's unflinching portrayal of a dysfunctional Maori family in denial
struck a nerve for film audiences around the world when it was released in 1994.

ALAN DUFF, AUTHOR: I think they can identify with the children who are all huddled in the bed as
the violence is going on. In Once Were Warriors, the children were my concern. I was really asking,
you know, what happens to the children? And, of course, by creating those characters, I told a
story of exactly what happens to the children - they end up in gangs, they end up killing
themselves, they end up angry and violent themselves. And the cycle keeps repeating itself.

FOOTAGE OF ONCE WERE WARRIORS: You did this to me, you bastard. I hope you spew your guts out.

ALAN DUFF, AUTHOR: And it'll continue to repeat itself, because you've got a combination of very,
very poor Maori leadership, who can't be told anything. They just think they know it all, and
"Don't tell me nothing, and don't ... I'm not taking anyone's advice." And we've got this equally
dangerous breed of the white liberals, who want to shower us with money - and I'm absolutely sure
that the situation is similar in Australia. They want to shower us with money and then expect us to
... to somehow come out of it with our dignity and indeed, some sort of education and some hope
that we're going to advance in life. This whole attitude that violence is just perfectly okay has
just got to change.

PETER LEWIS: This image in New Zealand's largest daily paper this week might signal a shift in that
attitude. It was drawn by award-winning cartoonist Rod Emmerson, an Australian who admits it was a
tough call for editors to run it in the midst of all the anger and emotion of the Kahui case.

ROD EMMERSON, NEW ZEALAND HERALD: They've copped a bit of flack. But you know, as I said, as the
days have ticked by, some very vocal people have come forward, some highly-respected people amongst
the Maori community have come forward and they've defended the decision.

JUNE JACKSON: Can't do anything about some of our people - they can't hear you, they've got no
ears. So don't waste time there. We've got to look for our people who are vulnerable and try and
fix it somehow. So I'm calling to our leaders to show some strong leadership and we've got to get
out there and do it.

PETER LEWIS: Maori party leader Pita Sharples has spent the past week trying to make sense of the
Kahui killing and convince the parents and the extended family to take some responsibility for the
crime committed in their own home.

DR PITA SHARPLES, MAORI PARTY LEADER: Then how do we get to these dysfunctional families, these
dysfunctional groups before violence takes place? And it would seem there is a solution, but it's
going to take courage and it's going to take very special people.

PETER LLOYD: Indeed, that's become a Maori new year's resolution.

MAN: Whanau, we have a special lighting of a flame of hope, a Matariki flame of hope that the year
ahead is special year and a better year, so far as domestic violence is concerned.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Echoes of a common problem between Australia and New Zealand. Peter Lewis reporting
from Auckland.

(c) 2006 ABC