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Ngatikaura Ngati
2002 - January 31, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial

When I did a Google search to find pictures of Ngatikaura, NOTHING could have prepared me for what I was about to see. I have heard and read about MANY children who were found with bruises from head to toe, I had never actually seen it.

The first picture to come up was of Ngatikaura laying on his stomach, naked and deceased. His beaten, battered and bruised body in that picture is one that will, I have NO doubt, haunt me for the rest of my life. He truly did have bruises from head to toe. It was obvious that this sweet little boy had suffered terribly at the hands of two monsters pretending to be parents. It was also obvious that NEITHER of them deserved to be called mom or dad.

When he was only one month old, Ngatikaura's mother decided she didn't want him and gave custody of him to her cousin, Kura Kaufausi and her husband Finau. Unable to have children of their own, the couple was happy to have him. Ngatikaura thrived in his home with his adopted mother and father. He was a happy boy who climbed into bed every night and tell his parents that he loved them before he would say his prayers. His bedroom was full of toys, family pictures, Winnie The Pooh and Piglet.

Ngatikaura's days were filled with playing his Ukulele, singing on his Karaoke machine and taking trips with his parents to the zoo or to the beach. His happiness was obvious to those who met him, he was very much loved.

No one could have predicted that three years later, his mother would come to take him back, away from the only life he had ever known. Away from the parents who loved him so much and who he loved. Three weeks after his third birthday, his birth mother, Maine Ngati, decided that she wanted him back, so she went after him. Kura would fight for custody in November of 2005, she and her husband would  lose that fight.

Taken from his home, he then went to live in Otara with four other children in an environment that was totally foreign to him. His bed would be a mattress on the floor and nothing familiar on the walls to comfort him. Ngatikaura's language up to that point had been Tongan and this family spoke only English. He had trouble communicating with the new people in his life.

The confusion caused Ngatikaura to start wetting his pants when he HAD previously been potty trained. On his bottom, he developed an ulcer the size of a mans hand. Maine didn't take him to the doctor to have it treated, she simply placed a sanitary pad on it. Soon, the once happy child would make a complete turn around into a child who was terrified he would be beaten at any moment. At times he would have accidents in his pants and would throw them out the window so that it would not be discovered and he could avoid being beaten.

On January 30, 2006. Ngatikaura receive several beatings which it is believed started about 10:00 a.m. after he had an accident in his pants. Maine stated that she was very angry and picked up a stick and beat him with it all over his body, except for his head, which she says she use her hand on. She then put Ngatikaura into the bath tub.

Later that same day, Ngatikaura woke up and needed to use the bathroom. He was unable to get up because of the pain he was in. Not being able to hold it, he soiled himself which brought on another beating. That night, his stepfather showered him and though police say that the bruises, swelling and damage to his little body would have been plainly obvious especially since his left arm was swollen to twice the size it should have been, he didn't seek help for his stepson:

"He was beaten black and blue all over. This is as bad as anything I have seen on a child or any human. The only thing that was keeping him alive, at that stage, was his  young heart.
Detective Senior Sergeant Richard Middleton.

Ngatikaura's heart was only able to withstand so much and he was beaten again, the next morning. Having another accident in his pants brought about beatings from his mother and his stepfather, Teusila Fa'asisila. Teusila told police that when Ngatikaura had another accident he disciplined him by making him stand with his hands on the wall and lifting his feet and the man beat the bottoms of his feat with a stick. Police didn't believe a word of it since the bottoms of his feet were the only place where there were no bruises.

Physical evidence and statements made by the other children would show that Ngatikaura had been beaten with a baseball bat over his entire body, except for his head. A search of their home showed that a bat had been hidden and it was covered in Ngatikaura's blood. Also, in other rooms throughout the house, more blood was found. In the living room and in Ngatikaura's bedroom, his blood was found as high as on the ceiling. Police say that this would happen when someone  was hit while they were already bleeding. Some of the blood on the walls and floor showed obvious signs of someone having tried to wash it off.

Maine had gone on a job interview in the morning, which is when the beating with bat had taken place. After she returned home, she would notice that Ngatikaura's condition was getting worse and at times during the afternoon, he had even stopped breathing. Maine was attempting CPR on Ngatikaura when Teusila said they should call for an ambulance. Maine said no, saying:

 "Then they will find out"

Teusila eventually went to get his Uncle who lived close by. The Uncle said that they should call an ambulance right away. Maine told the operator that she had beaten Ngatikaura with a stick. She seemed to be more concerned about herself though:

"She said, 'are you going to call the police? Even at that stage she was still more worried
about what was going to happen to her than what happened to Ngati."

Detective Richard Middleton

Ngatikaura was taken to Middlemore Hospital and later transferred to Starship. His adoptive mother, Kura, stayed with him right up to the moment he died. She leaned over and whispered in his ear:

 "go in peace"

And then Ngatikaura's swollen, beaten, bruised and batter body, gave out and he died.

Pathologists would argue in court over what was the exact cause of his death, none would argue that his body was covered in injuries. Pictures taken during post-mortem showed exactly how much abuse he had suffered while he was alive. The investigating officer stopped counting the bruises when he hit 50.

The jury in the High Court would hear how Maine, who was 32, had punched Ngatikaura in his face, hit him with sticks and smacked him on his head when she thought he was being naughty. Teusila, who was 27, would beat him with whatever he could find. In their eyes, being naughty meant he had not moved fast enough for them, he wasn't playing a game correctly and once it meant he had not said "yes mum". Ngatikaura was even beaten once for not hopping like a frog.

Finau and Kura were having a very hard time with his death:

"I feel like my heart's gone. My heart's been ripped out of 
my body because he was our heart. I thought I would get 
over it by now but I can't"
Kura

Finau spends time at the grave of Ngatikaura, making sure it stays clean. The couple often watch videos of the firsts in his life, his first steps, birthdays and other important milestones.

"He was a happy little boy. He called us Mummy and Daddy. 
He didn't know anyone else" 
Kura

Police learned that Maine was claming benefits for more children than she had living with her and that this was the reason she had wanted Ngatikaura to come back and live with her. She was afraid of being caught:

"There's nothing that I have seen that showed she wanted 
Ngati back for reasons of love"

Kura said that she now regrets trying to legally get custody and wishes that instead she had taken him away to a place where they would not have been found. She says if she had, Ngatikaura would be alive:

"I was trying to do it the right way but as a result he 
was dead within nine weeks"

Kura had tried to visit Ngatikaura at his new home and found that no one would ever answer the door. She feels guilty that he never understood why he had to change houses and that they had not been to see him:

"I will always feel guilty because in his mind when he 
was getting bashed he was probably saying 'where's 
my mum, where's my dad?"

Police didn't know how often Ngatikaura had been beaten, though it would have been worse during the last two days of his life. It is  believed that the problem with having accidents was due to the state of mind at all that was happening to him:

"My thoughts on that are that they beat him so much that 
he lost confidence and he wet and pooed himself because 
he got so many beatings"
Detective Richard Middleton

When Ngatikaura's arm was cut open by the Pathologist, they were able to see that the tissue had died from the beatings he had been taking. Also present was a subdural homeroom which was estimated to have been five to ten days old as well as fresh trauma to his head from the most recent beatings. Also present was an unusual pattern with bits of skin that were missing from his arm, wrist and his inside thigh. The weapon that made those marks has yet to be found.

It is not clear if anyone, including relatives, knew about the beatings that Ngatikaura suffered, people denied knowing. Other than his siblings who testified to what they saw, Ngatikaura's abuse was not witnessed by anyone. Mr. Middleton found it hard to believe that even though the beatings never occurred in front of other adults, no one ever noticed that there was anything wrong.

A relative of Maine said that on the morning of his death she had been there during breakfast and she gave him a high fight, things seemed to be fine at that point. The high five took place after he had been beaten, seriously, two times the day before and he was unable to use his arm:

"It's impossible to think he was 'quite happy the morning he died"
Detective Richard Middleton

Richard says it is probably a case of relatives ignoring what was going on or the family members didn't want to know about it:

"In some families abuse of this nature is commonplace 
and every now and then it turns to tragedy as it has in 
this case. The answer is never hit your kids"

Maine and Teusila were both charged with murder, though they were found guilty of manslaughter instead. They were also found guilty of a another charge of manslaughter for not seeking medical care for Ngatikaura that might have saved his life. They were also found guilty of ill-treament of a child.

Kura says it makes her sick to know what happened to Ngatikaura. In her eyes, Maine is no longer her relative and says that the only way that is life was blessed, was the day he died and got away from the people she says are devils:

"I'm glad they got guilty.
That will be justice for my little man"

Justice Graham Lang said that he understood that Maine might have been under stress and suffering from post natal depression when she took Ngatikaura back into her home. He said that the couple had seriously abused their position when the beat him and that using weapons only made it more serious. He said that their idea of what punishment was, was not proper and completely unjustified:

"Ngatikaura was robbed of his life even before it had properly begun. It was incumbent
upon you to protect
him from harm. Instead you did the very opposite"

<>The Judge said that his sentence was based on principles from a previous Court Of Appeal judgment stating that the manslaughter of a defenseless child was worse than that of an adult. It came as a complete shock to me when I read that the people who were responsible for the death of this little Angel, Maine and Teusila<>, received sentences of ONLY eight and a half years with parole being available to them after four years and eight months.

Kura Kaufusi Ngatikaura yelled at them after they were sentenced:

"Go hang yourselves"

Below is Ngatikaura's grave site at Manukau Memorial Gardens.



Thank you to Emma for calling this little Ange'ls case to my attention. I always welcome anyone sending me a the story of a child that needs to be on my site.

UPDATE:

Today is June 13, 2014 and while searching for updates to see if and when Maine was released from prison, I found this information:

In December of 2011, Maine Annabella Ngati gave birth while she was in prison. Though Teusila Fa'Asisila and Maine had been sentenced to eight years and six months for killing Ngatikaura, they were each ordered to serve at least four years and eight months of that sentence before being considered for parole. Maine had gone before the parole board in November and was denied and that is when it was revealed that she had given birth while in prison:

"She has a lot of children and we believe she has even given birth to another child while
on this prison sentence. That child has been fostered or adopted into the community"

Correction Psychological Services was considering a request for Maine to have counseling.

Death occurred in New Zealand

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