Makutu: Curse-lifting a family tradition

Last updated 11:53 08/06/2009
CRAIG SIMCOX/The Dominion Post Zoom
Hall Jones Wharepapa, 46, is jointly charged with the manslaughter of Janet Moses.

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LATEST: One of the aunts accused of the manslaughter of Janet Moses told police she had childhood memories of following her mother as she blessed their house as part of a ceremony to lift a makutu or curse on her eldest brother.

The brother, John Rawiri junior, is in the dock at the High Court at Wellington along with four of his sisters, his wife and two of his brothers-in-law.

They are charged with the manslaughter of their niece, Ms Moses, at Wainuiomata on October 12, 2007, when the Crown alleges she drowned during a ceremony to lift a makutu.

At the start of the sixth week of the trial today the jury has heard a recorded interview one of the accused, Tanginoa Apanui, had with police two days after Ms Moses died.

Apanui told her that her mother's side of the family were very spiritual and had lifted makutu before.

Apanui said she had seen one personally when she was a child and her brother was affected.

"But I still remember a lot of it because we, us kids, had to walk around the whole house with our mother with a cross in her hand and follow behind her while she will bless the whole house and say a prayer as she was doing it."

BEFORE THE COURT

Nine members of Janet Moses' extended family are charged with her manslaughter, which the Crown alleges was the result of an attempt to remove a curse a makutu or evil spirit.

The accused are: John Tahana Rawiri, 49, Georgina Aroha Rawiri, 50, Aroha Gwendoline Wharepapa, 48, Hall Jones Wharepapa, 46, Tanginoa Apanui, 42, Angela Rangiaroha Orupe, 46, Gaylene Tangiohorere Kepa, 44, Alfred Hughes Kepa, 48, and Glenys Lynette Wright, 52. All are siblings of Ms Moses' mother, or their partners.

Two people, whose names are suppressed, are charged with cruelty to a 14-year-old girl in their care.

The charges date from October 12, 2007, at Wainuiomata, when Ms Moses and others were subjected to a water-based ceremony resulting in Ms Moses drowning, the Crown alleges.

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