Fundraising for dead woman's return

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
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SLAIN: Sharnee Ngatai was a mum of three.

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The body of a former Taranaki woman who died after an altercation with her partner in Australia is expected to arrive home by the end of next week.

Sharnee Ngatai, 23, mother of three, died in a Melbourne hospital on Saturday.

Her father, Dion Kahukaka, told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday he had spoken to his daughter's family in Australia and they had agreed her body should be sent back to her spiritual home.

"They told me: we will bring her home for you," he said.

"It made me cry my bro; I just bawled my eyes out."

Mr Kahukaka plans to have a tangi for his daughter at Orimupiko Marae, Eltham Rd.

The New Zealand Government would not pay for Ms Ngatai's body to be returned home because she was an Australian citizen.

So Mr Kahukaka set up a Facebook page to help raise funds to bring her home which is expected to cost between $7000 and $10,000. He has been overwhelmed by the generosity shown and so far $3500 had been received.

"I wish I could give them all a hug, every single person."

However, while Mr Kahukaka was overjoyed to know his daughter's body was heading home, he said he felt shattered to discover two of her children, his grandchildren, were now in the custody of the alleged murderer's parents. He said he wanted custody of the children and would be consulting a lawyer.

"I want to bring her home and get that sorted first, then concentrate on getting my mokopuna home." Mr Kahukaka said he had been told his daughter was smashed over the head with a chair.

Neighbours heard a man yelling: "I love you, wake up" shortly before an ambulance arrived at the couple's home about 2am on Saturday, it has been reported in the media.

Ms Ngatai and her partner had reportedly been drinking in the back yard with friends for much of the night before her death.

Meanwhile, New Plymouth tattooist Azah Wirangi, of Stylah Ink, was flat out yesterday after offering to donate all of the money he made yesterday and today.

He was fully booked each day and expected to raise between $1200 and $1500.

"I haven't stopped tattooing," the father-of-two told the Taranaki Daily News.

"I'm happy with how things are going; I didn't think it was going to end up this big. If this had happened to my family, I would like to think people would help out to bring my baby back home."

Krystie Harvey, 22, of Opunake, said she had always wanted a tattoo, however was scared of the pain but decided it was a good cause.

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"It's an hour of pain which is nothing compared with what her father's going through.

"No parent should have to bury their kids first," said the mother of two who chose a floral design that incorporated her children's names.

Lysa Robinson, 21, of Opunake, was first in the chair yesterday because she wanted to help the family in their hour of need.

"I hope all of the money that's raised can help them out," Ms Robinson said.

Ms Ngatai's partner, Tauranga born Steve Cook, has appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with murder and has been remanded in custody to reappear on May 5.

- Taranaki Daily News

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