Families rally around man who killed cousin

Hamilton man Malcolm Poata has been jailed for the killing of his cousin, "Jimmy" Moana, but there are no grudges among the families.

Five members of the Moana family read their victim impact statements to Justice Murray Gilbert in the High Court at Hamilton yesterday, while Poata himself also stood and read his letter of remorse in reply.

But outside court, both families stood side by side and both agreed that there were more people responsible for Moana's death than the police believed.

"He's taken the rap for what all these other guys have done," Gary Poata told the Times when questioned about the sentencing. "Malcolm was a good friend of Jimmy's."

Moana's sister Jennifer Moana agreed, saying there were too many unanswered questions.

In sentencing, Justice Gilbert ordered Poata to serve half of his total seven year and two month prison term after a jury found him guilty of manslaughter in the High Court at Hamilton in March.

Moana and Poata were at a birthday party of a senior member of the Taupiri Motorcycle Gang in Ngaruawahia during the weekend of February 16 and 17 last year.

During the early hours of February 17, Moana, a prospect for the gang, got in a dispute with another gang prospect, Jamie Wade, known as Whiti.

Wade punched Moana a couple of times before Poata stepped in and delivered more blows.

Moana fell to the ground and Poata half pulled him up before punching him again. Moana died at the scene and suffered two fractured vertebrae along with other "very very deep" bruises on his back and chest.

A pathologist's report said that the fractures were of the type suffered in a motorcycle or car crash and that "a very significant amount of force" must have been used.

Poata, reading out his remorse letter, said he hoped that "Jimmy" forgave him for what he did.

"Wherever you are go hard . . . ride hard, fast and free."

But while Poata is the one serving time, Moana's family spoke in court of their forgiveness towards him, their cousin.

Moana's niece, Chyanne, 24, told Justice Gilbert that words could not express her sorrow for her uncle's loss.

"He had respect for himself and others. He didn't deserve the punishment that he got . . . why did he have to be taken away from his family so horribly?"

Younger sister Jennifer Moana labelled Poata's actions a "big mistake" - "that he has to live with for the rest of his life".

"But what has been done is done and nothing will change that. Jimmy will always be a part of us as he lives in the minds and hearts of us and children that he left behind."

Patricia Moana said her brother was brought up differently - as a "native" - by their grandmother, who was "old school" and lived using older traditions, which didn't include electricity.

Instead, Moana was charged with chopping firewood for heating and lighting the coal range for hot water for baths and hot drinks.

Instead of a playground with friends, her brother played on the nearby railway trucks under Taupiri mountain.

Moana spent the last 20 years living on the streets, in and out of jail, but was never hurt until he came back to civilisation, she said.

"It was the simple things in life that he appreciated.

"Jimmy lived like a survivor and that's what he was to me."

Waikato Times