King's son apologises to victims

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014
Korotangi Paki
PETER DRURY

ROYALTY: King Tuheitia and his son Korotangi Paki.

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Fury over the Maori King's son avoiding conviction for a series of crimes appears to have receded but there is still work to do to regain the faith of his iwi.

Korotangi Paki, the second-eldest son of Maori King Tuheitia, and his accomplices in a theft and burglary have since met their victims and apologised.

Paki, 19, who faced an additional charge of drink-driving; Te Ahorangi Totorewa, 20; Hamuera Wipoha Pugh, 19; and Raa Ngaru Smith, 18, were all granted discharges without conviction, causing outrage around the country.

The Crown Law Office was last week considering appealing the decision.

The group were halfway through restoration programme Mana Tangata when they appeared in court.

A progress report supplied to the Waikato Times by the Office of the King in Turangawaewae showed that after five weeks of voluntary work they had apologised to the victims, created art pieces for koha and took part in junior rugby league and mentoring.

Paki is an art student at Toihoukura school of art with Totorewa, Pugh and Smith.

Robyn Smith from Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou facilitated a meeting between Paki and the victims in Gisborne.

During the meeting Paki said the thefts were a "stupid mistake" and apologised.

"I am sorry for putting this on you, for putting a dark cloud over you and your family," he said.

One of the victims said they would beef up security at their home and hoped Paki learned his lesson, before giving him marlin bills to carve.

"Perhaps, rather than an art piece, I would like to provide you with some game swordfish or marlin bills to carve for me to put on the wall of my place of business."

Another victim asked that Paki write a progress report after 12 months, something he committed to do for each victim.

Paki and his accomplices stole surfboards from Whakatane High School students who were staying at a Waikanae holiday park. He had created a piece of art for the school in reparation.

The group also travelled with whanau to the school, where they each offered an apology to staff and students and gave a taonga called Whakapapa Pounamu.

They are under a 7pm-7am curfew which had hampered their participation in Maori weaponry lessons and learning karakia, but tikanga adviser Tei Nikorima's letter of support said the relationship was ongoing and they had learned basic life skills.

In separate letters, sports co-ordinator Herewini Rangi said the four young men spent five days in March and April as officials in a primary school rugby league event.

Kororia Matahiki from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Uri a Maui said they were thankful for the work the four had done on six new kowhaiwhai panels.

"[We] wish them well in their journey of restoring credibility and integrity for their future prospects." 

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