Maori King's son in court
A devastated Maori king has spoken publicly about his son's behaviour as he this morning pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and the theft of surfboards.
The younger of the king's two sons, Korotangi Paki, 18, was studying at the Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Art and Design in Gisborne when he and three other men broke into a property and took the surfboards early this year.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary and one of theft from a car when he appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning. He was remanded on bail for sentencing in July.
He was supported in court by the king's representative Tukoroirangi Morgan, but not his father.
Paki left the court quickly and his lawyer Paul Wicks said there would be no comment.
However, the normally media-shy and a visibly disappointed King Tuheitia spoke exclusively with Fairfax Media on Friday ahead of the court appearance in the hope his son would get back on the right track.
"I just think of all of the things we are trying to achieve and what he just did was . . . it really hurt," King Tuheitia said.
They were taken into custody by police on the night of the incident and he called his father the following day.
The Maori monarch was angered by the news and although his first reaction was to shield his son from the consequences, he recognised his son had to be responsible for his actions.
"As a father I still love him," he said.
"I'll do anything for my children, the same as what I am trying to achieve with my tribe and the Kingitanga."
King Tuheitia was visibly upset as he sat by his son in the main chambers of Turangawaewae House in Ngaruawahia as he spoke of the pain his whanau had been through.
Paki said he realised what he had done was wrong at the time but it was too late by then and he would have to suffer the consequences.
He apologised to his father for the embarrassment he had caused.
Morgan said the whanau would accept whatever sentence was handed down by the courts but the iwi had put in place their own strategy for the four men to seek redemption.
That included a face-to-face meetings with the victims and a formal apology, community work, volunteering their time to mentor Maori school children and a donation.
King Tuheitia said he wanted his children to have a normal childhood and get a good start in life, and he tried to shelter them from undue pressures of the Kingitanga.
"I just let them live their life, go to school and do everything that a normal child does," he said.
"My mother said to us, we were just normal kids until she wanted something and then we were there."
In 2011, Paki faced boy-racer charges after the Mitsubishi Lancer he drove lost traction and crashed into a power pole in Huntly. Witnesses said he was lucky to survive.
King Tuheitia said his son had gone "off the rails" but he would soon be a first-time father and it was time to redeem himself.
He promised to support his son but said he could not live his life for him.
"I think Korotangi has learnt his lesson," he said.
"I think he knows what he has put me through now.
"I know he won't be doing anything else."