Moko marchers had experienced abuse

Moko marchers had experienced abuse

Many at today's marches against child violence had their own stories of abuse.

Te Rata Hikairo says he was abused by his mother and grandmother and feels let down by adults who never alerted the authorities about what he thought was normal.

A man who was abused as a child says it's up to adults to speak up for those children who can't.

Te Rata was abused as a child and knows only too well what that fear and pain feels like.

"To see rage, like a killer sort of look, in those eyes and they're going to smack you with an axe handle."

He suffered at the hand of his mother in a cycle of abuse that spanned two generations. His grandmother killed his uncle at just 18 months old, and his mother was convicted on three counts of abuse for what she did to him and his siblings.

Te Rata thought it was the norm, but that didn't make his upbringing any less harrowing.

"Very hard to watch my sister having her head kicked in, very hard to watch my brother be tied up and be sat on -- very hard to go through that."

When Te Rata was 11, the abuse finally stopped after he told a teacher and was placed in Child Youth and Family's care.

He considers himself lucky. He says he's not a victim because he survived and is here to tell his story today.

"Moko, my heart is broken for you, so I've got one hand for Moko for whom we march today."

His main message for abuse victims is to do exactly what he did all those years ago -- to raise your voice and get help.

"If I didn't speak up as an 11-year-old to my deputy principal, I don't know if I would. Why weren't the adults around?"

Now Te Rata is himself a schoolteacher, but he likes to refer to himself as a survivor and a conqueror.


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