Father of baby Mustafa says he didn't have phone to call ambulance before son died in Te Kūiti

Baby Mustafa Ali was farewelled with a funeral service at a church in Te Kūiti on Thursday, five days after dying at his home in what police are investigating as a homicide.

About 100 people gathered at a rural cemetery outside of Te Kūiti, arriving in a slow convoy from the church. 

"Many people came, a lot of people, the families and friends, a lot of people were there," Mustafa's dad Mukzameel Ali told Newshub.

Five days after news of 10-month-old Mustafa Ali's death rocked the small King Country community of Te Kūiti, and as a homicide inquiry continues, they gathered to say goodbye.

With blue and white balloons on a Presbyterian church, it was a Samoan farewell for a little boy whose death united two cultures in grief.

The baby's 22-year-old father says he is alone.

"I don't have my family to support me, they're back home," he said. "I feel very lonely, yeah."

His uncle, Abdul, who got him a job at the meat processing plant when he arrived from Fiji two years ago, is his only family here.

Ali was alone with his son at home when he says the baby choked - but he couldn't call for help.

"He choked while he was having his bottle of milk, I was so panicked, I didn't have my phone to call the ambulance," he said.

Ali denied hurting the baby when asked directly.

"No, I was trying my best to save my son. Why would I hurt my son? He was my first son." 

Ali says his relationship with Mustafa's mother had its ups and downs but was good. She was not home when he alleges the baby choked, and he tried to administer CPR.

"Things have changed. It's very hard. I haven't seen her for five days. Haven't talked, anything. I'm just alone here at home."

A mix of local Samoan families with young kids along with Muslim friends and family of the father were in attendance for the funeral on Thursday.

Several friends of the father had made the trip from Auckland. One small child could be heard saying "bye Mustafa" as he ran across the lawn during the burial. 

Te Kūiti church.
The scene from outside Mustafa Ali's funeral. Photo credit: Newshub.

His funeral was able to happen after police gave his body back to the family having had the post-mortem completed following the "violent, blunt force trauma" said to have caused his death.

Ali said he was the only one home prior to his son being rushed to hospital. He denies involvement, earlier telling Stuff Mustafa was choking and he tapped his son's back "a little" to wake him.  

"I didn't do anything wrong, because I was trying to save my son," Mukzameel said.

At the funeral, a man from the local mosque told Newshub he was unhappy with a reporter who spoke to the family and appeared to have made an assumption that Mukzameel killed Mustafa. He said people should allow the police to finish their investigation instead of drawing their own conclusions.

Landlord Moshif Hussein told Newshub the 22-year-old father was a tenant in the Meads St home with his young wife, his older relative and another friend.