Domestic violence survivors find comfort in each other

Two whanau whose lives have been shattered by high-profile, horrific cases of domestic violence are drawing strength and comfort from one another.

Once strangers, tragedy has brought them together - and they spoke to Three's The Hui.

Jason Koroheke's 22-year-old daughter Chozyn was murdered by her former partner, Turiarangi Tai, last April, and Marie Harlick's niece Marie was brutally assaulted to death by her ex-boyfriend Robert Hohua in November 2016.

Now Jason and Marie are speaking out in the hope that they can help other families and victims caught in a dangerous relationship.

"At least with Marie I have got words for her, and she's got words for me because we've been down the same road and unless you've been down that road what do you say to someone? There are no words," says Jason.

Remarkably, Chozyn's two children would bring these families together.

"I met Chozyn one time at the daycare. She came in and she brought the children in. She was beautiful, Chozyn was beautiful, so I actually got to meet her," says Marie Harlick.

In April 2017, 23-year-old Turiarangi Tai shot his on-again, off-again girlfriend Chozyn in the stomach with a 12-gauge shotgun. Tai would go on the run for two weeks, not knowing if Chozyn had lived or died.

"He did what he did and then he calmly left the house, went up the road to the garage, got himself some gas, some cigarettes and then he used her money card to pay for it. Like nothing had happened," Jason remarks.

Tai was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He'll be 40 before he's eligible to seek parole.

"He was on a one-way track to where he's ended up now anyway, he just happened to run into my daughter unfortunately," Jason adds.

A year on, Jason and his wife Nadine are concentrating on raising Chozyn's two children, aged five and three. But the tragic death of their only daughter still haunts them.

"You don't make peace with yourself, you never make peace with yourself. You take this box and you put all the bad stuff that happened with Chozyn and the stuff to do with that and you put it in a box and you lock it and you put it away in your mind. That's the only way I can deal with it, because if I don't lock it away and have it around me all the time I'm a goner," he says.

Fifty-five-year-old Marie Harlick is also the legal guardian of her niece Marie's youngest daughter, who was just 19 months old when Robert Hohua savagely attacked her mother in front of her.

Harlick's work with Women's Refuge in south Auckland has helped her better understand how women like Chozyn and Marie become trapped in violent relationships.

"It's challenging trying to help someone who feels totally worthless. I'm not very good in healing in myself, I manage myself, but when I can reach out to someone like Jason and say 'I know', that's all I have to say," she says.

If you have witnessed or experienced harassment or assault and would like to speak to someone, try Women's Refuge, Shine or the police.

The Hui