Maori king's son no stranger to trouble

A source says it is well known that Korotangi Paki does not want to take on any duties. Photo: NZ Herald/Brett Phibbs
A source says it is well known that Korotangi Paki does not want to take on any duties. Photo: NZ Herald/Brett Phibbs
The second son of the Maori king is known for his bad-boy antics and has been in trouble before - surviving a car crash a few years ago that should have left him dead.

Korotangi Paki this week dodged a conviction after appearing in the Auckland District Court on charges of drink driving, two counts of burglary and one of theft.

Last night he faced more backlash over derogatory comments against Asians and using the Nazi slogan "Sieg Heil" on Facebook. The page was closed yesterday.

The 19-year-old was granted a conditional discharge without conviction by Judge Philippa Cunningham, who accepted Mr Paki's lawyer's case that his client needed a clean record to be considered as an heir to the Kingitanga throne.

But a source close to the family said Mr Paki had always been a mischievous child and had never been expected to take over from his father.

The source said King Tuheitia's eldest son, Whatumoana Paki, had been groomed from a very young age to one day rule.

"Whatu was brought up to be the successor to his father and was also raised by a lot of old people in Tainui. Whereas Korotangi was the spare - and he was never expected to do anything. I think Whatu would be an ideal successor because he is a hell of a nice kid."

In 2011, Korotangi Paki was involved in a boyracer crash in the Waikato.

Witnesses said the vehicle had wrapped itself around a pole and they had expected the occupants to have been killed.

Police laid charges at the time, but it is unknown whether Mr Paki - who was 16 at the time - was ever convicted.

A spokesman for the king, Rahui Papa, said then: "He's doing well. He's alive and that's our main focus. When I see him, he's going to get a clip on his ears."

Yesterday, the source who spoke to the Weekend Herald said it was well-known that the king's younger son did not want to take on the duty.

The decision to let Mr Paki go without conviction has provoked outrage among the public, who vented their anger on social networks at the judge's decision.

A number of Facebook pages calling for justice have appeared and changes made to King Tuheitia's Wikipedia page saying the judge had been "tricked".

The case has also been criticised by some Maori outside of Tainui.

Former Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels said the decision made a mockery of the judicial system.

Mr Samuels said if a Maori youth in Tai Tokerau had committed the offences, they would have gone to jail.

"Forget about all these racial overtones. It's got nothing to do with race, but it's got something to do with status - that's all - and ego."

In sentencing, Judge Cunningham said she was "driven to the conclusion" that Mr Paki would lose out on being a successor if convicted.

It is understood affidavits given to the judge included one from King Tuheitia, who made it clear that in no way would his second son be considered to succeed him if he did not have a clean record.

"There's only two sons and in my view it's important that the king at the appropriate time has the widest possible choice of a successor and it's important for Mr Paki, as one of those two sons, to have the potential to be a successor in time."

While his drink-driving was moderately serious, Judge Cunningham said, the direct and indirect consequences of a conviction were "out of all proportion" to the offence.

Mr Samuels, a former Labour MP, criticised that logic as that of someone under "cultural hypnosis".

"You tell that to the younger generation that are in Her Majesty's Marae. The guy got off because one day he may become king.

"Well, that may be relevant to a few people in Tainui, but it's certainly not relevant at all to our young people in Ngapuhi."

David Rankin, also from Ngapuhi, said Mr Paki would not need to go through a police vetting process to become king.

"That position is about birth ... and people do grow, they mature, they do change ... he should have faced stiffer penalties and been made an example of."

Tuku Morgan, a spokesman for the King, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, he previously said that Mr Paki was treated fairly because he was dealt with under the same legal system all New Zealanders face.

Mr Paki's position meant he must bear the shame - which in the Maori world is inescapable and serious.

Before the judge's decision, defence counsel for Mr Paki, Paul Wicks QC, said the consequences of a conviction would outweigh the seriousness of the crime, because it would render the teen - who will become a father in September - ineligible for the role of king.

The police prosecutor, however, opposed a discharge without conviction, saying it would send the wrong message to society.

Mr Paki's friends - Te Ahorangi Totorewa, 20, Hamuera Wipoha Pugh, 19, and Raa Ngaru Smith, 18 - were all discharged without conviction in Gisborne District Court on Monday.

The four were charged with taking surfboards from a Top Ten Holiday Park and clothes from a man's car after a drinking session in March.

One of the victims of the crime spree, Matt Moore, manager of the Waikanae Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, said it didn't seem the young men were held to account.

"I think everyone should be held to the same standards. I was a bit surprised [with the judge's decision].

"They talked about having contacted everyone and apologised, but they didn't contact me. It was negative publicity for my business and I never heard from them."

Mana Party member and lawyer Annette Sykes said Mr Paki wasn't given preferential treatment and the discharge was appropriate.

Korotangi Paki

• Age 19. Younger son of the Maori King, Tuheitia.

• Discharged in the Auckland District Court this week on charges of drink driving, burglary and theft.

• His lawyer, Paul Wicks, QC, said Paki could succeed his father to the Maori throne only with a clean record.

NZ Justice System

Is not a justice system at all. It continuously allows young offenders who can claim some privileges to be discharged without conviction.

This boy should be facing a prison sentence and not a life of privilege.

I hope both he and his family are hanging their heads in shame but alas I fear they will be in the belief that they are above the common law.

Time we had some justice in our legal system and not an old boy net looking after its own.

 

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