Hawea Vercoe’s killer gets “joke” sentence (NZPA)

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Isaiah Tai, the man who killed Bay of Plenty regional councillor and school principal Hawea Vercoe, has today been jailed for two years and 10 months.

Tai, 21, an orchard worker from Opotiki, had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua by Justice Judith Potter this morning.

The court was packed with whanau members of both men throughout the emotionally-charged sentencing. Victim impact reports read by Mr Vercoe’s wife, mother and an aunt moved many to tears.

He died after being attacked outside a Whakatane bar last November.

Crown prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones said that although Tai had initially denied kicking Mr Vercoe in the head after punching him to the ground, he acknowledged he had done so after expert analysis of CCTV pictures of the attack.

Counsel for Tai, Paul Mabey, QC, said Tai accepted causing Mr Vercoe’s tragic death. He praised the outcome of a restorative justice conference between the two whanau.

He agreed with Mr Hollister-Jones that the attack had been alcohol-fuelled. Neither man had known the other.

Outside the court Vercoe whanau members slammed the sentence as “too light” and “a joke”.

Tai’s sister, Serena Reed, said the outcome was good for her brother.

“It has been hard for us but even harder for the Vercoes.”

Mr Vercoe, 36, was an Environment Bay of Plenty regional councillor and principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Rotoiti.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Ae, it's insane, we had a whanaunga get put away recently for 6 years for manslaughter, this was a result of several people getting into a car (all drunk) and someone being killed as a result. The alleged driver was Maori, the victim was Pakeha.

    We also know of another case of a man getting 2 years for assault…

    So aue, it's all rubbish.

  2. How shocking is that?

    Someone can kill one of your whanau member's (or anyone for that matter) and get locked up for 2 short years…. He (Tai) flat out lied and if it were'nt for the CCTV expert he would of carried on lying. Dam right this sentence is a joke, HE JUST GOT AWAY WITH HARDCORE MURDER!!!

    What's NZ's justice system coming to.

  3. omg.. nz police just didnt do enuff in this case. Judith, i wonder if you would have been so lenient in your sentencing if the 'victim' was YOUR son or daughter. george nathan (man that attacked the america's cup 15 years ago) got sentenced to 2.5 years jail. was hawea's life to be compared to an auld mug! I THINK NOT!

    wot are we all doing to our people?? why are we killing one another? what is happening to our maori race? you cant always blame it on the drink or the drugs but obviously they do come into the equation. come on whanau, haapu me nga iwi katoa. NGA RUNANGA MAORI O TE MOTU – DONT WAIT FOR WHANAU ORA.. START SOME DIALOGUE AND ACTION IN THE WHARE OF THESE WHANAU WHO HAVE BECOME THE LOWEST OF SOCIETY!! GET REFERRALS HAPPENING .. WINZ, CYPS, POLICE (wot a joke) nga kaumatua etc etc.

  4. 2YEARZ for murder.. That is dam straight wrong.. Wat the hell is the judge up2.. hmm.. i wonder how much money the judge got out of this.. FRIK!

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