⇒ This story has been corrected and updated.
Nicola Dally-Paki, the mother of the late Moko Rangitoheriri, has labelled the Health and Disabilities Commission draft report on the care received by Moko at Taupo Hospital as inadequate.
She says the hospital did not consult her about the decision to switch off Moko’s life support. The draft report also highlights a lack of sensitivity towards tikanga Māori.
The provisional decision by the Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner, Dr Vanessa Caldwell, says in its decision, “I have found that the care provided to Moko at Taupō Hospital was reasonable in the circumstances and in view of the resources available at the time of these events.”
According to the draft report, it was the Starship Pediatric Intensive Care Unit that decided to stop resuscitation efforts. Clinical records show Tania Shailer was identified as Moko’s primary caregiver and next of kin. The staff at Taupō Hospital identified that Moko required specialist pediatric care. The Starship PICU arrived at Taupō Hospital to take over care of Moko.
It’s the last point that has Dally-Paki angry, as she was at Starship at that time and no one bothered to notify her that her son was in the fight of his life.
‘No clear answer’
“The helicopter platform for Hercules is right outside the bedroom. I heard it leave; why couldn’t they just give me a seat? That was my right to turn off his life support. That wasn’t theirs.”
“I went into a rage. When you don’t understand why nobody is giving any clear answer to what’s happened or why it’s happened other than he is dead, I just went into a rage.”
According to the summary of events, at approximately 3.30 pm on August 10, 2015, three-year-old Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri was brought to Taupō Hospital ED via ambulance. Moko was accompanied by Shailer.
On examination in the ED, Moko was found to have extensive internal and external injuries and comorbidities that were suspected to be non-accidental.
The Starship Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (“PICU”) Transport Services arrived at Taupo Hospital at approximately 7:35 p.m. At 10pm the decision was made to stop resuscitation efforts.
In 2016, Shailer and then-partner David William Haerewa were sentenced to 17 years for the manslaughter of Moko Rangitoheriri, a crime that shocked the nation.
Auckland University professor and lecturer Mark Henaghan has spent over 50 years teaching law and specialises in areas where criminal law and family law intersect, such as family violence.
He says the fact that Taupō Hospital didn’t at least attempt to contact Moko’s mother is a cause for concern and could be illegal.
The Care of Children Act defines parents’ duties, powers, rights, and responsibilities as guardians of their children: Henaghan says the report states that, due to the limited number of staff on duty at the time, there was no one available to follow up on the whereabouts of Dally-Paki.
“By law, parents have the right and responsibility to make decisions about their children. We’ve had a few life support cases in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the courts have made it very clear that it’s critical to get informed consent.”
While the report admitted failings at Taupō Hospital, it says that Taupō Hospital has made drastic changes to the way it deals with Māori patients.
Both Te Whatu Ora Lakes and the HDC declined to respond to Te Ao Mārama’s requests for comment and at time of publication, we had not received a response from Starship Hospital either.
Te Whatu Ora Lakes in fact said it could not comment as the report was still before the Health and Disabilities Commissioner. A spokesperson said when the final decision was released, it would be in a better position to provide a statement.
In addition, the draft report says the writer considered it “reasonable that the Taupō Hospital did not make contact.”