16 Aug 2013

Iwi focus in abuse case turns to prevention

11:30 am on 16 August 2013

A Northland iwi leader says the focus for his community is now to make sure a case like that of paedophile James Parker can never happen again.

Parker, who was the deputy principal of Pamapuria School, was sentenced on Thursday to preventive detention, with a minimum of seven years in prison and lifelong parole.

The 38-year-old had admitted 74 charges involving 20 boys from 1999 to 2012.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chair Haami Piripi says although Parker's sentence is appropriate, the community is still healing from what he calls a tragic case.

"It's something that we are reminded of on an everyday basis so we have to live with this until the memory of it fades ... or until the tragic consequences of it begin to fade," he says.

Mr Piripi says community leaders have to do everything they can to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

"We never allow a situation like this to drift again like we allowed it to drift the last time," he says.

Mr Piripi says mainstream social services aren't always effective in Northland and the runanga plans to consider new marae-based programmes to help victims of sexual abuse.

Treatment worries raised

Sex abuse counsellor Patsy Henderson, who is working with the families of some of the abused boys, is raising concerns about how his victims will get the treatment they need in a small community like Kaitaia.

She says there is a real issue for victims who can't have treatment in their community because many will know who they are.

Ms Henderson told Morning Report some people do not feel supported and it is the responsibility of Child Youth and Family, as well as the police, to ensure they receive the help they need.

"A lot of people up there are feeling they've not got the help they want. Now that is probably because all the services have been overwhelmed by it as well," she said.

Ms Henderson says it is critical that those who are affected are supported.

She says it may be a few years before some of the victims speak out, as some will want to bury the issue for now and deal with it later.

Police praise victim

Detective Mark Dalzell, of Kaitaia's Child Protection Team, says police were finally able to stop Parker after winning the trust of his victims.

He says two boys had started to tell their stories in 2009 but then changed their minds and no charges could be laid.

However, last year one boy showed remarkable courage to come forward and stuck with his story.

"If it wasn't for him, then goodness knows where we would have been today; where this would have stopped."

Mr Dalzell says as a result police were able to talk to other victims and Parker was charged.