18 Feb 2013

Maori culture link highlighted in Wellington judgement

8:03 pm on 18 February 2013

A High Court judge has drawn a connection between Maori cultural alienation and a Wellington homicide.

The case concerned Radio New Zealand journalist Phillip Cottrell, who died after being attacked on his way home from work in central Wellington in December 2011.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, was sentenced to 12 years and 10 months in jail for manslaughter on Friday.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Miller listed Waipuka's cultural estrangement as one of his several problems.

He said that Waipuka had no educational achievement, no connection with his Maori heritage, no meaningful history of employment and no real family support.

The judge said what Waipuka does have is a connection to the killer bees gang, a problematic pattern of alcohol and drug abuse and a substantial conviction history for a person of his age.

Justice Miller's comments follow an order by a District Court judge that Waipuka attend a course in Tikanga Maori.

That was during sentencing for an earlier charge of violence, imposed less than three weeks before Mr Cottrell's death.