Police and a team of forensics at the Ruakākā property which is at the centre of the double homicide. Photo / Tania Whyte
The Ruakākā community came together to mourn and grieve the tragic deaths of two children in the township.
Community members united in grief and support on Tuesday evening at the SafeMan Safe Family office in Ruakākā after facilitator Phil O’Keeffe Paikea helped organise a space in the community where people affected by Monday’s tragedy could gather.
Paikea said it was an amazing event where the company came together in numbers, with more than 200 people turning up – high numbers that showed just how much the community was hurting.
‘’It was about bringing the community together. It was a great evening. We had people turning up who had lived in this community for years but not met others there,’’ he said.
‘’This was about bringing people together, even if they were strangers, and have them leaving as friends.’’
He said four karakia were performed at the start of the meeting – paying homage to the east, the west, the north and the south – with speeches also from district councillor Ken Couper, Deb Harding and Hira Gage from the Ministry of Education.
‘’It was a good meeting for the people to come together – everybody, Māori, Pakeha, young the old, it was amazing to see and the feeling was exceptional.’’
It was something the community asked for,Paikea said.
“It’s just somewhere to go, somewhere to talk to each other, console each other, karakia and sing a waiata or two.”
Paikea said the community had been reflecting heavily on what could have been done better, or how they could have had better engagement as they grappled with feelings of “tragedy and loss”.
The double homicide had hit hard as anything involving “little children, defenceless children” would, he said.
“Everyone is feeling it.”
A woman facing murder charges after the deaths of the two children in Ruakākā, has been granted interim name suppression.
No plea was taken when the woman appeared in the Whangārei District Court yesterday, flanked by a public gallery full of wailing family and friends.
Emotions ran high as she took the dock and threw kisses at her close family members sitting in the front row of the public gallery. The woman was visibly distressed and looked up and moved from side to side before she calmed down shortly after the proceedings began.
She was flanked by three security officers while court security and police kept a close eye on the proceedings. Some of her family members left the courtroom in tears midway through the case.
Judge Gene Tomlinson remanded her in custody without pleas to appear in the High Court at a later date.
Meanwhile, a family friend of the Ruakākā whānau rocked by the deaths has described seeing the “lovely kids” the day before they died.
The local man, who goes by the name of Bluey, was still in shock after learning children had been found dead in the Peter Snell Dr home on Monday.
Police were called to the property at around 6.25am on Monday where officers discovered the children’s bodies.
Bluey said the children were “lovely” and “good” kids.
He had known the family for two years and would enjoy a cup of tea almost daily with the children’s grandfather.
“To see the kids gone, I just don’t believe because I see the kids every day,” he said.
The last time he saw the youngsters was the day before the tragedy unfolded.
Bluey said there had been “no sign” anything was out of the ordinary while having a cuppa at the family’s home on Sunday morning.
“It’s terrible because everybody knew them…I don’t want to believe it,” Bluey said.
Local man Alan Smith described the news as “tragic”.
”I’m just flabbergasted that it can really happen,” he said.
A cordon remained in place on Tuesday blocking access to the home where the children were found. A team of forensics is on site carrying out a scene examination.
Ruakākā Primary School lowered its flag on Tuesday morning in recognition of the children’s deaths. In a post shared online, the school said an assembly was held where they shared a karakia and waiata as well as speaking to pupils about looking after friends who feel sad.
Detective Inspector Bridget Doell, of Northland CIB, said the situation was “extremely distressing” for the family involved, as well as first responders who attended the scene.
“Police and Victim Support have been working closely to support all those involved in this tragic event.”
Doell said police would continue to support the Ruakākā community through the “understandably difficult time”. This included a bolstered police presence in the area in the following days.
“We continue to encourage the Northland community to look out for one another and seek further assistance from support agencies if needed.”