Thirteen years after she was jailed for the death of her toddler niece Lillybing, Te Rerekino Harawera-Namana has received a home detention sentence for an $82,000 benefit fraud.
Ironically, the benefit fraud involved Harawera-Namana claiming a solo mother benefit for a daughter who had been taken away from her at birth.
The dishonesty went on from 2008 to 2013. Harawera-Namana was paid $82,000 but the Ministry of Social Development acknowledges that if she had claimed an unemployment benefit during that period she would have been entitled to $49,000.
Christchurch District Court Judge Gary MacAskill is seeking more information from the ministry’s prosecutor, Richard Williams, but the judge seems likely to confirm a $33,000 reparation order.
Harawera-Namana, now aged 43, is now living in Christchurch where she has the support of the Richmond Fellowship, psychiatric services, and other agencies.
Defence counsel Josh Lucas said she was undergoing a long term rehabilitation programme but had “turned a corner” with her life.
She was jailed in 2014 on a charge of wounding with intent to injure, and released in January. Judge MacAskill reduced her sentence becaue of that jail term, saying it would have been more satisfactory if the offences had been dealt with at the same time.
A social welfare investigation was already under way at the time of that sentencing and Hawera-Namana has since admitted seven charges of dishonestly using documents – social welfare benefit review forms – and one of obtaining a benefit by deception.
She was known as Patricia Dawn Rachealle Namana at the time of the death of her 23-month-old niece, Hinewaioriki Karaitiana-Matiaha (Lillybing) in Carterton in the Wairarapa in 2000.
The girl had died after being beaten, scalded, and then shaken by her aunt. According to the police, she suffered her injuries over a three-day period.
Harawera-Namana pleaded guilty in the Wellington Court to manslaughter, two charges of wilfully illtreating the child, and two charges of failing to provide the necessaries of life, and was jailed for six years.
Judge MacAskill sentenced her on the benefit fraud charges to 22 weeks of home detention with special conditions that she undertake a substance abuse programme as directed, and any other rehabilitation programme directed by the Richmond Fellowship.
Post-release conditions will apply for six months after the detention term ends.