The man shot dead by police in South Auckland had lived in Australia since he was six months old – and his family intend bringing him “home” to Sydney where he will be laid to rest.
His mother, Moana Taverio, told the Herald the “501” deportee had struggled for four years to fit into New Zealand.
“He had lived all his life being Australian.”
She said her son, Tangaru Noere Turia – known by the family name Taverio in Australia – had left Australia with mental health issues that had made his ability to integrate with New Zealand ever harder.
Turia, 34, died on Thursday night after police were called to Avis Ave, Papatoetoe after a shot was fired through a neighbour’s window. When police attended, Superintendent Jill Rogers said Turia came out of the house “brandishing” a shotgun.
Police fired three shots, fatally wounding Turia. He was taken to Middlemore Hospital but died around 10.30pm.
Turia leaves behind a grieving family in Australia, including three children, aged 7, 8 and 14.
He was the eldest of Taverio’s five children.
Taverio said the family was intending to bring his body to Australia. “We have made plans. We’re going to bring him home.”
Taverio said the night her son died, he had spoken to his 14-year-old son by Facetime.
“He was just trying to let the son know, ‘I love you – I love you so much’.
“He didn’t realise [at the time] that was the last conversation he would have with his dad.”
Taverio said the boy’s mother, to whom her son remained connected although separated, was present for the call and had passed on the details.
And, while assuring the boy of his love for him, she said the mood of the conversation was light.
“They were laughing. He was joking around with them.”
Taverio said Turia had also asked that his former partner and son pose for a selfie and send it to him.
In the hours after the call, events took a turn that led to Turia’s death.
The confrontation with police came four years after Turia was deported from Australia, having had his visa cancelled over what Taverio said was a domestic violence incident.
“My son was born in New Zealand,” she said from Sydney.
“He was only six months when I got him to Australia. We have been here 30-odd years. He grew up here.”
The deportation took place under the “501” scheme, named for the section of the Australian Immigration Act introduced in 2014 that allowed visas to be stripped from those considered tohave disqualified themselves on “character” grounds.
It has resulted in a steady stream of those with New Zealand citizenship return even if their only connection was being born here.
“My son was one of many kids sent back,” said Taverio. “But he just didn’t fit into the environment. He had no idea of what to do or how to do it.
“The only connections he had was [with] the ones who get sent back because he knew them prior.”
Aware of her son’s mental health issues, Taverio tried to help in 2017 by flying to Auckland International Airport to meet Turia when he arrived in New Zealand.
But with almost all the wider family outside New Zealand, she had to return to Sydney. Even so, Taverio said she returned every year to see her son, and her elderly father who was too advanced in age to be involved in supporting Turia.
“I myself have also failed to help him. I don’t know where we went wrong.”
Taverio said Turia continued to receive mental health treatment in New Zealand, as he had in Australia, although believed it extended only to medication and not one-to-one care and management.
The mental health issues were an ever-present part of Turia’s life, she said, as evidenced by his behaviour during their daily phone calls.
“I feel for my son, for what he went through the whole time he was there. It’s all his mental state. There’s a voice always there, behind him, someone calling him a liar. He thinks everyone hates him, that everyone is after him.”
During the conversation, he would break off to speak to – or swear at – the voices.
“I can’t imagine what he was going through.”
Taverio believed the “501” deportation policy was unfair and wrong – “particularly for those with mental health problems”.
She said during the year-long detention ahead of the 2017 deportation, she had written to Australia’s immigration authorities in a bid to overturn the decision – a plea that was rejected.
“They said my son was a threat to the community. That’s not right. My son wasn’t a threat to the community.
“I just feel the Australian government has something against New Zealanders. Our people come here, make a living and they work for the taxpayer. It’s so wrong. I do feel for our Kiwi families.”
In the 2019-2020 financial year, Australia used the “501” law to revoke 1021 visas, 477 of which were held by New Zealand citizens.
Of the 1021 whose visas were revoked, the deportees included 234 with drugs offences, 100 with child sex offences, 57 convicted of rape or other sexual offences and 23 convicted of murder.
Research has found the policy disproportionately impacts on Māori or Pasifika peoples, who make up 60 per cent of deportees.
It has been reported that Turia had absconded from electronic bail at the time he was shot, waiting for sentencing on weapons charges.
A police spokeswoman said: “Mr Turia was on active charges at the time of the incident. Police will not be commenting any further on the nature of those charges or on any other specifics as the matter is now under investigation.”
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