Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

'I did not strike her': Former Nats minister investigated over family funeral fight

Joseph Los'e,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Jan 2024, 9:19AM

'I did not strike her': Former Nats minister investigated over family funeral fight

Joseph Los'e,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Jan 2024, 9:19AM

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air 

A former National Party government minister has been interviewed by police after a family feud turned violent as the coffin of his late mother was being carried into her Pacific Island home. 

The incident happened in the Cook Islands and local police have told the Herald five people allegedly involved are set to be re-interviewed and are likely to face charges. 

Ex-MP Alfred Ngaro’s mum Toko Kirianu died in an Auckland rest home and the whānau had taken her body back to her native Cook Islands to be buried. 

As her coffin was being carried from the hearse to the house to prepare for the next day’s burial, a fight broke out between the Ngaro siblings. Rarotongan police were called to the scene. 

A Cook Islands police spokesperson told the Herald the five people allegedly involved in the incident will be re-interviewed by police. They include Ngaro, his wife, his brother, his son and another family member. 

“Police will have met with the family, but the [alleged] victim wants all the people involved charged,” the police spokesperson said. 

“[On Tuesday] the five will be interviewed again and will be processed on various charges.” 

Ngaro said this was a dreadful situation, especially for his dad, Daniel, who was not only grieving the loss of his wife but also having to witness the fight. 

He claimed the incident, which happened in front of dozens of witnesses and was shared widely on social media, was sparked by one of his sisters. 

“My sister grabbed my wife from the back of the neck,” Ngaro, who spoke to the Herald from the Cook Islands, claimed. 

“I saw what happened, as I was carrying mum’s coffin, so I went to where this was happening.” 

Alfred Ngaro's mum Toko died just before Christmas.Alfred Ngaro's mum Toko died just before Christmas. 

“I did not strike her [the sister] but she crossed the line when she grabbed my wife,” Ngaro claimed. 

He alleged that his sister “just kept on coming kicking and screaming”. 

“My brother and I grabbed my sister. This was happening in front of everyone. We took her outside the gate and police eventually came and took her away.” 

Yesterday, a Ngaro whānau member posted a video and narrative outlining their view of the incident to Facebook. That post has created hundreds of comments. 

A fight broke out between family members as the coffin was being carried by grieving relatives.A fight broke out between family members as the coffin was being carried by grieving relatives. 

The Herald has contacted Ngaro’s sister and her whānau for comment. 

“Poor Mama Toko lying in her coffin while her full-grown sons and their tag team [allegedly] physically punching and choking their own sister,” the Facebook post claimed. 

“How disappointing and disgusting behaviour on my beautiful island Aitutaki. 

“I don’t know what the situation is they, always say theirs 2 sides to the story honestly I really don’t care nobody’s perfect [sic].” 

Alfred Ngaro.Alfred Ngaro. 

Ngaro said that when his mum fell ill late last year, he reached out to his siblings so they could unite and say their goodbyes to their mother before she died. 

“We reached out to give an opportunity for everyone to see mum. I was not there, but was told it got heated. 

“We will meet with police over the next few days to sort this matter out.” 

Following the burial of his mum, Ngaro said there was a final service on Monday, as is Cook Island custom. 

“When that finishes, we will deal with the police - it’s not what any of us wanted,” Ngaro said. 

“But this is a real shame for our whānau, and as this was out in the open, we had to explain to others what had happened and what triggered it. 

“We will let our own integrity speak for itself. We have told the police what happened and would prefer to get this sorted within the family.” 

Ngaro was a National MP from 2011 until 2020. 

In 2023 he was made leader of a new Christian party, NewZeal, but failed to win re-election. 

Joseph Los’e joined NZME in 2022 as Kaupapa Māori Editor. Los’e was a chief reporter, news director at the Sunday News newspaper covering crime, justice and sport. He was also editor of the NZ Truth and prior to joining NZME worked for 12 years for Te Whānau o Waipareira. 

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you