LA Tukerangi's parents focus on what lies ahead for their daughter

By Harata Brown

The family of Dean Whakatau continue to claim that 15-year-old LA Tukerangi was not kidnapped and hope Whakatau doesn't face any charges after Tukerangi’s family received messages from LA saying she was being held against her will.

Tukerangi's parents spoke to media this morning. They say they are working towards healing from what they describe as a traumatic experience.

LA Tukerangi's parents fronted today expressing their relief that their daughter is home and safe.

Chris Tukerangi says, "You know when your daughter has gone through some hard times like that, it would be silly to say. 'What did you do, What went wrong?”    

Meanwhile Dean Whakatau is hoping their family name is cleared of any kidnapping allegations regarding LA Tukerangi.  

His uncle, Charlie Whakatau says,"Yes most definitely, for our surname, 'Whakatau' as well as our nephew"

Father Chris Tukerangi said they acted on the messages received from their daughter that she was being held against her will.

Charlie Whakatau says that the pair were at his Rotomā home last week and there was no indication that was the case.

Whakatau also says he last saw LA Tukerangi at the Opotiki Police station when his nephew, 36-year-old Dean gave himself up to police.

Charlie Wakatau says, "They said they were going to put her in CYF, Youth and Child. That was last Friday and I haven't heard anything since" 

LA Tukerangi is preparing to attend support services through (Manukau Urban Māori Authority) MUMA's Whanau Ora contract which helps troubled teens find solutions.

MUMA worker Kylie Irwin says, "There are many sections that we will be entertaining and looking at for LA to look at following her passions within". 

LA’s mother Marie says, "We don't have all the answers that you want, we don't want to ask our daughter you know it's really sensitive, we're just so overwhelmed by the support".  

Police say it's not known how long the investigation will take to complete, Dean Whakatau remains in custody on 3 counts of unrelated burglary charges and will appear in the Rotorua District Court on 17 August.