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Acceptable cultural killings?

  • November 15th, 2007

According to the DomPost “Police have sought legal and cultural advice to decide the culpability of those involved in the [Wainuiomata makutu cleansing] ceremony. They say the question remains whether the cultural practices were acceptable, or whether those who ran the ceremony had gone too far.”

A poor woman allegedly dies of drowning after being held down and pumped full of water, and the Police  wonder whether it was “acceptable”. What would go too far?Surely they mean they are not sure whether they can establish the necessary intent to make murder stick, instead of manslaughter.

I long for the day when using the word “unacceptable” (or ” inappropriate”) will  bury the utterer in derision.


  • Graeme
  • November 15th, 2007
  • 4:22 pm

It’s not necessarily stupid to get legal advice over this, the last death during exorcism case in New Zealand was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Whilst you can’t consent to death in New Zealand, there was the possibility that should have been been considered by the jury that the “victim” had consented to a risk of death which was caused without illegal act. If I was a cop I’d want to know what effect all that might have on the instant case too.

  • Phoenixer
  • November 16th, 2007
  • 12:00 pm

If you consent to exorcism you are clearly not in posession of your faculties so can’t be knowingly consenting to the risk of death.
Awaiting the homicide charges.


I agree Graeme. My reaction is not to the delay and the careful consideration – it was the bizarre neutrality in the explanation attributed to the Police.
To me it is clear that the “cultural practice in “unacceptable” and of course it “went too far”.
Nevertheless it may still not be criminal, because of the absence of guilty intent. Quite properly.
That does not mean anyone, Police included, need pretend that it could be innocuous just because it may not be illegal.

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