NZ mother ‘drowned’ during Maori exorcism
A New Zealand family drowned a young mother by pouring water down her throat during a Maori exorcism, a court heard today.
Janet Moses, 22, died after family members poured water down her throat and into her eyes in an attempt to lift a curse on her, the High Court in Wellington, the capital, was told.
Ms Moses’ 14-year-old cousin also had her eyes gouged and water poured down her throat during the same ceremony.
Six women and three men, all members of Ms Moses’ family, are charged with manslaughter.
The family had become convinced that Ms Moses had been placed under a curse, or makutu, in which an evil spirit takes over a person’s body, as punishment after her sister stole a lion statue from a local pub.
A tribal elder, or kaumatua, had told them Ms Moses would not get well until the statue was returned. However when she coninued acting strangely after the family took the statue back, they decided to heal her themselves, Ms Feltham said.
The Times explains: Makatu, a belief in the occult, is a custom that dates back to Polynesian ancestors of the Maoris. Used as a means of enforcing the Maori code of law, it is still a potent force in modern Maori society. Believers think an evil spirit will leave a body it has possessed if they scratch the eyes of the victim and flush the spirit out with water<
Alleged exorcism death trial starts in Wellington, New Zealand
Moses is believed to have drowned during the apparent exorcism at her grandparents’ home in Wainuiomata in October 2007 while around 40 members of her family looked on.
They took Janet to a tiny Wanuiomata house where they began a water-cleansing ceremony that lasted three days.
Water passed hand to hand from the kitchen tap and poured for hours down her throat until the house was flooded and Janet lay dead.
After a seven-week investigation police arrested the accused.
Justice Simon France told the jurors the trial was not about whether or not they believed in exorcism.
It was whether an unlawful act had been committed.
Woman Had Water Poured In Eyes, Down Throat During Ceremony
It started with prayers and karakia, but eventually turned more intense, with family members shouting “get out” and “leave her alone” to purge the demon from Ms Moses, she said.
Water was then poured on Ms Moses’ face, down her throat and into her eyes.
At times she was restrained and if she tried to break free, the restraining was increased, Ms Feltham said.
On the morning of October 12, Ms Moses died from drowning.
During the ceremony, other members of the family were also believed to have become possessed by the curse and were also cleansed.
A 14-year-old girl had her eyes gouged and water poured down her throat, Ms Feltham said.
On behalf of the 10 accused and their lawyers, defence lawyer Mike Antunovic said the family believed they were trying to help Ms Moses.
The family believed Ms Moses was actually possessed, he said.
None of the accused were acting with any criminal intent.
The trial is set down for four to six weeks.
• Deliver us from evil: Exorcisms in demand
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