Man in New Zealand facing charges for using bamboo cane to discipline son; defends it as 'Christian discipline'

A man from the Canterbury region in New Zealand said that he hit his children's bottoms with a bamboo cane when they misbehaved because it's what his Christian faith taught him to do.

A boy runs down a sand dune in Encinitas, California January 13, 2009. | REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE

According to Stuff, the man, whose name has not been disclosed, is facing charges at the Timaru District Court for assault, having caned his hyperactive son as a disciplinary measure. He told Judge Joanna Maze that he wanted to give the 13-year-old boy "a lasting impression of the discipline that I was giving him." He reportedly rediscovered his Christian faith in 2014, and that he loves his kids and "I want them to be Christians as well."

"I follow the Bible and the Bible overrules those laws, I'm afraid," the man told the court on Friday, referrring to the Crimes Act.

The man told the court that repeated canings was "not my way, it's God's way." Police prosecutor Simon Heeley asked if it was God doing it or if it was the defendant, to which the man replied that he's not sure if it's a fair question. Heeley asked who was hitting the child with a stick.

"I was," the man replied.

The man said that he was afraid that his son, who had been expelled from school a few times, was going to "end up being a career criminal" so he disciplined him, which included confiscating his playthings. One of the canings happened after the boy poked holes at a plant worth $2,000.

Jay Lovely, the man's defence lawyer, cited that the Crimes Act lets parents use reasonable force to keep their child from "engaging or continuing to engage in disruptive behaviour."

The Crimes Amendment Act 2007 substituted Section 59, and it says of parental control, "Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances."

In part, it can be used for the purpose of preventing harm to the child or another person, for keeping the child from engaging in conduct that amounts to criminal offense, and for preventing the child from engaging in disruptive behaviour.

Heeley, however, argued that it did not allow canings.

Also, the defendant said that he used a cane because he did not want his kids to be afraid of his hands when he wanted to give them a cuddle. In a recorded phone call, however, the man reportedly told his former partner that he used a cane so as not to hurt his hand.

The man is on bail, to be back in court on June 23.