WARNING: STRONG LANUAGE:

On August 10, 2015 Faraniko Pei blasted holes into the Highbury and Palmerston North Central police stations. He had decided to take matters into his own hands after watching his sister come close to death in her hospital bed.

Frustrated with the care she was receiving under the Midcentral District Health Board, Pei took a 12-gauge shotgun and fired two shots into the Highbury Police Station. He then drove to the central station, walked up to the public counter and fired two shots into a glass partition, just metres from a non-uniformed constable manning the front counter.

Pei then walked outside and fired two more shots into the outer glass doors. He was then pursued by police to Whanganui and back again. He was eventually arrested at his home.

At the beginning of the month, Pei was sentenced to five years and 10 months' imprisonment for his crimes. His sister Edna today speaks to media for the first time about her family's harrowing journey.

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A LONG STRUGGLE

Enda Pei spent long stints in and out of hospital since the age of 5. Doctors put it down to severe asthma but, at the age of 11, she was finally diagnosed with bronchiectasis.

"It basically means there's a bunch of holes in your lungs and it breeds bacteria," she said. "My lungs at the time were similar to a 70-year-old's who had smoked all their life."

Every year around October Edna would be hospitalised for an infection and, by her early 20s, these infections became more regular.

"By my thirties it was normal for me to pack my bags and no one would see me for two weeks."

She said it was at this time Faraniko, who had just had his first child, became more interested in her condition.

"He began to ask, 'oh, why are you taking this, didn't they give you something else last week?'"

As the years went on and Edna was unable to drive herself to the hospital, she would ask Faraniko for a ride.

"He would ask me if I wanted him to come in and wait but everyone knows what A and E is like ... I had sheltered my family from a lot up to that time."

In 2015 Edna's health hit crisis point and she was admitted to the intensive care unit, three times in three months.

"I came in on the Thursday and woke up on the Wednesday ... this was the year everyone was like, 'Okay, this is getting serious'."

She remembers snippets of her ordeal and one constant was Faraniko at her side.

"When I woke it was Niko who was there telling me I'll be really weak, it'll be a while till I get moving. I actually woke up and thought, shit this is not good."

There were moments of vulnerability that Edna said she shared only with her brother.

"He had seen the low of the low of the care that I'd ever had previously. And he too had seen some really vulnerable moments that were out of character for me."

Edna said she struggled having to depend on others to fluff her pillow, wipe her tears or blow her nose.

"To see me like that, I didn't even know what I was crying for a lot of the time. I would cry to him, I would say, 'I'm scared, I'm really scared' ... I don't even know if I'm weeing, my catheter hurts so much, I don't know if I'm pissing the bed or what.

"I would say, 'Niko I shat the bed how many times today'. And I'd said to him that if I ever got to the point that I can't look after myself then I want someone to put me to sleep permanently."

Edna and Faraniko's conversations also touched on the public health system.

"I said to him this health system sucks, you have to fight for everything. I'd been into Winz for something leading up to this - anyone would think the money is coming straight out of their own pockets - and to be told by a someone behind the counter that, no, they won't pay for this but, then they don't give you any other options.

"Isn't it funny how an individual has the power to belittle you in such a way you think you have no other options?"

Faraniko Pei was sentenced to five years and 10 months' imprisonment for his crimes. Photo / Supplied
Faraniko Pei was sentenced to five years and 10 months' imprisonment for his crimes. Photo / Supplied
LAST RESORT

Faraniko could not sit back and watch his sister suffer any longer. On August 10 after a long and emotional day, he went to the Palmerston North Central Police Station to make a complaint. Edna said he was laughed off, and the police did not believe he had genuine concerns.

"I had a nurse come up and say 'oh, the police called to confirm you existed ... she told me Niko had made a complaint but they didn't believe him."

He had not told Edna of his intentions but, looking back, she said she can now see key events that contributed to his actions.

"He was taken on face value ... he would've been so rejected in the sense that he knew he genuinely had a concern. In that time I almost died three times, our sister had cancer and we were awaiting a new baby, Niko's son, who he has only just met for the first time on Saturday.

"So for him, an Islander male, to put differences aside and to have gone in and be rebuffed like that is ultimately rejection of, 'oh, my god, I went into bat for someone and what, you think I'm making it up?'"

She said after leaving the police station, she believed Faraniko replayed the preceding fortnights' events and, combined with no sleeping or eating, made the decision to take his actions further.

"For him to have gone to the length that he went to, really he should have died that night. For police not to have done anything to him physically ... I have no idea how no one died."

She said her brother was not the person portrayed in news articles but rather, was a silent, gentle and loving father of four, who had made a bad decision.

Edna said on the day of the shooting, Faraniko had also asked her about the possibility of a transplant and they had agreed she was going to speak to someone about it.

THE JOURNEY TO GET NEW LUNGS

Edna said Faraniko's actions had a ripple-effect on the hospital.

"By this time I was getting what I requested. Niko's actions had shone a light on me but, I think it was because I was in the too-hard basket."

She managed to get a consultation with her physician in October 2015 and he reluctantly agreed to send a referral on Edna's behalf to see if she was eligible for a transplant.

"I had to even fight to get that consultation. I was always fighting with someone. It was like we shouldn't have been having that conversation ... or he thought I had undermined all the work we had done. I said to him, you're oath is to give me the utmost care and I don't feel I've got that."

Three weeks later she received the call she thought would never come. Greenlane Hospital's transplant team wanted to meet her.

So in November she flew to Auckland and, after a rigorous evaluation, was told 'yes', she would qualify.

"There were moments in there where we would say, 'oh, Niko would be pretty stoked', but I would say well he's in jail, what can we do. We've already cried hours and hours."

In February, Edna was back in Auckland for physical tests and was then put on the inactive waiting list.

"My heart was playing up at the time, it was enlarged on the right side ... I thought I'd die of heart attack, not the breathing issues I'd been facing the last 30 years. Wouldn't that just shit ya [sic]."

Then Edna began wondering why it took so long to look at transplants as an option.

"I got mad; could things have been avoided?"

In June last year, Edna became ill again and returned to the ICU for more than week. But almost a year after Niko's incident, she received a new set of lungs.

"It was a hard month. Of course, it didn't go smoothly, it was really, really tough and it's not for the faint-hearted. There was one day where I thought 'just kill me, kill me now' because the pain was so bad."

But Edna said her quality of life, which had been non-existent, was now worlds apart from her previous life.

"My quality of life is amazing, absolutely amazing. I just want to go to school discoes, first birthdays, first days of schools and I'll be there waiting when Faraniko walks out.

"I'm very thankful to my donor and her family every day."