Ewen Macdonald told the Parole Board he had changed and could now put himself in his victims' shoes.
But a forensic psychiatrist ended his hopes of early release last week by saying his narcissistic personality traits meant that change was unlikely to be genuine.
The Parole Board has released its written reasons for declining parole at a hearing at Christchurch Mens' Prison on November 25.
It was the second time Macdonald had sought parole during a jail term imposed for a destructive spree around Feilding.
He was described as a polite and compliant minimum-security prisoner, who had stayed out of trouble inside jail.
He told the board he was jealous and was seeking revenge when he burned down a homestead and vandalised Scott Guy's home. But he had changed, he said, and was now sorry and "sickened" by what he had done.
However a forensic psychiatric report, ordered following his first failed parole bid in December last year, painted a different picture.
It said he had a "significant personality disturbance" and a history of deceptive and secretive behaviour, driven by his motivation to get away with things.
Despite rating a low risk for future reoffending, the report said assessment tools were prone to underestimating risk in people with "over-controlled personalities and/or psychopathic traits".
An apparent change after brief treatment did not match his personality, the report said.
"Motivation by revenge and a disinhibition by narcissistic personality traits are characteristically resistant to change."
After seeking release to Fielding at his first parole hearing, Macdonald sought this time to live in Christchurch, where he had secured a "handshake offer" of work in a firework yard.
The person he would live with had visited him regularly in prison, and the address had been approved.
The board's concerns included limited support in the area, and a lack of detail about the job offer.
Macdonald had offered to be subjected to GPS monitoring, an overnight curfew and a ban on entering the North Island, but the board said that was not enough.
"Given his personality profile, we wonder whether any plan, with any number of conditions, or any additional therapy, is sufficient to address his assessed risk."
Macdonald's five-year sentence for theft, intentional damage and arson ends on April 6, 2016.
He pleaded guilty to vandalising Scott and Kylee Guy's new house, slaughtering 19 calves with a hammer, stealing and killing two trophy stags, emptying a neighbour's milk vat, and burning down a 110-year-old whare.
He was acquitted of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy.