Phil Taylor is a Weekend Herald and New Zealand Herald senior staff writer.

Petition for increasing compensation to Teina Pora

Mr Pora was twice wrongly convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett. Photo / Michael Craig
Mr Pora was twice wrongly convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett. Photo / Michael Craig

An Auckland man who spent more than four years in hospital has started a petition calling on the Government to increase the compensation payment to Teina Pora.

Mr Pora was twice wrongly convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett.

Andrew Fiu, a motivational speaker, said he set up a petition on Change.Org calling for the Government to rethink the take-it-or-leave-it offer because he thought it was "mean-spirited".

"I've had nothing to do with Teina Pora, but I was incensed by the whole thing," Mr Fiu said. "There needs to be some kind of parity. It just seemed mean-spirited."

The Government offered Mr Pora -- who spent more than 21 years in jail -- $2.5 million. It did not follow a recommendation to allow for inflation, which could add up to another $2 million.

By age 17, the age Mr Pora was when charged, Mr Fiu, from Manukau City, had had two of six open-heart surgeries that have seen him spend more than four years in hospital. Mr Fiu said he knows what it is like to be contained, even though his treatment was life- affirming.

"I had options even as a sick kid. I had doctors and nurses looking after me ... giving me books. That's not like a jail cell and everyone looking down on you and thinking that you are scum."

Mr Fiu said he hoped there would be "a groundswell of opinion against giving him the minimum. It is not whether you are brown or white. Cabinet needs to do the right thing."

In his report this month, Government-appointed retired High Court judge Rodney Hansen, QC, dismissed the prosecution case and said Mr Pora could have proved his innocence to a higher standard than required to qualify for compensation.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has apologised to Mr Pora and said that the Crown accepts he is innocent.

The Government has agreed to pay Mr Pora the $2.5 million and let him decide whether to ask the court to review the matter.

Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan has said it was unfair to use the guidelines without adjusting for inflation.

"In today's figures it's worth less than what it would have been in 1998 when these guidelines were drawn up," he told Radio New Zealand.

"So in 1998 we felt it was fair that people should get $100,000 for every year they spend in prison when they are innocent of a crime. Well, in 2016 that $100,000 is worth quite a lot more than that now."

Ms Adams said the Government could have paid more for inflation, but it wanted to follow the guidelines as they had been used in previous compensation payments.

• The Change.Org Petition can be found here:

- NZ Herald

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