David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Winders family 'obsessed' with money - widow

The widow of slain roadworker George Taiaroa says the case against her husband's killer appeared rooted in a family obsession with money and a $989.50 panelbeater's bill.

Dr Helen Taiaroa said she was incredulous at the motive the Crown first put to her but became convinced when the evidence in the circumstantial case was explained.

"I wasn't sure where the Crown was going. But when you're listening, the fact that $980 was the reason George was murdered, you go 'you're kidding' until you hear the evidence and join the dots."

Quinton Paul Winders, 45, was today found guilty of the 2013 murder of Taiaroa, who was working alone controlling traffic with a stop-go sign at Atiamuri, about 30km north of Taupo.

The Crown's case was that Winders carried out the murder in an act of revenge stemming from a road accident a week earlier. A car Winders was travelling in with his father, Max, went through the checkpoint Taiaroa was controlling, with witnesses saying the sign wasn't clearly displayed.

When Max Winders reversed the vehicle, which was towing a trailer, it collided with the car behind causing minor damage.

Dr Taiaroa said the verdict mattered only "if it is warranted".

"I wouldn't want anybody's child to be guilty of something they are not guilty of. I think of my own children if something like that happened. Couldn't live with myself."

Dr Taiaroa said Max Winders had made it clear in court that money was important to his family.

"If you join the dots, money was a great player in that household, even $980."

Although insured, the Crown claimed Max Winders believed the crash would not be covered because he was towing a trailer. It also claimed to have found a script written by Winders next to the phone in which he tried to dodge responsibility.

Dr Taiaroa pointed to other evidence which claimed Winders had spent six months in a house without electricity rather than pay the power bill.

"If he wasn't going to pay the power, which would have only been $30, then $980 is an even bigger part of the picture."

Dr Taiaroa said she was an advocate of a parallel justice system for Maori in line with other systems created abroad for indigenous peoples.

As it stood, there was no role for the family in the British-rooted system which treated the crime as one against the state.

"It's a crime against us as a whanau, a hapu and an iwi."

The family did not get an opportunity to speak for her husband during the trial - that would come only when the Victim Impact Statement was delivered at sentencing.

"The only opportunity we have to say anything about George is when it comes to describing our feelings as victims. That's the window of opportunity we have to say anything. What's that - five minutes?

"And when you do that, you write it down and it is critiqued to make sure you're saying appropriate things."

Dr Taiaroa said there would be no peace from the verdict but the family would move on.

"It's not going to bring George back. There's no winners and there's no losers in this. I don't want my children to be bogged down with this. They have got to live. Let me put it this way - Quinton Winders ain't going to win the war."

- NZ Herald

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