Memorial for Otorohanga stabbing victim Clare Bremner

Keith Bremner is in Waikato hospital after a stabbing in Otorohanga. He is pictured here with daughter Loren, and wife Clare, who was killed in the attack.
Keith Bremner is in Waikato hospital after a stabbing in Otorohanga. He is pictured here with daughter Loren, and wife Clare, who was killed in the attack.

Bonded by grief and dressed in black, about 300 mourners gathered at the property of Clare and Keith Bremner today to pay their respects to the double stabbing victims.

The husband and wife were stabbed on Tuesday night by their son Ross Bremner before he fled into the night, sparking a large-scale man hunt by armed police.

Clare, 60, died from her injuries while Keith, 64, remains in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital.

Ross Bremner was found dead four days later alongside the bodies of an elderly couple Mona Tuwhangai and Maurice O'Donnell 45 minutes' drive away in Kinohaku.

A white marquee was set up for today's service and those who attended were welcomed onto the Cruden Ave property with a waiata. Bunches of flowers were left at the letter box and mourners clutched posies of flowers which were laid at the foot of a newly planted kowhai tree.

Otorohanga Mayor Max Baxter was among the mourners. He said there was a large turnout from across the district and further afield, and representation from a "great cross-section of the community".

"The groundswell of support there was just a true indication of how well they were respected within the community.

"It has come as such a major shock to the town.

"The one thing I did certainly pick up over the past week is what a really nice guy Keith is and what an absolutely lovely person Clare was.

"The comment I really liked is you can criticise or blame the sin but you certainly can't blame the sinner in this respect. Ross obviously had serious mental health issues which probably hadn't been kept in check and obviously there was a devastating series of events."

Baxter said the event provided an opportunity to "share a prayer, thought and discussion" about what had happened and to move on. "And be there to support the family in what is going to be a long, long journey out of this."

The Bremner property in Cruden Ave, Otorohanga. Photo / Alan Gibson
The Bremner property in Cruden Ave, Otorohanga. Photo / Alan Gibson

A relative of Clare's who attended but did not want to be named said it was a lovely service.

Among the speakers were ministers, Otorohanga Police Sergeant Andy Connors, head detective Ross Patterson, the president of the Mongrel Mob, two of Clare's work colleagues and close family friend Geoff Benefield.

The relative said the family of Mona Tuwhangai, who was killed by Ross Bremner, also attended and said they held no grudges and sent the Bremner family all their aroha. The Tuwhangai family was then heading to a marae in Taumarunui for the tangi as the bodies had been returned to them on Sunday.

"It wasn't a sad thing. It was just so nice. The whole community there."

One of two former education colleagues who spoke said they had just caught up with Clare for lunch in Whatawhata the day she died and that she had found a nice work life balance between her teaching, caring for her family and spending time with friends.

A kowhai tree, which had been donated by Mitre 10, was planted by neighbour of 16 years Dennis Kaumoana beside the couple's house near their back door.

"I just thought it was a wonderful way to remember Clare, and Clare liked gardening and flowers and trees and tuis and that was the appropriate thing. I was going to get a rose, but when I saw this kowhai I thought that would be better. Tuis can start singing to her in remembrance to her," Kaumoana said.

Close family friend of the Bremners, Benefield, spoke of both his godson Ross and Clare, and told the audience they were both in heaven now and Clare had probably forgiven her son, Kaumoana said.

He told the crowd Ross' behaviour was out of character and it was due to his mental state.

A visitors book was open for those attending to sign so Keith could read the messages left for them.

Food was provided by Otorohanga residents and local businesses to be shared after the service.

- NZ Herald

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