Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Raurimu massacre: remembering the fallen 20 years on

In 1997 Wellington couple Helen and Neville Anderson invited a group of their friends to spend Waitangi weekend with them at a lodge they owned at Raurimu.

Neville Anderson built the lodge himself and the family had used it as a weekend retreat for about six years.

Their guests included neighbours, long-time mates and work colleagues and their partners.

READ MORE:
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Their son Stephen, who had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was under the care of the Capital & Coast District Health Board's community mental health team, also joined the group because his parents did not want to leave him alone at home in Wellington.

The scene of the Raurimu massacre - a lodge owned by Neville and Helen Anderson. Photograph by Mark Mitchell of the New Zealand Herald.
The scene of the Raurimu massacre - a lodge owned by Neville and Helen Anderson. Photograph by Mark Mitchell of the New Zealand Herald.

Anderson shot five men and a woman to death at or near the lodge. He wounded four others before fleeing into the bush.

Today, the Herald remembers those who went to Raurimu that weekend and never returned, and the local who was gunned down trying to save lives.

Neville Robin Anderson, 60

Neville Anderson was the first person to be shot dead by his son Stephen at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.
Neville Anderson was the first person to be shot dead by his son Stephen at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.

Six months before Raurimu, Anderson was diagnosed with leukaemia. He had worked for many years as a builder but had to give up the job for health reasons and was working as a building arbitrator at the time of his death. He was a keen hunter and scuba diver and is survived by his wife Helen and two sons from a previous marriage.

Anthony Gordon McCarty, 63

Anthony McCarty, killed at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.
Anthony McCarty, killed at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.

McCarty and his wife Isabel lived near the Andersons in the Wellington suburb of Khandallah. He was a retired office manager and a keen home handyman who loved spending time in his garden. Friends described McCarty as a quiet, friendly man. He is survived by Isabel and their daughter Angela.

Stephen Mark Hanson, 38

Raurimu victim Steven Hanson. Photograph supplied.
Raurimu victim Steven Hanson. Photograph supplied.

Hanson's friends described him as the "ultimate nice guy". Originally from Dunedin he moved to Wellington in the early 80s and was working at the National Bank as a computer analyst at the time of his death. Hansen's girlfriend worked with Helen Anderson and the couple were invited to spend the weekend at the family's lodge. Hansen's girlfriend Michelle Churton escaped when the shooting started, hiding in the bushes for two hours until armed police found her. Hanson was gunned down as he tried to call 111 inside the lodge. His body was found next to a blood-spattered telephone.

John Frederick Matthews, 28

Raurimu massacre victim John Matthews Photo supplied to the New Zealand Herald
Raurimu massacre victim John Matthews Photo supplied to the New Zealand Herald

Matthews was Hanson's best mate and had been invited to spend the weekend at the lodge with him and his girlfriend. It was the first time Matthews had been to the lodge, and the first time he had met the Andersons and their other friends. Matthews worked for IBM in Petone and had a computer science degree from Victoria University. He was killed inside the lodge. He is survived by Sisters Christina Tyson and Heather Matthews and their mother Margaret. His father Paul died in August 2016. "You do learn to live with the loss. But we still miss John and think about him quite often," Margaret told the Herald.

Andrea Joy Brander, 52

Anthony McCarty, killed at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.
Anthony McCarty, killed at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.

Brander and her husband of 32 years, Gordon, were the Andersons' next-door neighbours on Kabul St in Khandallah. She worked at Victoria University as an accommodation officer and was a close friend of Helen Anderson. The pair were described as "the social hub" of the neighbourhood. Brander's family said she was "a spectacular lady in every respect". She is survived by her husband and three sons Nicholas, Timothy and Jeremy.

Hendrick "Henk" Dirk Van de Wetering, 51

Hank Van de Wetering was shot dead as he tried to get help at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.
Hank Van de Wetering was shot dead as he tried to get help at Raurimu in 1997. Photograph supplied.

Known as Henk, he lived next door to the Andersons lodge with his wife Helena. Their son Rodney and his wife Kim and their children were visiting on the weekend of the shootings. Henk had lived in Raurimu for about 15 years after moving from Auckland with his wife for a better lifestyle. He was born in the Netherlands and moved to New Zealand as a teenager.

Insane, and not guilty - no convictions for Raurimu gunman

Stephen Anderson is driven from the Hamilton District Court after he was charged with murder and attempted murder. Photograph New Zealand Herald.
Stephen Anderson is driven from the Hamilton District Court after he was charged with murder and attempted murder. Photograph New Zealand Herald.

In February 1997 Stephen Lawrence Anderson was charged with murdering his father, Anthony McCarty, John Mathews, Stephen Hanson, Andrea Brander and Hank Van De Wetering.

He was also charged with attempting to murder Rodney Van De Wetering, his wife Kim Van De Wetering and his mother Helena Van De Wetering, Isabel McCarty, Raymond and Evelyn Spencer, who were also guests at the Andersons' lodge, Michelle Churton and Gordon Brander.

Anderson was 24 when he went on trial in the High Court at Hamilton in December 1997.

After hearing eight days of evidence including harrowing accounts of the shooting from survivors and expert psychiatric testimony, a jury found Anderson not guilty on all charges by reason of insanity.

He was detained indefinitely at a forensic mental health unit at Porirua Hospital but in 2009 it was revealed he had been released.

At the time forensic psychiatrist Dr David Chaplow said Anderson's treatment was continuing.

He said getting Anderson back into the community under strict release conditions would help to rehabilitate him.

Stephen Anderson and his mother Helen at an art exhibition in 2014. Photograph/Herald on Sunday.
Stephen Anderson and his mother Helen at an art exhibition in 2014. Photograph/Herald on Sunday.

The Herald approached Anderson and his mother for comment about the Raurimu shootings and anniversary.

On behalf of the family Helen Anderson emailed a statement.

"Anniversaries of tragic events are distressing for those involved, including Steve and I," she said.

"We wish for privacy at this time and seek to make no further comment. Thanks."

If you need help, or you are concerned about the mental health of a family member, friend or anyone else, please reach out for help.

•Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

•Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

•Healthline - 0800 611 116

•Samaritans - 0800 726 666

For more information visit the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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