A couple who survived the 1997 Raurimu massacre have opened up for the first time in two decades about the terrifying experience and the impact it has had on their lives.

On February 8 1997 Stephen Lawrence Anderson gunned down six people and wounded five others during a rampage at a ski lodge just out of Raurimu in the central North Island.

Anderson's parents Helen and Neville owned the lodge and had invited a group of friends to spend the weekend with them.

READ MORE:
Raurimu massacre: remembering the fallen 20 years on
Raurimu massacre: Spiral of despair

Advertisement

As the group sat around the breakfast table on the Saturday morning, Anderson - a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic - opened fire.

He shot his father first, then picked off five others before heading next door to the neighbour's home.

Henk and Helena Van de Wetering had lived beside the Anderson's lodge for 15 years.

That particular weekend their son Rodney and his wife Kim and their young children had come to stay.

The family were preparing to go and watch boat racing on Lake Taupo when Anderson came charging down the driveway with a gun.

Both Rodney and Kim spoke to the Weekend Herald about that day.

It is the first time they have given a full interview about the massacre.

"There are a lot of moments I would like to go back and do again that day - and do it right," Rodney said.

"I wouldn't have given Anderson the opportunity ... that was my crime ... if I'd shot him, then my father would still be alive.

"I know I did everything I could that day, I know I didn't do too bad a job because I got my two kids out, and my mum, but in the back of my mind my dad still died because I didn't kill Stephen Anderson.

"I still feel guilty about that; even though I know I shouldn't, I still do. You can't just bury that."

Rodney was shot in the face by Anderson as he ran, trying to lure the gunman away from his family.

He was badly injured, but survived.

Kim Van De Wetering. Photo / Brendon O'Hagan
Kim Van De Wetering. Photo / Brendon O'Hagan

Kim was not physically injured, but lives with the emotional scars of seeing her father-in-law being shot in front of her.

"I remember every single second, every minute, every detail, every sound, every smell, every fear, every moment, feeling facing evil, feeling not being able to run, feeling watching while your children and husband were being shot at, the feeling as the killer approached and you knew it was over, but somehow it wasn't," she said.

"It's like it was only yesterday, it's just less fearful now."

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.