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12.00pm

Mass murderer Raymond Ratima's second Parole Board hearing has been postponed until Thursday.

Families of Ratima's seven victims were told the hearing, which was to be held in Christchurch today, had been postponed due to the amount of "correspondence" involved.

The Parole Board will consider emotional pleas not to release Ratima.

A group including Masterton Mayor Bob Francis, former police officer Luther Toloa and families of Ratima's seven victims, are fiercely opposed to his release after 11 years in jail.

Ratima knifed and bludgeoned to death seven people at a Masterton house in 1992.

Ratima's 36-weeks pregnant sister-in-law Nicola Ferguson, 20, her partner Bevan Tepu, 21, their child Stephen, three, and Nicola's brother Phillip Ferguson junior, 14, were murdered.

Also killed were Ratima's children -- Piripi, seven, Barney, five, and Stacey, two.

A woman who police believe Ratima also intended to kill, Tubby Ferguson, the mother of his former wife Toni, told NZPA today she had been informed the case had been deferred so the board could consider all the material before them.

"They have quite a bit and they can't afford to make a mistake over this," she said.

Mrs Ferguson had spoken to the Parole Board yesterday and made clear her opposition to Ratima's release.

"Fears for family safety are a priority.

"She said her family's safety would be compromised if Ratima was let out.

"The sentence is a done deal, but a life should be for a life."

The Parole Board today confirmed Ratima's hearing had been moved to Thursday.

It said three written submissions and "several oral submissions" had been received, but a decision on Ratima would probably be reserved.

Mrs Ferguson, who with her daughter and husband found Ratima in the Masterton house after his rampage, said the Parole Board had been going to send her its decision by letter.

"But I asked them to call me, so I can hear the same time he hears -- I don't want to read it in the paper," she told NZPA.

She said family members from Wairarapa and the central North Island had been supporting each other.

"We have had several staying with us in recent days."

Mr Toloa said today it would be a major injustice if Ratima were to be released after serving just 11 years in jail.

Mr Toloa, who was head of Masterton CIB at the time of the killings, said Ratima, now 35, had shown no remorse during his trial.

"If he couldn't have his family, his kids, nobody else could have them," he told National Radio.

Mr Toloa found the children's bodies in their mother's bed, with the sheets pulled over their heads and a Bible left open nearby.

He has made one of the submissions opposing Ratima's release.

Mayor Mr Francis said he had become close to Ratima's family.

"They are certainly concerned and frightened and feel very much threatened by the potential release of Ratima," he said.

He understood that if released, Ratima would live with family in the Deep South.

Mr Francis has also made a submission to the Parole Board, on behalf of Wairarapa victims and residents.

The mayor said that compared with the 20-plus year minimum sentences handed out to killers Mark Lundy and Bruce Howse, it was "totally inappropriate" for Ratima to be let out.

Last month Rebecca Ferguson, who lost a son, a daughter and three grandchildren during Ratima's rampage, said she would be making a submission.

One of her fears was that Ratima may visit his victims' graves.

After his 10-year non-parole period expired, Ratima was denied parole at a hearing last year. He is entitled to a parole hearing every year.

His parole hearing this week coincides with the Sensible Sentencing Trust and families of murder victims meeting at parliament to urge MPs for tougher laws on violent crime.

- NZPA