Murderer and rapist Malcolm Rewa's appeal against his conviction for killing Susan Burdett has been postponed at the last minute.

The case, which has spanned nearly two decades, reached the Court of Appeal this morning, but was promptly put off by the judges due to issues around his lawyer's fitness to represent him, and whether Rewa consented to his lawyer acting for him.

Justice Stephen Kos ordered the lawyer, Paul Chambers, to obtain a medical report showing his fitness to act, and made an order that the report be sent to Rewa, who should then give written consent if he wished for Chambers to keep representing him.

He also ordered that a lawyer assisting the court should identify other "responsible" appeal points for Rewa's hearing.

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Chambers was due to argue against the conviction today for the 1992 Auckland killing - one of New Zealand's most infamous.

The appeal will now be heard on April 1 in Auckland.

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Susan Burdett was murdered in her South Auckland home in 1992. Photo / Supplied
Susan Burdett was murdered in her South Auckland home in 1992. Photo / Supplied

Rewa's appeal was to be based on the assertion the jury that convicted him was biased, and had predetermined their verdict.

The trial

During his trial, Rewa claimed he was in a secret sexual relationship with Burdett - which he said explained his semen being found at the crime scene.

Chief High Court judge Justice Geoffrey Venning, who presided over the trial, has said the claim was "a further injustice and indignity on Ms Burdett and her memory".

Rewa also accused Burdett's son Dallas McKay of the murder and said a possible motive might have been the $250,000 he inherited from his mum's life insurance policy.

Before the trial, the Court of Appeal allowed the Crown to use 20 of Rewa's previous rape convictions to display a pattern of offending.

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The attack on Burdett, Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes said at trial, displayed all the hallmarks of a typical Rewa crime.

Several of his rape victims had their legs crossed or dangling over the bed, their eyes blindfolded, and top half covered.

Burdett was found lying naked on her bed, her upper half covered with a blood-soaked blue duvet after she was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, while her legs were crossed and hanging over the side of the bed.

Kayes said Rewa had entered through a window at Burdett's South Auckland home and surprised the 39-year-old as she prepared for bed - a style of attack he was known for.

Rewa had two previous trials in 1998 over the accounts clerk's murder. Both juries were unable to reach a conclusion for the murder, but Rewa was convicted of Burdett's rape at his second trial.

A 1998 stay of the murder charge against Rewa was lifted in 2017, allowing a third trial to proceed.

Malcolm Rewa at an earlier appearance in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig
Malcolm Rewa at an earlier appearance in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig

The case also led to one of New Zealand's great injustices - the prosecution and imprisonment of Teina Pora.

Pora was just 17 years old when he was arrested before twice being wrongly convicted of murdering Burdett.

He spent 22 years in prison, and his conviction was quashed by the Privy Council in London during 2015. He has received a government apology and $3.5 million in compensation.

Rewa was sentenced to life imprisonment for Burdett's murder, which will be served concurrently with his existing 22-year preventive detention sentence for his rapes.

Teina Pora was twice wrongly convicted of Susan Burdett's murder. File photo / Michael Craig
Teina Pora was twice wrongly convicted of Susan Burdett's murder. File photo / Michael Craig