The family of a Hastings murder victim is devastated his killer is appealing his conviction.

A Court of Appeal hearing will be held in June for Steven Rakuraku to argue his life sentence for murdering Johnny Wright.

The sickness beneficiary was jailed in 2014 for a minimum of 17 years, for kidnapping and murdering 50-year-old Mr Wright.

The jury found Rakuraku guilty of bashing Johnny Wright to death.


Mr Wright ribs had 36 fractures which caused him to stop breathing.

Rakuraku carried out the murder using a taiaha.

He buried his victim in a shallow grave near Eskdale in 2011.

During the jury trial in 2014, he admitted burying Mr Wright out of panic, but denied having anything to do with his death.

Rakuraku represented himself during a three-week trial at the High Court in Napier.

He will represent himself again at his appeal hearing.

Mr Wright's brother Paul Wright said they were shocked Rakuraku was continuing to deny his involvement.

"We waited for so long to actually get to court and then the horrifficness of the whole process, his general behaviour was hideous and now it's all happening again."

He said Rakuraku's appeal will retraumatise the family.

"We started moving on and had dealt with a lot of the grief and horrifficness that happened with Johnny's murder and it just took us back to day one," Mr Wright said. "Mum and dad were absolutely devastated."

Detective Senior Sergeant Brent Greville, the officer in charge of the murder investigation, said he felt sorry for the Wright family because the court process hasn't been finalised yet.