Maui Haukamau was murdered in May this year by Hughie Ransfield. Photo / Supplied 230920aw02.JPG
Hughie Ransfield being sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner 230920xx1
The partner of a man bludgeoned to death by his friend has revealed she believes there's a second killer out there who has got away with murder.
Hughie Ransfield, 59, was today sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 14 years for the murder of Maui Haukamau on May 20 this year at a Te Ngae Rd house.
Ransfield made a full confession that he struck Haukamau about the head as hard as he could several times with a metal bar in an argument to do with money he believed he owed.
Haukamau's partner of 23 years, Hirāina Hune-Hona, spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post after the sentencing, saying there were unresolved issues and while the family were pleased Ransfield had been punished, they believed he wasn't the only person in the room when Haukamau was bashed to death.
However, police say no one else was involved.
Hune-Hona said Ransfield came to pick up her partner on the day he was killed but their grandchildren told them there was a second person in the car with Ransfield.
She said she believed Ransfield, who was of slight build, was too small to overcome her partner, who was 1.9m tall (6ft 3 inches) and physically fit.
"There was no way he could have done that and everyone knew it."
Hune-Hone said she had given police information, including the name of someone the family believed could have also been involved, but police only charged Ransfield.
Hune-Hona said the family wanted to make their feelings known when delivering their victim impact statement in the court but were asked to remove their theories from the statement.
"We had to suck it up ... Maui's story hasn't really been told."
Rotorua CIB leader Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Van Kempen said Hune-Hone's suggestions were thoroughly investigated but police firmly believed Ransfield was the only killer.
"It is incorrect. There were no other persons involved."
He said every avenue, including forensic evidence, was looked at.
"At the end of the day, he (Ransfield) confessed fully."
At today's sentencing, Crown Solicitor Amanda Gordon said Haukamau would have been taken by surprise after enjoying a day drinking with Ransfield, someone he considered a friend.
"It was a frenzied and savage attack and involved that very high degree of brutality."
More than 10 members of Haukamau's family were present in court, with two members of the family standing behind Hune-Hona, and Hakamau's son, Tuwhakairiora Houkamau, holding their shoulders throughout the sentencing.
Hune-Hona addressed Justice Christian Whata and read her victim impact statement while standing in front of a photograph of Haukamau.
She read her statement in Māori, which was translated into English. In it, she said he was a father of five and grandfather of 10.
She said he was a hard-working man, had great speaking capacity and had many skills which he passed on to his children.
"This has not been resolved yet. The blood of the father is still there in the garage."
She said the family did not agree with the facts being said about Haukamau.
"It is difficult to allow that to go forward at this time."
The murder happened on the afternoon of May 20 when Ransfield went to Haukamau's house. The pair bought a box of beer and some cannabis before returning to Ransfield's home on Te Ngae Rd.
At 4pm, Ransfield asked Haukamau about the money he believed his friend owed, which was about $3500.
Ransfield grabbed a nearby piece of metal pipe and struck Haukamau in the head multiple times and the ferocity of the blows caused the metal pipe to break in two.
Ransfield continued to strike Haukamau's head with the remaining half of the metal pipe to ensure he didn't get up.
He then called emergency services, requesting ambulance and police. He said he had "bashed his friend" and that he thought he had killed him.
Haukamau suffered significant blunt force trauma to the back of his head. The blows fractured the skull and lacerated the dura, and caused extensive subdural and subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Arama Ngapo-Lipscombe appeared for Ransfield and argued he was remorseful despite his explanation to police on the day that he had "signed his own death warrant for not paying his tick".
She said after what happened Ransfield vomited three times and became breathless and started crying.
"He said 'sorry, sorry what have I done? Sorry my bro, sorry'," Ngapo-Lipscombe said.
She said Ransfield was profoundly deaf and it wasn't detected until he was 17, he left school early and he suffered from social isolation.
She noted that he was today
facing the court for the most serious charge in New Zealand and there was no family support.
Justice Whata allowed Ransfield to sit in the court's witness box during sentencing to ensure he could hear the judge.
Justice Whata said a cultural report showed Ransfield was in a serious car crash in 2003 in which his partner and 9-year-old daughter were killed. He was injured in the crash and those injuries added to his disabilities.
In handing down his sentence he said it would be manifestly unjust to impose a minimum non-parole period of 17 years considering his personal circumstances, age and disability.
He instead imposed a non-parole period of 14 years.
At the end of the sentencing, Tuwhakairiora Haukamau performed an emotional haka before Justice Whata.