They died at the hands of a man facing mental health struggles, and now their only daughter is calling for urgent changes to prevent further tragedies.

In a powerful open letter, Jo Kukutai has spoken publicly for the first time since her parents Mona Tuwhangai, 80, and Maurice O'Donnell, 72, were found dead at their Kawhia bach earlier this month.

The body of Ross Bremner was found alongside them, four days after he stabbed his mother, Clare, 60, to death and critically injured his father, Keith, 64, at their Otorohanga home.

Kukutai spoke of her parents' lives in the letter, their close 50-year relationship and the grief following their sudden, avoidable deaths.


"My Mum and Dad were all that I had and it was only ever the three of us until I had a family of my own," she said.

"They meant the world to me. I was blessed to have my parents as my Mum and Dad. They gave me an abundance of opportunities and imparted in me a significant amount of life lessons."

She spoke of her parents' bond with her own two children, Sterling and Taylor, and her husband, Hika.

There was no ill feeling towards the Bremner family, and she and her husband attended Ross' and Clare's joint funeral, she said.

"This is a time for grace, forgiveness, love and unity, rather than recriminations on whānau and community members.

"The Bremners are a beautiful family and we have shared some very personal and private moments together.

"Our hearts go out to the Bremners for their loss and we were grateful to have a member of the Bremner family attend my parents' tangi (funeral)."

However, Kukutai echoed calls for an urgent review into mental health care.


Ross was an out patient of the Waikato District Health Board's mental health services at the time of his rampage, and his family had reportedly tried to seek further help for him in the weeks leading up to the tragic events.

The DHB has announced it will be conducting a review of its services in light of the events.

"While it is too late for my family, it is my hope that, if the review highlights any systemic issues that need addressing, that these matters are corrected promptly to minimise the risk of such devastation to future families.

"Since burying my parents, I note that there have been other tragic incidents in NZ regarding other families and members who have suffered from mental health.

"This needs to stop so other families are not put through the same situation that we now face."

Since the Bremner killings, mental health advocates and community members have voiced strong concerns at the ability of DHBs to cater to the need for services, and have called for a national inquiry.


It is understood members of the Bremner family and wider Otorohanga community are preparing to take action against health authorities.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has repeatedly denied the need for a national inquiry, and a spokeswoman from his office last night said he had nothing to add to previous comments on the issue.

Friends and family grieve at the deaths of Mona Tuwhangai and Maurice O'Donnell at their Kawhia bach. Photo / Alan Gibson
Friends and family grieve at the deaths of Mona Tuwhangai and Maurice O'Donnell at their Kawhia bach. Photo / Alan Gibson