A close friend of Susan Burdett has told a court of a "secret she asked me to keep".

The retired social worker testified today as a jury in the High Court at Auckland hears the final pieces of evidence at Malcolm Rewa's third murder trial.

The 65-year-old serial rapist was convicted of Burdett's rape in 1998 - but two juries that year were unable to decide whether he was also responsible for her death.

Rewa yesterday claimed he was in a secret sexual relationship with Burdett, who was bludgeoned to death in her Papatoetoe, South Auckland, home in 1992.

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Today, Winsome Ansty - Burdett's "best friend" - described a mystery man the 39-year-old accounts clerk was seeing.

She told police in 2017 of the secret Burdett had asked her to keep.

"She did tell me his full name but I only remember the name Mike," Ansty said.

However, she had told police in an email the name was "Mike Rewa", the court heard.

"He was a Māori man, he had gang affiliations, he was married, I think she said he had kids and she met him down at tenpin bowling," Ansty explained.

Malcolm Rewa, pictured on day one of his retrial. Photo / Michael Craig
Malcolm Rewa, pictured on day one of his retrial. Photo / Michael Craig

Ansty said when Burdett told her of the new man in her life she was "acting a bit coy".

"She says, 'I've got something to tell you and I don't want you to tell anyone else'," Ansty said.

"She says, 'I don't want anyone else to know'.

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"I was a bit shocked, not because it was a man but because he had gang connections."

Rewa yesterday said he was known by other names, including Michael and Hammer.

Ansty also said she was surprised when Burdett said she was also going out and doing drugs.

"The Sue I knew was anti-drugs, anti-alcohol."

Rewa told the court he first met Burdett in 1990 and while the pair were in a secret sexual relationship they also experimented with ecstasy.

Toxicology testing of Burdett's blood in 1998 did not conclusively determine whether or not ecstasy was in her blood, the court heard today.

The Crown alleges Malcolm Rewa raped and murdered Susan Burdett on March 23, 1992. Photo / Supplied
The Crown alleges Malcolm Rewa raped and murdered Susan Burdett on March 23, 1992. Photo / Supplied

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes, when cross-examining Ansty, suggested her memories were unreliable and questioned why she had not come forward to police at various stages during the case in the 1990s.

"They're pretty clear to me," Ansty said.

Kayes also suggested Ansty may have been influenced by a story by senior Herald reporter Phil Taylor in May 2012.

"I rang [Taylor] to find out who the detective was in charge of the case," Ansty explained.

"I would say [the article] probably triggered my memories ... I definitely buried a lot of memories."

Kayes said: "It's a false memory isn't it?"

Ansty replied: "No it isn't."

However, in 2017, Ansty's email to Detective Superintendent David Lynch also said: "I always believed it was Mike or Malcolm Rewa who had killed Sue."

She wrote: "I was very relieved when he was incarcerated ... I think this is probably the last chance to get justice for her."

Burdett, Ansty said, also talked of going on a yacht with a group of gang members, but Rewa said yesterday he wouldn't have been on the yacht.

Kayes has accused Rewa of fabricating a relationship with Burdett in an effort to explain how his semen was found inside Burdett's body.

The Crown alleges Rewa entered Burdett's home on March 23, 1992, before he raped, and murdered her with a baseball bat.

He said the rapist had climbed through Burdett's window and surprised her as she was getting ready for bed.

Rewa's lawyer Paul Chambers, however, has accused Burdett's son Dallas McKay of killing his mum.

McKay was once treated as a suspect by police during the investigation into Burdett's death.

He strenuously denied killing his mother.

Malcolm Rewa has been convicted of raping several women between 1987 and 1996. Photo / Supplied
Malcolm Rewa has been convicted of raping several women between 1987 and 1996. Photo / Supplied

Rewa has been convicted of raping several women between 1987 and 1996.

Burdett's killing, Kayes alleged, displayed a "striking resemblance" to Rewa's other sexual assaults.

Teina Pora was twice wrongly convicted for murdering Burdett on the back of a false confession.

He spent 22 years in prison before the Privy Council quashed his conviction in 2015 and has since received an apology from the Government and $3.5 million in compensation.

A stay of proceedings for a murder prosecution against Rewa was applied by the Solicitor-General in 1998, but two years ago the Deputy Solicitor-General reversed the stay thus allowing the current trial.

A stay had never before been lifted in New Zealand's legal history.

The trial continues.