Malcolm Rewa's stepmother has broken her silence to make a heartfelt apology to Susan Burdett's family, 27 years after he raped and murdered her.

"I am sorry they had to go through this. For 20 years it's been off and on - she hasn't been put to rest," Ruby Lewis told the Herald on Sunday.

"I wouldn't like to wish anything like this on anyone. To the Burdett family, my heart goes out to them,"

As Rewa was convicted on Friday, Lewis was at Otamatea Marae in Maungaturoto where her whanau were preparing for an unveiling. She learned of the verdict two hours after the jury made its announcement.

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Lewis also wanted to apologise to "innocent boy" Teina Pora, who spent two decades behind bars for Burdett's murder.

Over all the years, Lewis said she had never stopped thinking about Pora, who was convicted in 1994. The convictions were quashed by the Privy Council in 2015 and he was later granted $3.5 million in compensation.

"When you looked at the trial, he was an innocent boy," Lewis said. "I am just happy that he's got his life back and that he's back in the community where he should be."

Rewa, who turned 66 yesterday, was found guilty of murdering 39-year-old Burdett in her unit in Pah Rd, Papatoetoe in 1992. He had already been convicted of raping her - as well as more than 20 other sex attacks.

Lewis, 81, married Rewa's father Maurice Lewis after his first wife, Lovinia, died in a car crash when her son was 6 months old. After the crash, Rewa was adopted and raised by his aunt and uncle.

Ruby Lewis, step mother of Malcolm Rewa, apologised to Susan Burdett's family. Photo / Michael Craig.
Ruby Lewis, step mother of Malcolm Rewa, apologised to Susan Burdett's family. Photo / Michael Craig.

Despite having little to do with Rewa in his younger years, Lewis said she and Maurice felt "disbelief" and "devastation" when Rewa was jailed for rapes and sexual assaults against 25 women

"My husband cried and would leave the room when he saw him on TV - that was his child who he didn't have much to do with. We've got our own children who aren't saints but it was devastating to know, as a parent, your child did all this damage."

Maurice's anguish was compounded when he offered to give his DNA to the police. He had hoped the tests would clear his youngest son.

"When the police arrived my husband thought he was doing the right thing. He was giving DNA to prove Malcolm's innocence so it was devastating it proved the opposite, that he was guilty. My husband said to me, 'Well if he's done that I'm glad he's been found out before things got worse'."

Malcolm Rewa, 65, in the dock at the Auckland High Court where he faced a retrial for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett in 1992. Photo / Michael Craig
Malcolm Rewa, 65, in the dock at the Auckland High Court where he faced a retrial for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett in 1992. Photo / Michael Craig

Rewa never apologised to his father for the actions which put him in jail and Ruby never questioned her stepson's innocence or guilt. She supports him unconditionally.

"I don't condone what he's done but he's still our son."

Ruby has visited him in prison a handful of times and the pair used to talk once a fortnight to catch up on "family stuff".

While serving a preventive detention sentence for multiple rape convictions, Rewa found God after "such a harsh, possibly nasty life".

"He didn't turn Christian because he wants sympathy. He knows he's a bad person, he's done a lot of bad things and he's paying for it. Only God can forgive him. No wants to forgive him personally because he would've hurt a lot of people. All the victims, it's probably affected their lives."

Murder victim Susan Burdett on her wedding day in December 1975. Photo / File
Murder victim Susan Burdett on her wedding day in December 1975. Photo / File

Lewis said Rewa, known as "bubby" to his family, was adopted by his father's sister and her partner, Nadia and Jack Rewa, who lived in Glen Eden.

She and Maurice didn't have much to do with him until they reconnected when Rewa was in his late teens.

"He came on his motorbike with his girlfriend Tina. He seemed jovial, I didn't think there was anything wrong with him. While I cooked him some food I could tell he was watching my every word. Later he said, 'You're not the witch I thought you were'. Before that I think he painted me as not a nice person".

Lewis said Maurice was happy Rewa was with whanau as Nadia didn't have children of her own when she took him in.

"When a young husband loses his wife the family take over. So you hope the people who bring them up give them the best in life but in this case something went wrong."