Maui Haukamau was murdered in May this year by Hughie Ransfield. Photo / Supplied 230920aw02.JPG
The house on Te Ngae Rd where Hughie Ransfield murdered Maui Haukamau. Photo / File A_210520aw03.JPG
A Rotorua man who bludgeoned his friend of 20 years in a "frenzied and savage" attack has been sent to jail for life with a minimum non-parole period of 14 years.
Hughie Ransfield, 59, was sentenced today
in the High Court at Rotorua after previously pleading guilty to murdering Maui Haukamau at a Te Ngae Rd house on May 20 this year.
The court heard Ransfield asked Haukamau about some money Ransfield believed his friend owed and Haukamau laughed and told him to "get f*****", enraging Ransfield.
Ransfield grabbed a nearby piece of metal pipe and struck Haukamau in the head multiple times as hard as he could.
He later told police Haukamau "signed his own death warrant for not paying his tick", which he said was about $3500.
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 Haukamau's partner, Hirāina Hune-Hona, and son holding their shoulders throughout the sentencing.
Hune-Hona, Haukamau's partner of 23 years, 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, and explained the Māori mythology of Maui and how her husband got his name.
She said he was a father of five - one of whom stood beside her while she addressed the court - and grandfather of 10.
She said he was a hard-working man, had great speaking capacity and had many skills which he had 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 descriptions 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.
By 4pm, after the pair had drunk about half a box of beer each, Ransfield asked Haukamau about the money he believed his friend owed.
Ransfield grabbed a nearby piece of metal pipe and struck Haukamau in the head multiple times. 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 as defence counsel for Ransfield and argued he was remorseful despite his explanation to police on the day.
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 highlighted his hearing disability, saying he was profoundly deaf and it hadn't been detected until he was 17. He left school early and suffered from social isolation.
She noted that he was facing the court today 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, Justice Whata 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, Haukamau's son performed an emotional haka before Justice Whata.