1. Did your sense of justice kick in from a young age?
I think it's fair to say that I was a late developer in that respect. I didn't have too many interests at school other than sport. That really didn't change when I went to university. It wasn't until I started working that those sorts of interests were stirred. And a sense of ambition also emerged in my early 20s that wasn't there when I was younger.
2. Why did you leave the police?
I loved it - it's a fantastic job - but about a year before I left, I had an experience that left me questioning my place there. I was involved in an off-duty incident with one of my fellow detectives and as a result there was a brief period where I was suspended. I don't want to go into details, it was a fairly innocuous thing, it involved socialising outside of work hours. It was reviewed and there was a legal opinion received that we hadn't done anything wrong in a criminal sense, much to the frustration of one or two people. But the experience was enlightening, it made me realise that it can be a very lonely and vulnerable place when it's suggested that you've done something wrong when you haven't. You feel that the world is against you and you desperately look for support.
3. When did you first become interested in the case of Teina Pora?
Back in 2000, after he was convicted at his second trial, I heard one or two of my police colleagues express dismay and the very clear view that he was innocent and should never have been charged, let alone convicted. Over the following years I completed a masters degree in criminology and a proportion of that was on the psychology of crime and false confessions. From time to time I would reflect on Teina's case. Teina believed he was being offered a $20,000 reward and indemnity from prosecution [if he confessed]. I mean, he'd spent a year with his family telling the world that he'd done it. And one of the symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [which Pora has since been diagnosed with] is a desire or an eagerness to please people in authority.
4. What made you decide to get involved in the case?
In 2009 I was diagnosed with a rare blood condition and that changed the way I look at things, I guess. It's manageable at the moment but it has forced me to consider my own mortality. That's what pushed me toward making contact with Teina. I went to see him in Spring Hill Prison. We were both wary of each other. He was much younger and smaller in stature than I'd imagined. I was surprised by his lack of bitterness, but also a steely determination to see his case reviewed. The first 10 years of his incarceration he had almost no visitors. He was left to rot.
5. How is he faring in the outside world?
Generally good. He loves life. He still marvels at the smallest things - mountains, the sea, islands. The natural world and personal relationships, that's what's most new to him. He's got some great friends, really interesting people. He's got a more active social life than most of us at the moment. Having said that, he went to jail for 21 years when he was 17 years old so there are life lessons he needs to learn and some of those won't be particularly easy.
6. Do you think he is grateful to you?
I don't look for his gratitude. He has expressed it. But, it sounds weird to say this, but in many ways it's more of a partnership. He's trusted me, I've trusted him.
7. Did you become a little obsessed with the case?
Yes, to some extent I think that's unavoidable. When you do work like this you have to be very careful that it doesn't become destructive. Every waking moment is consumed. I don't know how many times my wife Megan has had substantial and lengthy conversations with me about things that I have no recollection of because I'm on page 4320 of the [police] disclosure trying to work out how we might deal with it. She shares my sense of justice and interest in the case and she's a voice of reason and a great sounding board, but she's had to be very patient. There were times when there was pretty severe financial stress. I'm not complaining but I wouldn't have been able to continue without my parents who never hesitated to help. Between [Pora's lawyers] Jonathan Krebs and Ingrid Squire and I, we've worked many thousands of hours. And there's also all the tension and emotions that come with the material. There's not a day that's gone by that I haven't thought about the Burdett family.
8. How did you meet Megan?
She's a forensic scientist. I was working as a detective and we met on a course about methamphetamine. I thought she was beautiful. She was cheeky and obviously very smart. And competitive.
9. Do you see things from the underdog's perspective?
Yes, but not always. I have a lot of empathy for those who have been marginalised or not given a fair go. Whether it's drought, famine, war, genocide, in the future I'd like to be part of an organisation that helps deal with those issues. I'm fascinated with what is going on in Israel and Palestine. I don't take sides. But I'm a great believer in the rule of law, when international law is disregarded as it is with the economic sanctions against Palestine that bothers me. But I also feel sympathy for the Israeli position. I don't choose sides but I do advocate for the rule of law.
10. What was your upbringing like?
My father was a stock agent so we moved with his job. I lived in Gore till I was about 6 years old, then Nelson and then Masterton. It was a pretty protected life - small-town New Zealand. My parents were hard-working, middle-class. There was an innate dislike of unfairness in the family, though it wasn't something overtly spoken about.
11. You drove from your home in Hawkes Bay to Auckland more than 50 times for this case. Did you listen to music on those drives?
No, actually. I just drive in silence. My mind clunks along pretty slowly so it's nice to have four or five hours to myself to think things through.
12. What's been your biggest moment of celebration with the Pora case?
I don't think we've had it yet. Teina's convictions have been quashed and we had a couple of drinks but it wasn't a party, it was more a sense of relief. Teina was speechless and pretty emotional. For me it was one step closer to our goal, but it's not over and I certainly won't relax until it is.