Opinion: A brutal attack on an innocent family brought devastation to a small rural community, writes Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president Alan Wills.

It starts out like any normal day – life's horrendous moments always do.

The devastation brought to Reporoa 20 years ago, by the home invasion of Beverly and Henk Bouma and the murder of Beverly were horrifying acts.

Reporoa was dragged into the collective consciousness of New Zealand for all the wrong reasons. The same could be said for Beverly.

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Beverly was reduced to a murder statistic all because four thugs were bored, drugged, drunk and decided to take out their toxicity on an innocent rural family.

Read more: The case that angered a nation

I knew both Beverly and Henk. I knew the neighbours Henk ran to get help from after he lost his wife to the barbaric acts. I know the Bouma kids. That's what happens when you live in a small community – you know everyone.

As a community and as a nation the slaying of Beverly triggered an emotional response with many – because it showed how vulnerable we all are and how much we all rely on trust to survive the day.

Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president Alan Wills. Photo / Shannon Gillies
Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president Alan Wills. Photo / Shannon Gillies

The attack showed us how fragile the system we live in is.

As humans we love to believe in the theory that every effect has a cause - that if you're a good human only good things happen to you, and if something bad happens your actions must have contributed to it.

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But Beverly's murder blew all those assumptions away. As a result, her killing triggered for some – an immense feeling of fragility.

The Reporoa community came together, stunned and driven by an overwhelming sense of helplessness. We became a tight unit and supported each other through the initial trauma and post-traumatic stress.

Our neighbours, in Ngakuru, will be experiencing similar trauma and emotion as they deal with last week's tragedy.

As a community we are now stronger for an experience we didn't need or ever expect to have. The passage of time has meant we have moved on but we have not forgotten the event of 20 years ago.

We are, for a loss of better words, a case study for how to get through collective trauma and grief.

Our community has never forgotten Beverly, nor the late Henk.

We miss them both.