One of the men convicted of the manslaughter of Wanganui teenager Jeremy Frew and who appeared on X Factor on Tuesday night said he has "done everything I can to be respectful to the [Frew] family".
Now living in Masterton, Shae Brider said he is not asking for mercy or pity after his X Factor audition but says his success was simply "tearing down another wall" to escape a life he left in a prison cell years ago.
Mr Brider, 29, of Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi and Ngati Kahungunu, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail for his part in the killing of 16-year-old Jeremy Frew in Wanganui in 2004.
He was then 19 and after serving six years at Wanganui Prison, he shifted to Masterton out of respect for the Frew family.
"I've done everything I can to be respectful to the family. I took myself away from my home town in order to give them space, and I've never gone back there because of that. That's their right. Their son was taken from them."
He said prison was life-changing and besides a driving offence, he had remained clear of convictions since his release.
"I grew up in there. I was a teenager when I went in and I came out a man. I was in the Maori Focus Unit for the last two-and-a-half years and that really spun my perspective.
"All my mates were thieves growing up, and everyone got up to shit.
"No one believed I was Maori because of my white skin. It wasn't till I went to the Maori Focus Unit I found out what being a Maori actually meant."
Brider has family in Wairarapa and was now in occasional contact with only one of his three co-offenders, his brother-in-law, but had not spoken or associated with the other two "for a while, for a long time".
"I don't contact them. There's no need any more. What happened is not me. It's something that happened but it doesn't define who I am."
He married in Wairarapa a year ago and about the same time landed a job at a Masterton service station, where a constant flow of customers was yesterday wishing him well in his X Factor bid.
Brider said in a background piece for his appearance on X Factor that Jeremy Frew was his friend.
"I met some dudes and we went to a bonfire ... there was a commotion with two of them and one of them stabbed the other one and he ended up passing away, who was also my friend, the guy that died.
"So we got jointly charged for it and I went to prison for six years."
In a statement following controversy over Brider's appearance on the talent show, TV3 said: "Shae disclosed his criminal record when he entered The X Factor NZ and as a standard part of the process a police check was run.
"It was important to include this part of Shae's background in last night's episode, and as is the case with all contestants, this was done in his own words. The X Factor NZ acknowledges the impact Shae's past actions have had on his victims, and apologises for any distress that has been caused by last night's episode."
The Chronicle contacted members of the Frew family yesterday but they had not made a comment by the time this issue went to press.