The mother and sister of a convicted murderer, in jail for the last 25 years, say the victim's family has nothing to fear about his release from prison.
Approaching Hawke's Bay Today after it was reported that the now 50-year-old Sam Te Hei faces parole, sister Shona and mother Minnie say he has no reason to want to "get at" Colleen Burrows' family.
The fears of Miss Burrows' mother Ida Hawkins, of Wairoa, were reported at the weekend. However, his sister is adamant he does not want to cause fear.
"Sam has not come out to do anything like that. He has no reason, and if anyone has been threatening or scaring Ida, then we want her to know that it won't be with any authority from Sam," Shona King said yesterday in Napier.
"We feel for her. I can understand what she's going through, and I want to ease her mind," she said. "I want her to feel safe. I don't want her to be scared all the time."
Te Hei was arrested 25 years ago after teenager Miss Burrows was found near the Tutaekuri River's Brookfields Bridge on the morning of June 19, 1987.
Ms King said she was "devastated" when she heard of what her brother was involved in, and had travelled immediately from Wairoa so she and her mother could express their condolences to Ida Hawkins at her Hawke's Bay home. She herself was "scared" of what they were walking into as people gathered in the house for the tangi, but there were no apparent recriminations.
Te Hei and a co-offender were later convicted and sentenced to life.
The co-offender was released in 1998, and has not been back to prison.
Te Hei's girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, and daughter are understood to be the "sponsors" accepted by the Parole Board in granting day release.
Ms King, emphasising she was not making excuses or seeking sympathy for her brother, said: "I think he still thinks it's like it was in 1987.
"He has got a lot to get used to.
"But he's not going to do anything to anybody. He's 50 years old."
One of 11 brothers and sisters, he had grown up with an uncle and aunt at Bay View, and his sister believed he had a good upbringing.
It was after he began attending Napier Boys' High School that things started to change, she said.
He met new friends in the city, and got into the gang scene which was when the killing happened.
His uncle and aunt died while he was in prison, and Ms King said: "I think, what happened would have broken their hearts."