The crown case is that both Pora and Rewa were involved in the murder of Susan Burdett in 1992. Rewa, of course, is the renowned serial rapist whose DNA was found at the scene. Pora implicated himself in the crime, seeking the $50,000 reward. Evidence suggests that Pora was not involved, and their respective gang affiliations support this.
The relationship between the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob (with which Pora was associated) and the Highway 61 during 1992 was extremely hostile. Conflict between the groups began a decade earlier with a series of violent incidents in Hawkes Bay. The first appears to have been in the small town of Waipawa where a large clash occurred, part of which included the Mongrel Mob damaging a number of Highway 61 motorcycles.
This incident sparked further clashes and was the start of a long-running gang war that involved fire bombings, assaults, brawls, and shootings.
As is the case with a great many rivalries within New Zealand’s gang scene, the antagonism between the Highway 61 and the Mongrel Mob was deeply held and enduring: as late as 1999, during a time when warfare between patched gangs was becoming all but assigned to history, hostilities between the Highway 61 and the Mongrel Mob were still evident. That year four members of the Mob followed a member of the Highway 61s riding through Hastings. When the biker reached his destination the Mob members attacked him with a sledgehammer inflicting serious injuries including a compression fracture to the skull. They also stole his patch.
Given the nature of the relationship between the Mongrel Mob and the Highway 61 in the early 1990s, the idea of members from opposing factions having any type of association beyond a hostile one is very unlikely.
Furthermore, amid this backdrop of conflict another extremely unlikely thing would have to occur –that being that Rewa, a senior figure of rank, would have any involvement across this divide with a person who was referred to in the testimony of a long-standing mob member as a “bum boy” – an associate, lower than a prospect. Nothing is impossible, but this scenario is fast becoming inconceivable.
Since looking at this case I have become friends with Tim McKinnell, the private investigator and former police detective, who has been the driving force behind Pora’s appeal to the Privy Council. While I find the gang element of this quite compelling, it has nothing on other elements of the evidence.
I am utterly convinced that Teina Pora is an innocent man.
*Incidentally, Highway 61 kicked Rewa out for his attitude toward women – before he was found to be a rapist.
Thanks to my colleague Ben Elley for help with this post.