Home' Greymouth Star : August 4th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, August 4, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1875 - Death of Hans Christian Andersen,
Danish writer of fairy tales.
1914 - Germany invades Belgium and when
London’s ultimatum to Berlin to withdraw
expires at midnight, Britain declares war on
Germany; the US declares its neutrality.
1944 - Nazi police capture 14-year-old Anne
Frank and seven other Jews in hiding places in
1961 - Death of Sir Sidney
Holland, New Zealand statesman
and prime minister from 1949-57.
1964 - Bodies of missing
civil rights workers Michael H
Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and
James E Chaney are found buried in
an earthen dam in Mississippi.
1997 - The world’s oldest person, Jeanne
Calment, dies aged 122 years and 164 days in
1999 - Contents of letters that Russian
President Boris Yeltsin provided to President
Clinton are made public, including one written
by Jacqueline Kennedy days after her husband
John F Kennedy’s assassination asking Soviet
leaders to maintain peaceful US relations.
2000 - Q ueen Mother Elizabeth celebrates
her 100th birthday as thousands line the roads
of London to cheer her.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet (1792-
1822); Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
(1900-2002); Louis Armstrong,
US jazz musician (1901-1971);
Frankie Ford, US singer (1939-);
Richard Belzer, US actor-comedian
(1944-); Billy Bob Thornton, US
actor-director (1955-); Barack
Obama, American president
(1961-); Jessica Mauboy, Australian
singer-songwriter and actress (1989-).
“ Every man is dangerous who only cares for
one thing. ” — G K Chesterton, English poet-
“The Lord does not look at the things man
looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.”
— 1 Samuel 16:7
West Coast rugby
league patrons enjoyed
the only international
match here yesterday,
when France took its fourth victory over West
Coast by a close 9-6 margin at Wingham Park.
Two penalty goals in the closing stages of
the game provided the French win and it was
only the reliable boot of scrum-half Georges
Bertrand that prevented the local province
from setting rugby league history here.
But France was the better side and won its
second match in New Zealand on this tour.
For Coast, fullback Cliff Hibbs was the hero
of the game being responsible for all six points
from penalty goals. Pick of the West Coast
for wards was without a doubt second-row man
Kevin Dixon. He had luck in finding gaps but
when they were not there he made them, and
before he was brought down he always made
Injured near Bullock Creek, Punakaiki on
Thursday in a mishap with a mechanical loader,
a 50-year-old man died in the Buller Hospital
late on Saturday night. He was Mr Edward
Schwass, a single man from 21 Mill Street,
Mr Schwass had been engaged as a labourer
on a bush road formation job at the time.
He was assisting Mr W Hampton with a
mechanical loader when the overhead arm
of the machine collapsed, causing him severe
injuries to the pelvis. Mr Hampton received
bad hand injuries.
Earlier in the day a 32-year-old Paringa man,
Ronald Scott, married with three children, was
found dead, pinned to the ground by his wrist
by a tree. He had received fatal head injuries
while felling a tree for firewood.
uFood for thought
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vidence that led to Bronson
Kelekolio being identified as
the killer of Sina Solomona
— a crime for which he
was this week sentenced
to life in prison — was
overwhelming, the police detective who
headed the case says. Before his sentencing
in the High Court in Christchurch,
reporter Myles Hume sat down with John
Rae to talk in-depth about the murder, how
it unfolded and how it was solved.
A knock on the door scares Malia
Kelekolio and her aunty in their 43 Aitken
Who could possibly need them at almost
3am on a Saturday?
At first they refuse to open it, then they
recognise the voice.
Malia opens the door for her teenage
brother, 15-year-old Bronson Kelekolio.
He stands on the doorstep, covered in
blood, short of breath.
Come quick, she is told, someone has hurt
The uncharacteristic panic of the
Ashburton teenager strikes a nerve with
Maria and her aunty.
Fearful as to what has happened to the
22-year-old woman who she has grown to
know as her stepsister, they hurry to Sina
Nerisa Solomona’s Cass Street address, less
than 300m away.
They pass Tommy Kelekolio’s black
Honda that has been parked on the lawn
for weeks. Stuffed underneath Kelekolio
and Malia’s father’s car in overgrown grass
lies a knife handle and a serrated knife,
wrapped in a bloodied checked bush shirt.
A sealed path runs along the side of the
house, leading to the back door that has
been left ajar.
Inside the back door corridor of the
rented home they find Sina in a pool of
blood with her pants around her knees.
Sina is barely recognisable. Her head and
face had been stabbed multiple times and
her throat slashed.
Amid the chaos, a distressed Kelekolio
rushes to Sina, drops to his knees and holds
her head. He speaks to her, seemingly
hoping for a sign of life.
Meanwhile, Malia finds the nearest power
point and plugs in her phone charger.
She dials 111 and rings for an ambulance,
which is dispatched in minutes followed by
Ashburton police; the station situated just
Following a description of the horrifying
scene to the operator, Malia is given
advice on CPR , an act she continues on an
unresponsive Sina out of sheer desperation
During those frantic moments, Malia
uses a towel to cover her stepsister’s pubic
region, attempting to conser ve her dignity.
Ashburton police arrive at the scene,
closely followed by the paramedics.
They enter to find Malia still trying to
revive her stepsister. After a quick check
for danger, police take over CPR until the
paramedics arrive and check for signs of
Sina is pronounced dead at 3.05am
December 15, 2012.
The family home became a homicide
scene in the hours following the death.
Detective senior sergeant John Rae,
of Papanui, took charge, assisted by
Ashburton’s detective sergeant Jennifer
Hooke as the second in command and file
manager detective Sean Millington.
The street was cordoned off and
neighbours were caught in the middle of an
Their homes became exhibits for
rubberneckers as they were thrust under the
To the naked eye murder was the obvious
cause of death for the detectives. The blows
to Sina’s head and the blood splatter on
the walls indicated this was a direct and
Kelekolio, who raised the alarm, is in
shock in the hours following Sina’s death.
A key suspect from the outset, he is taken
to the Ashburton Police Station, but he
appears over whelmed by the horror.
He is in no fit state to speak and the
officer dealing with him calls for an
ambulance to transport him to Ashburton
Rewind a few hours and Friday night,
December 14, 2012, is shaping to be
no different to any other for Bronson
He is free to roam, he has little
responsibility and there seems to be little
parental concern about where he goes
or who he is with. He only really has to
answer to someone when things go wrong.
In the early hours of Saturday morning,
Kelekolio leaves his Aitken Street home
heading to 111 Cass Street where his father
Tommy lives with his partner Anuella
Solomona and her four adult children
George and Richard Ioapo and L oretta
and Sina Solomona. L oretta’s partner Tara
and Sina’s daughter Kaira also live at the
Sina, who has lived in Ashburton since
2002, is a hard-working bubbly young
woman who enjoys a busy life with friends,
family and her young daughter.
Kelekolio meets Tara, who is there
to collect some equipment for a family
birthday party. It is almost 2am.
Elsewhere, Sina, her CMP Canterbury
workmate Penrose Poriomaka and another
colleague are on their way home from a
night shift when they are stopped by police
on Walnut Avenue.
A drivers’ licence complication means they
are ordered to drive directly to Penrose’s
place, where Sina texts Tara, asking him to
pick up her and her workmate.
With Kelekolio tagging along, Tara heads
to Penrose’s house and drops Sina’s friend
off at Willow Street.
Tara and Kelekolio then drop Sina off at
Cass Street. Realising she would be alone,
Tara asks if she wants him to come in, but
she does not mind. He drops Kelekolio at
his Aitken Street home, which he shares
with his sister Malia and his aunt, before
continuing on to join other family members
at a house in Allenton.
Kelekolio opens a bourbon and cola, and
leaves again a few minutes later, wearing his
checked brown and white bush shirt with
a Moshi portable speaker tucked in the top
pocket and blue jeans.
He makes the three-minute walk back to
the Cass Street home where he knows Sina
is alone, enters through the unlocked back
door and launches his attack.
He reaches for the utensil drawer and
pulls out a butcher’s knife and thrusts it
into the back of her neck. He then stabs her
in the head, where the force snaps the tip
off the blade, but he continues to repeatedly
stab her as she falls to the ground. Several
blows are inflicted on the left side of her
Kelekolio does not let up, he proceeds as
the knife snaps again.
The knife breaks until he is left with only
the handle in his grasp.
During the violent attack, while Sina is
still alive, Kelekolio carries out a sexual
He then goes back to the drawer, pulls
out a serrated knife and slashes her throat,
likely the final blow, before returning to his
He wraps both knives in his bush shirt
and stashes them under his father’s car.
He is wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans
when he tells his sister and aunty what he
has stumbled upon.
Detective senior sergeant John Rae
says the evidence that led to identifying
Kelekolio as the sole killer was in the end
Mr Rae arrived later that Saturday
morning, with officers from Christchurch,
Timaru and Ashburton also descending on
the Cass Street homicide scene.
A caravan was set up outside the Cass
Street home, with police cordoning off the
property and a section of Cass Street.
Due to the number of people who were
with Sina close to the time of the killing,
many interviews were narrowed down to a
handful of key suspects.
In the meantime, investigating officers
called in environmental scientists to
conduct a scene examination, while police
carried out numerous search warrants
at relevant addresses about Ashburton,
including the Aitken Street house where
Kelekolio was interviewed the day after
the incident. “He couldn’t be excluded from
day one because he was at the scene,” Mr
Rae said. “His story was tenuous at best
and we were really trying to establish in far
more concrete terms what he was doing
and where he was, where he had been and
what he had been up to.”
On the day Sina died, Kelekolio posted
condolences on his Facebook: “RIP ”,
he wrote, followed immediately by the
comment “to ma sis”.
It seemed a cunning cover-up; a mindset
he did not let up on.
Meanwhile, a bloodied hand print is
found on a nearby used clothing bin, which
is later found to have no relevance to the
case. But a Moshi speaker found under
Sina’s body was highly likely to have been
in Kelekolio’s possession.
Five days after the murder on December
19, police found the serrated knife and
knife handle wrapped in a shirt under
Tommy ’s car at Aitken Street.
Police kept an open mind, but all the
signs pointed to Kelekolio, even though
results from the bloodied finger prints on
Sina’s body and DNA evidence were yet to
be processed and reinforce Kelekolio’s link
to the crime.
Even when photographs of the knives and
the shirt were shown to Kelekolio he did
“He came up with a story about someone
else being involved and him being
threatened and having to dispose of them at
the other guy ’s instigation. It didn’t have the
solid ring of truth about it,” Mr Rae said.
“His tactics weren’t sophisticated. As far
as the investigation was concerned it was a
good solid piece of work, taking our time
and working through it.”
Kelekolio was arrested that Wednesday
night. He was remanded in custody after
an appearance in the Christchurch Youth
Court the following day on Thursday,
Two days later more than 400 people
gather in the Baring Square Methodist
Church for Sina’s funeral.
He was then denied bail in Ashburton
District Court to court on January 14,
But the questions still remained, why
would a 15-year-old boy do this to a
woman he knew as a stepsister?
Besides a potential sexual motive
suggested during the investigation, Mr
Rae said it was hard to establish the teen’s
motive for the malicious crime.
Friends close to Kelekolio said he
appeared to have a good relationship with
Sina, but others spoke of conflict within the
Mr Rae said there were hints of an
argument between Kelekolio and Sina in
the week prior to the murder, when she
called him out on the way he spoke to a
He says that could be to do with
Kelekolio being brought up with strong
Pacific Island values; that he may have
taken umbrage at being censured by his
stepsister. But at the end of the day the
motive remains a mystery.
“I mean this has come out of the blue,
there’s no history to my knowledge of
Bronson being violent like he was here.”
On March 18, Kelekolio was committed
to trial and a freshly laid charge of sexual
violation by unlawful sexual connection was
put before him — he denied that too.
A pre-trial conference at the High
Court in Christchurch heard he would
stand trial for two weeks starting
November 4, 2013, and despite what
Mr Rae labelled “an over whelming” case
against him, Kelekolio maintained his not-
It is understood that was largely down
to conflict within the family as to what
was his best move. But at an arraignment
hearing at the Timaru High Court sitting
in Christchurch, Kelekolio made a shock
guilty plea to both charges, with his father
and the Solomona family sitting in the
On Thursday his name suppression was
lifted and he was sentenced to life in prison
with a minimum non-parole period of
14 years and six months — more than 18
months since he committed the crime.
Loyal friends of Kelekolio Kelekolio, also
known as Ale, have defended him through
the ordeal, but it was with those friends
that drugs, alcohol and cunning antics
never seemed too far away.
Mr Rae said Kelekolio, the youngest in
the immediate Kelekolio family, lived a life
with loose boundaries.
Friends say school was never really a
priority for him in recent years and his
behaviour reflected that.
He attended Ashburton Borough before
heading to Ashburton College.
A schoolmate and childhood friend said
he was often truant with friends.
She said he was asked to leave the college
and join its community entry programme
for pupils with behavioural difficulties who
are at risk of being suspended or excluded.
Kelekolio is of Tokelauan descent, and
the two families were brought together by
Sina’s mother and Kelekolio’s father.
They united after Anuella’s husband and
father of her children Inu Ioapo, 40, was
killed after his car collided with a stock
truck 3km south of Rakaia on March 1,
Sources say Tommy was originally a
family friend, who forged a relationship
Kelekolio’s mother lived in Christchurch
for several years, but according to her
Facebook page, she now lives in Porirua.
Both families have lived in Mid
Canterbury for several years after moving
from Porirua. Kelekolio’s father Tommy
held down two jobs — one at ACL and
another as part-time glass cleaner at The
Anuella worked at CMP in the lamb
processing plant, not far from the bench her
daughter Sina also used to work the night
The blended family spread across two
houses, Kelekolio living with his aunty,
his father’s sister, and his own sister Malia
on Aitken Street, while Tommy lived just
around the corner at 111 Cass Street with
the Solomona family.
Another one of Kelekolio’s sisters, Imeleta
Ulupalo, lived elsewhere in Ashburton with
her husband and family.
One associate said: “Bronson had a lot of
issues at home” and appeared to have little
structure in his life.
Anuella’s friend Elenoa Needham said
there was conflict within the family.
Kelekolio was not always welcomed by the
“It was because of his mouth, and Sina
always used to call him a little shit because
Tommy believed whatever he said.
“ Tommy wasn’t always around when they
Friends say Kelekolio often appeared at
ease on the outside with a cheeky sense of
However, comments on his Facebook
page offered an insight into the life the
“I miss getting drunk with you, all the
mad smoke up’s and all the timed I’ve
saved your ass (sic),” one person wrote,
reminiscing after his friend was arrested for
But he was also a keen sportsman, being
selected in the Mid Canterbury Country
under 14Â1⁄2 squad in June 2010 after
performing well for his Tinwald club.
An associate, who did not want to be
named, said they remembered Kelekolio
moving in with a family friend when things
got tough at home, where he was “really
He went to church with them and helped
out with household chores. But when he
went back to his family, things began to
Mr Rae said Kelekolio’s home life would
have been a contributing factor in his
“I don’t think he fitted with the ideals of
the family at Cass Street; he behaved in
ways that weren’t acceptable to them and
they pushed him away,” he said.
“He’s living with an elderly aunty, he’s
living with an older sister, both who have
their own lives that they go about. He’s not
in school, he’s in the education programme.
He hasn’t got a parent living with him, no
one is exercising control or direction over
him apart from the odd time when he gets
a cuff over the ear for when he’s not doing
“He had access to alcohol, he was
accessing drugs ... but what it means is you
lose your inhibitions to improve, it takes
away your drive and so he was falling by the
“It was a definite contributing factor.”
Meanwhile, the blended family he was
once part of has been destroyed.
Anuella and Tommy split after Sina’s
funeral and any slight relationship that
remained was in tatters after Kelekolio
Sina’s daughter Kaira is being raised by
Anuella and Sina’s twin sister Loretta.
Tommy is still living in Ashburton and is
said to remain one of Kelekolio’s strongest
Kelekolio, now 17, has at least 14 years
before him in prison, along with the life-
long reputation he gets with it.
He will have to accept the destruction of
a life he caused, and, along with that, the
family he was once part of.
Two years ago a teenager slashed the throat of his step-sister. Last week he started a long
prison sentence for her murder. MYLES HUME of the Ashburton Guardian reports.
Timeline of a murder
Bronson Kelekolio and his victim, Sina Solomona.
“It was not worth even one
life,” said Harry Patch shortly
before he died in 2009 at the age
of 111. He was the last sur vivor
of the 65 million soldiers who
fought in the First World War,
and by the time he died it was
a normal, quite unremarkable
thing to say. But he would never
have said it in 1914.
World War One was a human tragedy, of
course, but this was when the human race
began to question the whole institution
of war: how useful it is, but also how
inevitable it really is. And the answer to
both questions is: not very.
The thing most people miss about World
War One is that it was a perfectly normal
political event. Ever since the rise of
modern centralised states in 16th-century
Europe, they had all gone to war with each
other in two big alliances at around half-
century inter vals. The wars were effectively
about everything: borders in Europe, trade
routes, colonies in Asia, Africa and the
The great powers fought other, littler
wars as well, but these big events — the
30 Years’ War, the War of the Spanish
Succession, the Seven Years’ War and so
on — were like a general audit of their
status. Who is up, and who is down? Who
can expand, and who must yield?
It was a perfectly viable system,
because the wars mostly involved small
professional armies and did not disturb
civilian populations much. The casualties
were low, and hardly any major player
ever crashed out of the system entirely.
Naturally enough, most people did not see
this system as a problem that had to be
solved. It was just another fact of life.
The only diplomatic difference in 1914
was that the great powers co-ordinated
their moves better than before. Almost all
of them were at war in a few days, where
it would have taken months or even a few
years in the old days. The armies could
move quickly to the frontiers by rail, so
now you created your alliances before the
war — and everybody had the telegraph ,
so the final decisions were made fast.
But once the war started, everything
was different. The armies were 10 times
as big as they used to be, because these
were now rich industrialised countries that
could afford to put most of the adult male
population into uniform. That meant that
the soldiers getting killed were fathers,
brothers, husbands and sons: part of the
community, not the wastrels, drunks and
men on the run who made up such a large
part of the old professional armies.
And they were getting killed in
unprecedented numbers. The new weapons
— m a chine guns, modern artillery and so
on — were very efficient killing machines,
and within a month the soldiers had to
take shelter in trenches from the “storm of
steel”. They spent the rest of the war trying
to break through the trenches, and by
the end of it 9 million of them had been
killed. That is what changed everything.
The senior politicians and diplomats of
1918, living amid the wreckage of the old
world, could see that the old international
system was now delivering catastrophe,
and had to be changed. So they set out
to change it, by creating the League of
Nations. They outlawed aggressive war,
and invented the concept of “collective
security” to enforce the new international
They failed, at first, because the legacy of
bitterness among the losers in World War
One was so great that a second one came
only 20 years later. That one was bigger
and worse — but at the end, everybody
tried again. They had to.
The United Nations was founded in
1945, with slightly more realistic rules
than the League of Nations but the
same basic goal: to stop wars among the
great powers, for those are the wars that
kill in the millions. Stopping other wars
too would be nice, but first things first
— e specially now that there are nuclear
All you can say is that it has not failed
yet in its main task: no great power has
fought any other one directly for the
past 69 years. Ignore the headlines that
constantly tell you the world is falling
apart. The glass is more than half-full.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles on world affairs
are published in 45 countries.
The legacy of World War One
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
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