It's early morning down Aorangi Rd, the dew turning its nose up at the winter sun and clinging stubbornly to the grass.
On a morning similar to this, two years ago now, the lives of two families were ripped apart. A community was shocked. Who would kill someone like Scott Guy, a regular sort of bloke, a family man?
He was the boy you went to school with, the father whose kids went to playcentre with yours, whose dad stood next to you at the stockyards and was mates with your next-door neighbour.
This morning, Aorangi Rd is quiet. Cows chew their cuds in the paddocks. A farmer drives past and gives the "Colyton wave" – two fingers lifted off the steering wheel in a friendly salute.
There is no sign of the dramatic scene that occurred here in the early hours of July 8, 2010. The crime scene tape might be gone, but the ripples from the killing will be felt in Feilding for a long time.
Helen Worboys, Feilding promotion manager, went to Feilding High School with Bryan Guy, Scott's father. Her sons went to school with the Guy and Macdonald children. She knows Scott's grandparents, founding members of the town's Coach House Museum.
"From the community's point of view, our thoughts are for the family, having to go through all this detail by detail, it must bring all the horror up again. Because the family are so well known, everyone has a connection with them somehow.
"At all these generational levels there is all this feeling, and we just want things to be over for them so there's some closure for them to move on. Time allows things to heal, that's human nature. But it doesn't mean we will forget. We will not forget."
Asked if there will ever be a place for Ewen Macdonald in the Feilding community, her diplomacy almost falters.
She hesitates. "Yes," she says, the word drawn out longer than it should. Really? "Yes. My answer is yes, because he has his family and his children and all that.
"It is going to be hard, and it will be interesting to see ... but we have to trust the legal system that has gone through due process, and he's gone through that ... we have to deal with that and move on.
"It will be hard for him, it will be hard for his family, it will be hard for his community, but we'll manage."
OTHERS disagree – like Craig Hocken, the Colyton farmer who is $17,000 out of pocket after Macdonald shot and buried two of his trophy stags. Macdonald was convicted of poaching the two deer after his much younger accomplice, Callum Boe, admitted poaching, criminal damage and arson when questioned by police in April 2011. Macdonald was arrested four days later.
Finding out that the criminal was his neighbour was gutting, Mr Hocken said. "To be fair, I wasn't very happy. I mean, when his kids go to the same school your kids go to ...
"Being done by a neighbour – you don't expect these things in a reasonably tight-knit community in this kind of area."
Macdonald's arrest for the poaching brought closure to a lot of incidents around the district, he said. People were starting to suspect one another.
"He had been known to do a bit of poaching over the years, so when it happened I just thought, `Why didn't someone tell me that a few years ago so we could have gone and knocked on his door?'
"I mean, you don't know what else he's done as well – we had a few burglaries and bits and pieces. It opens up a big can of worms around the district too."
Despite his acquittal for murder, Macdonald will not be able to slot back into life in his home town, Mr Hocken says.
"It's pretty much ruined his kids' lives and his life whether he's found guilty or innocent.
"There's always going to be doubt, isn't there, there's always going to be enough doubt there for the local people ... There's a lot of crimes that people get acquitted for and it comes back later."
Given the circumstances, will he be eyeing up passers-by with suspicion from now on? "I don't think so, it's not as dire as that. You can still trust your neighbours."
Callum Boe's grandparents, his guardians since his parents were killed in a car accident when he was young, also live in Colyton. They declined to comment, saying the past couple of years had been difficult and Boe was trying to put it behind him.
Manawatu District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said the community supported the families, providing a normal environment. Anna could walk into a local pub without a head being turned.
"The way we do it here is by understanding, and I guess not getting drawn into the sensationalising of it in any way. When you're close to something you know the best way you can support people is by actually not saying anything."
On the last week of the biggest murder trial in the town's history, the lead story in the twice-weekly local newspaper is about a funding cut to a local art gallery.
Feilding Herald editor Sandra Crosbie said the decision was partly to do with deadlines, but also because locals didn't want the story splashed across the cover.
"All anyone feels here is for the families, and what they are going through. It's a bit voyeuristic when it's this close, it's like looking through your neighbour's windows."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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