Gun spree killer Anderson's first interview

Stephen Anderson: Killed six people in a cannabis-fuelled shooting rampage at his family's lodge at Raurimu in 1997.
Stephen Anderson: Killed six people in a cannabis-fuelled shooting rampage at his family's lodge at Raurimu in 1997.

Stephen Anderson gunned down 10 people, including his father, in the Raurimu massacre. Today he gives his first interview to Neil Reid.

Raurima massacre shooter Stephen Lawrence Anderson has given his first interview, 14 years after gunning down 10 people including his father.

Anderson, found not guilty by reason of insanity on six murders and four attempted murders, has revealed how he:

Mother Helen Anderson
Mother Helen Anderson

Values his freedom after being freed to live in the community

Finds inner peace through meditation and Buddhism

Compiled a collection of poems for his newly published book, including conflicting verses on the death penalty

Father and victim Neville Anderson
Father and victim Neville Anderson

Questions people's reaction to the killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Anderson, who had been diagnosed two years earlier as a paranoid schizophrenic, was 24 when he ran amok with a shotgun at his family's central North Island ski lodge, on February 8, 1997. He killed six people including his 60-year-old father, Neville.

He spent about a decade in secure psychiatric care.

The Raurimu lodge where the killings took place.
The Raurimu lodge where the killings took place.

Now living in a Wellington suburb, Anderson said he was working hard to rebuild his shattered life.

A trained dental technician, he does not currently have a full-time job.

"We are just trying to put what happened behind us and get on with what is left of the pieces... put them back together," Anderson told Sunday News. "Man, I value my freedom."

Police lead a naked Stephen Anderson from the crime scene.
Police lead a naked Stephen Anderson from the crime scene.

He was finding inner peace through daily meditation and studying Buddhist teachings.

"It is about really disciplining your mind... it is realising that you have a choice how you feel," Anderson said.

"Some people say life is 10% what happens to you, 90% how you deal with it. And I reckon that is a good assessment of the situation.

"There are not too many people, I don't think, who really understand the nature of their mind."

Anderson was under the care of Capital Coast Health's community mental health team when he went on his shooting rampage. He had been resisting taking his medication, was obsessed with firearms and used cannabis heavily in the lead-up to the massacre, which began at his parents' lodge at Raurimu, in the central North Island.

He fatally shot his father; Anthony McCarty, 63; Stephen Hanson, 38; John Matthews, 28; Andrea Brander, 52; and Henk Van de Wetering, 51.

"I was found not guilty in the end... found insane," Anderson said. "I spent a long time in hospital. Over that time I managed to get the help I needed.

"I recovered quite quickly and then had to find some way of dealing with what had happened... that has been the go."

His book, Toys in the Attic, is a collection of 36 of his poems.

A blurb on the back of the book states: "This is working to change how he manages his mental health and goes about his daily life and interaction with others."

The book, published by First Edition, includes verses on such topics as marijuana use, the right of a parent to smack a child, the work of the police and conflicting poems on the virtues of the death penalty.

Anderson said Toys in the Attic, being sold online, should be viewed as a body of work rather than individual poems read in isolation.

"To get the feel of the book, you really have to read the poems around the poems. Often I take... the voice of someone else and tell their story.

"The more you read it, the more you find in different things. I have tried to use just simple text but try and say big things... it is highly political.

"It is not intended and shouldn't be taken as any serious literary thing. It is something to contemplate, there is something in there for everybody."

One of the poems is entitled Where in the World is Osama.

Talking to Sunday News two days after American president Barack Obama confirmed the terrorist's death following a military operation in Pakistan, Anderson said: "How is rejoicing in the killing of someone else make the world a better place? I don't know."

Since finishing Toys in the Attic, Anderson has completed "another 100 poems at least".

The release of his volume of poetry hasn't impressed massacre victim Anthony McCarty's widow, Isabel. She suffered life-threatening injuries after also being shot by Anderson.

"I didn't know he had done any poetry. It is very unusual," Isabel said. She didn't want to see them.

Told of Anderson's use of meditation to find inner peace, she said: "Everything is just unreal as far as he is concerned."

Sunday News