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'We did not see it coming': Daughter's death sparks mission

David White

A decade after his daughter's murder, David White still agonises over not doing more to help prevent the tragic circumstances surrounding her violent death.

A decade after his daughter's murder, David White still agonises over not doing more to help prevent the tragic circumstances surrounding her violent death.

Mr White visited Oamaru yesterday as part of a nationwide speaking tour on family violence prevention and awareness titled Harm Ends - Futures Begin, that will take in all 71 electorates in 71 days across 120 sessions.

His daughter, Helen Meads, was shot and killed by her husband Gregory Meads at their Matamata property on September 23, 2009, four days after she announced plans to end their 12-year marriage after suffering years of physical abuse.

He was sentenced to a non-parole period of 11 years for her murder.

At the Oamaru Opera House yesterday, Mr White spoke in front of about 30 people about his daughter's death, its impact on him and his family and what he believed he and Helen could have done to potentially prevent the tragedy.

"We did absolutely not see it coming. We handled everything about it wrong and we paid the ultimate price.

"Had we just asked for some advice, Helen could be alive today. Both Helen and I thought we had it under control.

"The biggest mistake we made was we handled each episode as it happened and solved it. We never once stood back and looked at the whole pattern that was emerging.

"Had we done that, we would have seen something that was completely different.''

His goal now was to work with police, MPs and community representatives around the country to stamp out family violence and encourage people on both sides, victims and perpetrators, to report it.

"What I want to do is get the conversation going. In this country our biggest killer is our own silence and I am trying to break that silence.

"We've got lots of schemes about helping victims, but let's not have the victims in the first place.''

He said the Ruapehu Transformation programme, launched in 2013, was an example of proactive prevention in action.

The community was asked what could be done to improve housing, education, employment issues, health and social issues.

Twenty-three solutions were identified and confirmed as opportunities to positively transform the everyday lives of families.

"While they were attacking all these things and not directly family violence, family violence dropped because all the stress factors were taken away and the community would step in and have a quiet word over the garden fence,'' Mr White said.

"To me, it's such an easy thing to achieve in New Zealand. That's the answer to me.''

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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